“Turn to me and have pity on me, for I am left alone and in misery” — Psalm 25:15.
Johnny Cash once sang, “Get rhythm, when you get the blues.” If it were only that easy. In contrast, Psalm 25 and other psalms teach us to cling fast to God through bleak times.
Faith isn’t about wishing away the blues. Mere happiness is no cure for depression. A cheery outlook may simply be a mask when life hands you a serious blow — unemployment, illness, death.
Faith, on the other hand, says that there’s more to the world than just me in this bleak moment. I was created by God in God’s image, so I am important to God. I am connected to the world as part of the Body of Christ, so I am important to others in ways I cannot even understand. When I am hungry, when I am abused, when I am homeless, I am not alone. When I suffer, Christ suffers with me. The one who was abused himself, who suffered and was killed on a cross, is with me.
Sometimes I know I am not alone because others, acting in the spirit of Matthew 25, come to my aid. Other times, I know that Christ suffers with me in my loneliness. “My eyes are ever looking to the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.”
Michael Rich, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville
Even Jesus took time for rest, prayer
Many have undertaken the task of writing on depression. It is the one state of being that personally touches everyone. The variables are what seem to make the difference. The cause, depth, circumstance and recovery are different for all, which makes it impossible for there to be only one solution. Having said this, there are a few action steps that seem to have benefits for every person.
In his book “Christians Get Depressed Too,” David P. Murray quotes John Lockley, writing: “Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.” How desperately do we need more full-service family ministries!
In Mark 6:30-32, Jesus seems to suggest that life’s struggles are not the only thing that will deplete your strength and make you susceptible to depression — exhaustion will also. Jesus’ advice is to step away from the situation. Even Jesus can be found pulling away for rest and prayer in a couple of passages.
Proper rest, a healthy diet, exercise and a decrease in alcoholic beverages may not only aid in good physical being, but as Jesus demonstrates, it can also replenish one’s spirit … helping one to maintain faith.
E. Steven Richardson, 17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Anniston