Who am I?
Where am I?
…those are just a couple of the questions that you’d find me asking God in my personal journal, after some circumstances left me dealing with a pile of emotional wreckage that sunk me into the depths of depression.
I know… a Christian with depression? I didn’t understand this either. It’s easy to accept a Christian with cancer, a Christian with diabetes, a Christian with heart disease, but depression?
I hope to strip away the shame and bring understanding to this confusing issue.
One reason we fail to understand is that we don’t consider the brain to be an organ that can be damaged just like the others. There is no lack of evidence that the brain is just as vulnerable as any other organ to all sorts of injury. I suppose we’re only convinced when we can see that evidence — a scan that reveals a blood clot, a tumor or an injury. If a physical accident has occurred, we can see external damage and so, we more readily accept the complaints of the sufferer.
But what if there is no brain imaging? What if the person suffering with clinical depression has no visible damage? Should we deny their wounds because we can’t see them? Or insist that they’ve done something wrong to deserve this spiritual suffering? Maybe they have, but maybe not.
Thankfully, God gives this sufferer special attention in His Word, because He can see what no one else will.
The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? -Proverbs 18:14
Another reason we fail to understand is that we tend to compare the “bad days” we’ve experienced to the term “depression”. I know I did. Unfortunately, this is like comparing the symptoms of a common cold to a drowning man. The most helpful people in the world don’t view others through the filter of only their own experiences. As Christians, we should be the most helpful people in the world, understanding that none of us are immune to any kind of suffering.
I’ve known what it’s like to not only suffer with depression, but worse, the shame. I’ve wrestled with the doubts… how could I even be a Christian with depression? Through my struggle, I’ve learned that Christianity and depression aren’t just compatible – together, they can be beautiful.
I get frustrated with myself because it’s been a year and a half and I still often sink into despair. Yet, in that place, I also find myself thanking God, realizing that suffering draws my soul after Him, and toward other weak members. The end result isn’t depression, but delight.
Remember those confused, despairing questions, who am I? and where am I?
Consider this declaration from the Song of Solomon:
“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” 2:1
The Song of Solomon is a picture of Christ and His bride. There, He tells us who we are. We are our Beloved’s. The two have become one. So, He is who we are.
What about how I feel? Where am I? That would be the valley.
The Hebrew word for valley is:
a vale (i.e. broad depression)
The root word for valley actually means, to be (or make) deep.
We surely don’t ask for suffering, but we can be encouraged remembering that we’ll grow through the suffering. This helps me persevere, even when my feelings scream otherwise and I feel lost. We aren’t lost, we’re in the valley.
The next time I see or hear of a Christian brother or sister suffering with depression, I hope to encourage them by reminding them who & where they are — a lily of the valley.
In His time, He will make us beautiful.
Growing with you, friend,