Life has its ups and its downs. Some people experience the fluctuation therein more, others experience it less. Whether it be just a shade of melancholy, or full-blown, paralyzing depression, I suppose all people have experienced it somewhat. Growing up, I heard a lot about depression, etc. and always had a difficult time understanding such a concept. I’ll be honest, in my high school years I cynically scoffed at the idea of depression. My thoughts were that people ought to “buck up” and get over their problems. Then, a few years later, I experienced my first real bout of depression.
It was unreal. Not only was it unreal, it was so unexpected. Not only was it unexpected, it was unfamiliar. I mean, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this happy guy named Josh was floored by….well, something he didn’t know. To this day, I can’t really put a finger on it. I wasn’t revelling in sin. I wasn’t in unrepentant rebellion toward God. No family members or close friends were dying or dead. Nonetheless, I was brought low. I got to the point where everything was done out of obligation. I wasn’t happy about anything. I remember many of my prayers, crying out to God to bring me through. I remember eating a few bites and being able to stomach no more.
Even now, I still don’t know what the cause of that time was. All I know is that I didn’t want to get out of bed, shower, socialize, __________ (fill in the blank with all the normal things I routinely did and even liked doing). Despite not understanding, I now know this: my lack of sympathy for those going through a tough time (and being unable to pinpoint its cause) was very presumptious and without knowledge. This bad time wasn’t without purpose. Number one, I knew that even though I didn’t understand what was going on, I had to trust God at all times in all things. I felt like the Psalmist who saw all his enemies closing in around him. He would cry out to God and not see His hand in all of this. Nonetheless, he would end the Psalm with hope, trust, and belief that the Almighty knew what He was doing.
He was very gracious to carry me through that period. God also taught me how to have sympathy and compassion on those who’re going through similar things. You know, even when people are experiencing rough times on earth because of their own sin, we ought to be burdened for them. Thus, when we go to confront them to repent, we may do so with a heart of love and mercy– versus a heart of condemnation and judgment that we’ve no right to have. Even still, there are those who experience these things which are not a cause of unrepentance, sad situations, etc.
It’s in these times that the Christian must especially hold fast to that which they know to be true from Scripture, lest they be fooled by their circumstance. That God is good all the time. That everything which happens in the saint’s life is furthering the purpose of God (which is a good purpose). That God is sanctifying us through even our sorrows. That his purpose is more important than our temporal comfort. You see, though I’ve not experienced again what I did eight years ago (an almost paralyzing depression from an unknown source), I have had my ups and downs. Sometimes I have a melancholy looming over me for a few hours. Sometimes, a few days. Other times there’s a great frowning providence sent via my own circumstances. And yet, because of the faith God has graciously given me, I cling to His promises. You know why? Because His promises are surer and more enduring than my finite experiences, good or bad.
Even today I have doubts and insecurities rearing their ugly heads. Nontheless:
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.