I love this poem about depression. Even though it does not seem to be written from a Christian perspective, it is starkly honest and boldly courageous. So many pastors that I know, like me, struggle with depression. It is a killer that steals life, hides hope, and defames Christ. So thankful that the gospel is the lifter of my head, that the love of Christ gives me power over the darkness, and that the hope of heaven tomorrow gives me confidence to embrace today.
“Jesus, lift the heads of those you love. Lift the chin of those who suffer with depression. Lift them out of the miry pit of self loathing, out of the miry clay of despair. Put a new song on their lips. May your presence be like honey on a bitter tongue and like a fount of water in a dry land.”
My daughter Callie is a student at Covenant College. Last week she wrote a paper on a person in ministry who deals with a disability. Callie chose me. My disability is depression and anxiety. She sent me three questions to answer.
1) How does your faith change the way you interact with your depression?
I believe that dependency on Christ is the essence of Christian faith. In other words, Christians are in a trusting union with Christ and, apart from this union, they can’t do anything to help themselves or anyone else. But, just because I believe this intellectually does not mean that I yield to it easily. I suffer with depression and anxiety. Depression is a weird sort of disability. It’s the kind of thing that has crippled me in an invisible way. Others aren’t able to see it. For years I wanted to believe that I was OK. That I could build enough emotional ‘muscle’ to overcome depression. I tried to use Christ improperly to build this muscle. Maybe if I prayed enough or read the Bible enough or worked enough or toughened myself enough or performed enough – the depression would go away. It didn’t. It has taken me a long time to understand that Christ planned to ‘cripple me’ with depression in order to humble me and love me. And like a Christian man with two paralyzed legs has to grow accustomed to loving Christ from a wheel chair, I am having to grow accustomed to loving Christ from the constrictions of medication and an adjusted lifestyle. I used to feel that Christ would help me conquer depression once and for all. This would work for a little while. But when depression would cripple me I would feel abandoned by Christ. Now I am learning that Christ is using depression to conquer my self-sufficiency, my pride, and my shame. Continue reading