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 →
Yesterday I preached on the issue of Shame. I used three particular passages. In Genesis 3 we see where Shame entered the world and how humans were cast out of the Garden to live a life of shame and disgrace. In Leviticus 16 we see where Shame is dealt with in regard to the Scapegoat, who is cast out into the wilderness, just like Adam and Eve. Yet, this scapegoat is not enough for us. In Isaiah 53 we see Jesus who became the Divine Scapegoat. He was cast out that we may be brought in. The Only Legitimate ShameGiver became the Only legitimate ShameBearer.
During the sermon, my daughter, Callie, drew the picture to the left that emphasizes in big letters “SHAME.” Then above the word SHAME is the phrase “He Will Give…” and underneath is the phrase “He Will Bear…” I thought it was pretty cool.
In this sermon I talk about the incredible power of Shame. I talk at length about the story of Bill Buckner, former first baseman for the Boston Red Sox. At the greatest moment of his career, when everything was on the line, Bill Buckner failed to do what he had done a million times before – field a slow roller to first base. We are all Bill Buckners. Not only do we fail in our obvious weaknesses, but we also are headed for failure, even in our greatest areas of strength. This is why people need the saving power of Jesus Christ. Not only does He save us from our sins and our obvious weaknesses, but He also rescues us from our supposed strengths. Not only does the cross cover our guilt, but it also dramatically and powerfully covers our shame. Glory to Christ!
In continuing my meditations on Shame, I drew this picture after reading I Kings 19:9. Shame drives us into a cave of darkness. Our vision is distorted. Our wounds are open. We withdraw from community. Like Adam and Eve, we hide ourselves from the Lord. In this verse, we find the prophet Elijah, full of shame and fear, running from God, hiding in a cave. All his confidence has evaporated. His faith has dried up. Someone must draw him out. He is paralyzed. He cannot save himself. In the darkness, Christ kneels beside him and quietly and whispers, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
“There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” – 1 Kings 19:9