When you despair, you proclaim that God is dead.
The last time I posted about depression on our blog, you responded with sixty-nine comments. I take that as a sign that it’s is an issue worth discussing.
Really, I didn’t need to read sixty-nine comments to know that. All I have to do is look at my own story to know that depression is real. It hurts. It’s confusing.
You and I aren’t the only ones who’ve experienced it. Throughout history, true believers in Christ have experienced waves of despair:
Take, for instance, Jonathan Edwards, the young preacher who God used to stir revival in New England, who was well known to fight with depression for long periods of time. Or Martin Luther, the monk whose courage kicked off the start of the Reformation in Europe, but was sometimes so depressed he couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
Or, maybe you’ve heard of Charles Spurgeon, who started preaching to packed houses at the age of thirteen. In his biography, John Piper wrote about Spurgeon’s “dark nights of the soul.” Yes, you got it. Even Spurgeon was a sufferer:
“It is not easy to imagine the… brilliant, full-of-energy Spurgeon weeping like a baby for no reason that he could think of. In 1858, at age 24 it happened for the first time. He said, ‘My spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for.'
He saw his depression as his ‘worst feature.’ ‘Despondency,’ he said, ‘is not a virtue; I believe it is a vice. I am heartily ashamed of myself for falling into it, but I am sure there is no remedy for it like a holy faith in God.’”
Looking at the examples of these men, we can see different methods of responding to depression. Spurgeon and Edwards both saw hopelessness as sin and tried to fight back. However, I think Martin Luther’s wife set the best example of all:
“On one particular occasion when he was greatly discouraged—which was not unusual for Luther—he was forcefully reminded of this by his wife, Katharine. Seeing him unresponsive to any word of encouragement, one morning she appeared dressed in black mourning clothes. No word of explanation was forthcoming, and so Luther, who had heard nothing of a bereavement, asked her, ‘Katharine, why are you dressed in mourning black?’
‘Someone has died,’ she replied.
‘Died?’ said Luther. ‘I have not heard of anyone dying. Whoever can have died?’
‘It seems,’ his wife replied, ‘that God must have died.’”
When we allow ourselves to feel utterly hopeless, what we’re saying to the world is that we believe God has died; we’re saying that God is incapable of saving us and that He isn’t great enough to be our joy.
So tell me, how are you living? Even if mood swings do have a hold on you—are you choosing to live like God is alive?