Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
I don’t know if I have ever expressed what I am about to tell you openly or not. Those of you who know me well enough, already know, or at least suspect, that I am prone to depression. I am even on medication for it. I went off the med “cold turkey” once. It became a really dark time for me, to say the least. Around the same time, I visited a new doctor for the first time. Now, I don’t like to visit doctors, but this guy was a different story. He was around two hours late to see me but when he finally came into the exam room we spent about an hour and a half just talking. He is a Christian and we had a poignant and open discussion about things. After hearing my story, he recommended that I try going back on the med for a while. My doctor is a DO rather than an MD which is one of the reasons I chose him. But was he honest and sincere in telling me that I should really go back on the med. I am still on it but plan to bring it up again at my next appointment in January.
So, I tell you all that to say this. Depression is not the end of the world. Yes, there are times like this morning where it is difficult just to get out of bed and face another day. Along with that, there is this totally empty feeling that God is far away. As I finally hauled myself out of bed, I was asking God and myself what would be a good way to deal with this in a way that would honor God. That was actually hard to ask because like I said, in my heart, God was nowhere to be found this morning. But, empty hearted, I went out in the living room and knelt down (not an easy task for me, mind you) and leaning over a chair and just prayed. The only emotion I had was one of sadness. I asked God specifically to please just break me and that I really want to honor Him in my life. My mind kept telling me that being truly broken is an arduous and painful process. But I also believe that brokenness is the only true path for God’s people. I finally got dressed and made it into work.
My heart still ached but I kept asking God to show me how to honor Him today. I sat down and decided to listen to music as I worked. I went to good old YouTube and typed in the name Andrew Peterson and pulled up a string of music. Part of the title of this blog, The Rain Keeps Falling, is actually the title of one of his songs that I really like. YouTube came up with a live version of this song that Andrew did in a church. He told a little story that he wrote it in one of the darkest periods of his life and it was a time of depression. I thought at least that I am in good company.
I hope I can write the rest of this in a way that makes sense and is encouraging to you. I know for sure, that I am not the only one of God’s children who struggles in this area. In my Regeneration class at church, we are in a section that deals with being intimate with God. I hear over and over things like, “I just can’t feel close to God, God is far away,” and things like that. I’ve said that myself. I read in my book today that worship of God involves the heart and the mind. I tend to think most of us migrate toward the heart in worship. But I think what we are really saying is, I want to “feel” close to God and I want a worshipful experience. Is that what worship is about?
So, here are a couple of things I have been learning about worshiping God and how it ties into depression. One thing, at least for me, is that I have to realize how much God loves us. In class, my leader keeps reminding me of this, as he knows it is one of my issues. But I know that there is nothing I can do, or not do, that will make God love me anymore or any less than He does now. My friends, God’s love for us is perfect. We may wonder why He loves us like he does, but we need to stop doubting His love for us or thinking that if only we do (you name it) for Him, He will then love me and accept me. NO! God knows our frame. He knows we are weak, imperfect and sinful. But He loves us in spite of all that. What God wants is our heart. He wants our minds, emotions and wills (in other words, our hearts) to be sold out for Him. I have found in my battle with depression that when I think God is far away or can’t possible love me, that my depression is worse. Instead I need to realize that there is nothing that can remove God’s love from us (Romans 8:38-39). The bottom line is, GOD LOVES US!!!
Another thing I have been learning is that I can’t keep letting depression draw me into myself. What I mean by that is I start thinking how bad off I am, that no one cares, etc. I’ve heard a lot of times that the Christian life is not about me (or you), it’s about Him. It has almost become trite. Some personality types are prone to putting self above everything else. I’m one of them. When that starts happening I have found that the best thing I can do is just praise and worship God. I have several Psalms that I love to read when I am down, such as: Psalm 103, 139 and 145. There are many others, but those are some of my favorites. What does this praising and worshiping do? It takes our minds and hearts off of ourselves and brings God into focus.
The last thing I want to mention is that we cannot live by our feelings. I think I have mentioned this before but it is still a battle for me. We are emotional people and God made us that way. Emotions in and of themselves are not a bad thing. But the problem is that unless our emotions are happy and good, we think our lives are out of sorts. We have lots of encouragement in this. If you listen to Christian radio enough, you will hear it. A lot of Christian music is more about worshiping good feelings about God than it is about worshiping God. We have become a nation of emotional people, both inside and outside of the church. Just worship God for who He is. Worship and praise Him for His power, love, greatness, omnipresence, omniscience, grace, etc. We can do that no matter how we feel. The important thing is that we live our lives by faith and let the Holy Spirit have rule over our emotions.
The battle of depression is not over for me. It probably won’t be until I see God in glory. But thanks be to God and His mercy, I am seeing things in a new light and there is growth and hope. Thank you for taking this journey with me today. May we be broken before our God and love Him with all our hearts, soul and might (Deut. 6:4-5). And may we “regard one another as more important than ourselves” (Phil 2:3). May we be the community of God that He intends us to be. God bless you!!