I struggle with depression a lot. I become really withdrawn and closed off from the world. But still, I find hope in God. When the world is grey through my eyes, he is a ray of sunshine that comes through; when there are clouds, he is my silver lining.
I have to admit that even with Jesus, life beats me down and breaks me. I am thrown in all kinds of situations where I am pushed to give up hope. But even with the sadness, I try to carry myself in a spirit of hope and joy.
Jesus lived this way. I can imagine that it was incredibly difficult to face a world of persecution and hate, by those who are closest to you. Hard to deal with having your life threatened over and over, for what you believe in. But he had a hope about him; a strength and love in him that helped him persevere when times got difficult. Where does one gain such internal strength to face each and every day, despite opposition? That strength comes from the love of God.
“But, Lord, you are my shield, my wonderful God who gives me courage.” Psalm 3:3
“He protects those who are loyal to him, but evil people will be silenced in darkness. Power is not the key to success.” 1 Samuel 2:9
“The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.” Zephaniah 3:17
When we trust in God and hold tight to our faith, he is our protection and strength. That doesn’t mean life won’t get difficult, it doesn’t meant that we won’t get confused or not understand some of the odd things he does, or doesn’t do. But in trusting in him, we begin to stop trusting in the world. This means that when there is chaos in the world, we still have a sense of purpose and mission and hope in life.
I struggle with loneliness, with severe OCD, with lust, with anger and bitterness, and all of these things cause me depression. When I feel ignored and empty, I get severely depressed. At extreme points, I will think about suicide a little. But a hope for something better never fails to push such horrible thoughts away. The love in my heart reminds me that I am living for something bigger and far more wonderful than myself, and I realize that I truly have no right to take my own life away.
I am teaching myself to deal with this as I am trying to teach you to deal with it. I have to remind myself that sometimes, there are circumstances in this life that I cannot control, that are out of my hands, and I have to tell myself not to blame myself.
When something bad happens to my family, I may beat myself up about it, and I shouldn’t. When someone makes life really difficult for me or I feel like I never get anything I want, I am tempted to say that it’s because I’m not good enough, I must have did something bad and God is punishing me for it, he hates me, and so forth. But bad things don’t always happen and make us depressed necessarily because we did anything wrong.
Take Job in the bible, for example. He was a faithful man of God, and he walked with God. His life reflected his faith, and it pleased God. But Satan went to God and said that the only reason Job was faithful was because God had blessed him. If God took away these blessings, Job wouldn’t be faithful to him anymore. So the Lord let Satan take control of him, he let him do anything he wanted with him. He just said that he could not kill Job himself. So Satan destroyed his family, his children, his animals, basically his whole life. And Job and his friends tried to figure out why he was going through such hell. His friends had decided that Job must have done something wrong, and so he was being punished for it.
But that was not the case at all! Job had actually been faithful to God, so this brings me to this point: suffering = God is mad at you is not always true. Sometimes, we do suffer because we sin, but not always. The story of Job also brings me to another point: Job had not done anything wrong, it was some circumstance completely out of his control that brought him such suffering. Again, it’s not always our fault. We should never beat ourselves up for things that are not even our fault.
Sometimes God puts us through trials and difficulties to test us and see how faithful we are; sometimes he does it to get our attention and allow us to come to the conclusion that life is much too difficult to handle by ourselves. He may give us a hard time so that we give up on trusting ourselves and instead, put our trust fully in Christ, who knows how to take complete care of us.
The weight of depression on my shoulders is lifted a little when I realize that it does not always mean that I am guilty of anything. It’s important to realize this so that we can realize that God still loves us and that we are his children. He does want what is best for us, despite what he might put us through. If you always think you get depressed because you are guilty, you fall into a hopeless situation where you may give up on God because you think he does not love you anymore. He always, always, always loves us. Always.