Today I want to paint a picture for you. It might be possible to pack some of the things you have experienced into this picture and make it yours. Often we are so wrapped up in our personal affairs that we seldom think that others could have more tragic stories than our own. This does not mean we are thoughtless when it comes to others, but it does show that mostly we live in our personal world where we keep our business to ourselves whilst keeping others out and not involving ourselves in their lives, business and problems. This personal strategy has many positives, yet it creates the environment where we not only have a private world but also never seek help with the matters that weigh heavily upon our minds. We exclude others who might be able to help.
Here’s the picture … they grew up as a man and woman, not knowing each other until they are in their early twenties. They both have a rather difficult upbringing. Although his father never featured and his mother being the bread winner, poverty governed his early and teen life. Her parents were around, though they treated their children extremely poorly. Alcohol flowed viciously … and although there was no physical abuse, mental abuse to the point of humiliating cruelty was a regular occurrence … if not daily. Her description of her father is so sad … “he was nothing more than a drunken, fighting, abusive man”. She says the feeling of worthlessness and helplessness drove her to leave home soon after she started working.
After a period of time, she met him and they became an item, eventually marrying. When they were churched, life was great and so was the marriage … but after a few years he started to drink alcohol, have nights away from home, running up huge clothing accounts to dress up for the handful of girlfriends he accumulated. Slowly he stopped contributing his share to run the household. He neglected his children and his wife and eventually suffered a premature death leaving her in a terrible mess. On top of all this, certain aspects of her health are starting to affect her. Again, the feeling of uselessness, worthlessness and helplessness flooded her heart and mind.
Although this picture is a quick sketch of her life in particular … the actually story could be written into a bestselling novel. If what has been said about her life story was yours, how would you respond health-wise, mentally and emotionally and in your general relationship to your children, parents, employment and friends? Are you able to identify with anything in this story? What would you think is the major issue that this lady is facing today? Although her story is cut short, the constant abuse form her parents, especially her father scarred her mind to the point where she “believes” she is worthless and useless. Then added to hundreds of similar experiences as a wife coupled to her husband literally deserting the marriage bed for many other beds seems to have cemented that feeling of worthlessness and uselessness. The result is depression! This lady, although struggling with these emotional problems for most of her life, has been a fighter. When you see what she has been through and what she has achieved, you would be proud of her.
Depression is what we could label as a silent illness or perhaps even a silent killer. Depression can be rooted in the physical, psychological or biological, but very often it could be induced through sin. In the case of this lady, it is mainly related to sin … not her sin, but the sin of her parents and husband. She might need medication, but the best medication is spiritual. Although I have referred to the “pit” before, I want to share it again because depression is a literal pit of utter despair. Look at a well-known Psalm:
Ps 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD, he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
Not knowing the situation the Psalmist was in helps us because we can make these three verses our story without twisting the text. The first requirement is patience because we cannot push, force or demand God to hurry up and meet our personal needs. He has His timing and that is the best time even though the agony endured might be intense. Look at what he did whilst he waited patiently … he cried out to God. He was in such trauma and pain and suffering that all he could do was cry … out to God … and irrespective what you think, God does respond to prayer! I helped my dad and his friend dig a well when I was around ten years old. They placed a cement cylinder on the sand and dug the inside out. The cylinder sank. Another cylinder was placed on the first one and more digging until the well was about three meters deep. Water was seeping through the sand into the well. Down there it is was scary, cold, dark, miserable and wet. You could feel the mud seeping through the gaps in your toes. That’s the picture of the Psalmist … whatever his reason for depression, he felt as though he was in that cold, dark, miserable, wet pit. Now look how God responds to his cry … God lifted him out of the mess and pain and suffering … but He does not just remove the problem … He places him in security, relief, stability and happiness! Even though the depression is largely silent, the change God makes when He lifts you out of the pit of despair is so dramatic that the changed life will be seen by others … in the same way the rejuvenated Psalmist’s was. Remember, the medication is not just prayer … it is the Word of God coupled to urgent, soul searching prayer. And … when we do, God can–and God will!
Dear God, thank You for the gift of both the Bible and prayer. Thank You also that in my anguish and depression and pain and suffering I am able to seek You and find You when I do so truthfully. May You be glorified. Amen.