Steve struggled to find the energy to make it through the day. He felt limp and lethargic. He knew a lot of people depended on him, which made him feel even worse.
Steve sensed he was depressed. Even worse, he feared he was suffering from depression.
Depression can come in different shapes and sizes. There is clinical depression and then there are the “blues” or brief variations in mood. Sad, irritated, disappointed, and frustrated — Steve barely managed to get himself through his days and nights.
He found his mind wandering back to memories of his father. Steve’s dad died several months ago, but he couldn’t seem to shake the melancholy feelings of sadness. Steve knew his father was no longer in pain. He believed in the promise of heaven. He knew all these things, but he still felt alone and sad. Sometimes, he even felt guilty for feeling sad and lonely.
Steve found comfort in a couple of close friends who could relate to how he felt. They reminded Steve that it was okay to be sad. One of his friends reassured him that loss hurts but that our future hope is in Christ Jesus. And so, Steve started to really think about why he was feeling so down. He began to be honest about the realities of his depression. He started to write down his feelings and thoughts and reflected on what he had written in the hopes he might discover what was behind his sadness.
Steve began to learn that it was okay to miss his father. It was okay to love his father. Since Jesus lives, so does Steve’s father. Steve learned that his father was not just someone he loved. Because of Jesus’ promise, Steve’s father is someone he loves.
We miss people because we love them. And that hurts. The Lord Jesus understands the weight of depression. He reaches out to us when we are discouraged, down, and depressed.
The Bible promises that God will give us consolation amid depression. The prophet Isaiah offered this encouragement:
[The LORD] provides for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3
The Lord knows that depression is not just something we shake off. It needs treatment. He provides caring counselors who desire to help us to heal. The Lord Jesus also provides healing by promising to be with us. He is faithful to us and meets us in our sadness. He loves us so much, however, that he doesn’t leave us where he finds us. He works change.
His loving presence provides the courage to look deep inside to see the pain, loss, guilt, or shame we may carry. Jesus’s love also gives us the permission to bring those hidden hurts to the surface and to place them into his loving hands. And Jesus promises beauty instead of ashes, joy in the place of mourning, and comfort for our heavy hearts. He promises to handle our hurts with loving care. And that’s where hope and healing begin.
Lord, sometimes we all get down. Today I feel like I am walking in the dark. I trust you, Jesus. Give me the comfort of your presence in my sadness. Help me to bring my feelings to the surface so that I have the courage to talk to you and with others about them. In your name, I pray, dear Jesus. Amen.