If you have followed along on my Facebook page you have no doubt noticed that I celebrate the comfort and truth of God’s word, the hope we have in Christ, and the invigorating exploration of apologetics, as well as the beauty of literature and poetry, and the power that resides in the written word. It is said that in America, we have lost some 60% of the words that scholars used to utilize at the zenith of our language. How I envy the ability to write as Shakespeare did, or Jane Austin, or Cervantes.
But within these posts, you may have noticed an underline addressing of despondency; an analysis of heartache, tragedy, and melancholy; a searching for some future hope, or purpose, a loss of life’s magic, and even a celebration of beautiful literature surrounding these feelings.
The Greeks did honor to both masks, remember, the joyful laughter, as well as the tragedy of sorrow. We sometimes presume that the families who file into church Sunday mornings are balanced, happy, stable, even perfect. Pastors preach about sins, and tribulations faced, in a general way. But it often doesn’t appear to land on the well-dressed, well-behaved, perfect people in the pews.
But these same people fight within their marriages, have trust issues, have broken hearts, cry in Sunday school classes, face anxieties.
Charles Spurgeon once said in a sermon, “I wonder every day that there are not more suicides, considering the troubles of this life.”
We can end up rejecting, or not walking with God, due to our despondency. Prayer and rest become empty. Friends who “comfort” you with scripture feels like bright lights during a migraine. And when it doesn’t appear that Christ is “enough” and you aren’t exemplifying the fruits of the spirit such as joy and peace in your walk, those friends can become accusatory. Perhaps you don’t have Christ in your life? Perhaps you don’t have faith? Why can’t you just cheer up?
Zack Eswine, who wrote about Spurgeon’s sufferings said this:
“Conscious only of our miseries, we become like those who love a person without that love being returned. To carry out the metaphor, what is worse, we must listen in as the one we love marries another and goes on with life happily without us… the toasts and cheers from their family and friends only magnifies the absence, anxiety, and rejection with which we must live. This is what it is like with God.”
As we cling to God when all our evidences are clouded, and joys are fled, our grip on the cross becomes a desperate grasp.
The Psalmist said, “When I remember God, I moan: when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah.” (Psalms 77:3)
These feelings are real, and I dare say, prevalent within the church. Addressing it, and talking about it is the only way to deal with it. Of course continue to take it to the Bible, and to God, but finding a peer group that is committed to each other, and to exploring ways to grow in their walk is vital. To grow in faith together, so that even as emotions ebb and flow, the faith on the promises of God do not.
We do not shy away from the fact that there is a precedence in the Bible for addressing depression. There was suffering and longing in the desert. David was broken by his sin, and the repercussions that unfolded because of it. Solomon had all worldly pleasures, and delivered us the book of Ecclesiastes, which spells out the vanity of our lives. Even our savior Himself, according to Isaiah 53, was prophesied to be the “Man of Sorrows.” And indeed, He was, taking on the rejection of the people He came to save.
I am starting a group within my church, a place to encourage each other, and to identify a means of support for those who can no longer pretend to have it all together. I feel called to this particular type of ministry, as I have noticed the common, anonymous, social media versions of this are riddled with unhelpful distractions. Often the classes available in church will never address some of these truths in our lives. College class, parents with children class, young adults, singles, married couples class, a place to study the word to be sure, but upon leaving, those issues will be waiting within your week to smother the spirit.
Charles Spurgeon was a tremendous warrior for the Lord, and his sermons are studied and quoted to this day. He fought as a soldier bought by the blood of Christ, and is widely respected by pastors the world over. But he testified once, “I could readily enough have laid violent hands upon myself, to escape from my misery.” Referring to his own death, he said, “I know one who, in the bitterness of his soul, has often prayed it.”
If you start by knowing that you not only aren’t alone, but that you are in fact in the best of company, well then it is a step. My hope is that the encouraging of one another will follow. God bless.