Summer is turning to autumn. In fact, as I type these lines, today’s the day. For some time now darkness has been stealing the light from us. Here in Northeast Ohio we lose forty-nine minutes of daylight during the month of September. Since summer solstice we’ve lost three full hours of each day’s light.
Had you noticed? Perhaps by now you have, but it happens so incrementally that it is nearly imperceptible. Then one day you awaken asking where the sunrise has gone. One evening you have to head inside sooner than you’ve been accustomed to.
Darkness falls. It’s the way the world works.
Darkness falls. It’s the way some lives unfold. Darkness encroaches, and I’m not speaking only of the celestial kind.
If statistics prove true—and we have no reason to believe they won’t—the darkness of depression has already fallen on about ten percent of the people that moved in and around your life today. Did you notice? If your life intersects in some way with twenty other people today the probabilities are that two of them are currently experiencing some significant level of depression. Did you see them? Notice them? Detect their struggle?
Maybe you find yourself asking, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5).
Depression is a reality that inserts itself into every life—if not in personal experience, then in the experience of someone in your family, school, workplace, neighborhood, and, yes, even your church. It’s true: followers of Christ deal with depression too. Sadly, some feel shame for even being in the struggle, which only serves to deepen the darkness.
Depression is a wide river. In places it narrows into angry rapids, and in others it broadens into slower moving doldrums. It is deeper in some places, more shallow in others. It is fraught with hidden snares and snags hidden beneath an otherwise serene surface. Powerful currents remain unseen by most, but they grip and refuse to release those caught in their power—dragging them ever downward, deeper into despair.
All that is to say, depression has commonalities wherever it is found, but it is experienced personally and uniquely. Depression may manifest itself differently in each life, but it is darkness all. Solomon was right: “The heart knows its own bitterness” (Prov. 14:10a) . . . and the rest are left only guessing and trying to imagine.
Beginning in November I’m going to begin a series of six messages on Sunday mornings that address the all-too-common reality of depression. I would surely appreciate your prayers. Pray not only for me, but also for the other two men–a psychologist and a trained clinical counselor–who will each take one of the messages. Pray that these weeks and our messages will truly be healing for the wounded, burdened folks who will be present.
Here’s how I’ve outlined the series:
When Darkness Falls: Walking Through Depression
“It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9)
Isaiah repeatedly speaks of “that day” (over forty times!). It is a “day” when things will be different than they are today.
Here Isaiah anticipates that “on that day” what will be different is that God will show up—clearly, undeniably, manifestly, and demonstrably. There will be no arguing to the contrary. The evidence will be indisputable.
The Lord’s appearance will come after long waiting by His people. The lengthy anticipation will serve only to heighten the joy felt “on that day.” All the faithful will be able to say at that time: “Behold, this is our God” and “we have waited for him, and he has saved us.” The hope and faith of the believing will be vindicated. What they’d tried to describe to others along the way through each “today” will be then demonstrably set before their eyes. “On that day” God’s people will simply call them to look and “Behold” that of which, heretofore, they had only heard.
This reminds us that today’s faith-filled risk/obedience will be vindicated. Guaranteed. Hope will be fulfilled. Him whom no eye has seen nor can see will be where we can “Behold” and see Him in His glory. Time is on the side of the believing. Vindication of every step of trusting obedience is inevitable.
So trust the Lord today with great abandon. Step out in obedience with every confidence. On this day follow without fear, for “on that day” we will “be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Accept today’s price for hope, but know that tomorrow’s payout will dwarf any cost you incur through today’s obedience.