God and Depression
The Swamp of Sadness
By Tiffany Wismer
Anger motivates you, makes you feel like you’ve got a cause. But, like a flame, anger burns out and leaves ashes. Depression is perhaps one of the most difficult things for a Christian to deal with. On the tail of a crisis, a failure, or a series of difficult life changes or circumstances, your body and mind can literally sink, like the Pilgrim in Bunyan’s classic, into the “slough of despond”… or like Artax the horse into the swamp of sadness.
I think it’s quite true that depression is physical – that the chemicals in your brain play a part. It certainly feels physical. The constant ache in your chest. The tightness in your throat. The fatigue. When Harry Potter asks Dumbledore, at the end of book #7, whether what he’s experiencing is real, or just happening inside his head, Dumbledore responds with “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” I think depression is like that.
God and Depression: Forgotten Promises
In Pilgrim’s Progress, when Christian finally gets out of the slough, a man named Help asks him an interesting question. He says “why didn’t you look for the steps?” Now, this is not referring to stairs, but stepping stones. Chapter 22 makes this clear, because Christiana, when she follows her husband on his journey, finds these steps and crosses them. Bunyan tells us at that time that they are the promises of God. Christian forgot them and so he fell into the slough.
If someone had told me, while I was depressed, that becoming “un-depressed” was a matter of remembering the promises of God, I probably would not have really believed it. Stay with me for a few more posts and I will show you how God showed me that it is very true. When God says something, in His Word, with His Voice, it comes with power. Power to change your mind, your heart, and even your body. God is the Creator, and His Voice still has creative power. When we are told, in Romans 12:2, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, it means that reading the Word and letting The Voice permeate our being is one of the most important ways God has ordained for our sanctification.
God and Depression: Hope
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, and a child of God, and depression has crept into your life, the best advice I have in this moment is to remember your identity. Depression happens to you, but it is not you. The worst lie is when Satan convinces us that depression is simply a part of our personality. I had begun to believe this. Again, follow me through the next few posts and I’ll show you how God showed me that my identity is Christ – not depression.
I wish Artax had known.
Image: Atreyu and Artax; The Neverending Story