Depression: Tested by fire

I have pondered  whether or not it is a good idea for me to have a blog.  I’ve been through a lot of the earlier sites like Livejornal and Xanga, and I’ve never stuck with them long.  I’d lose interest, forget, etc.  But mostly, I’d grow tired of writing about the same things and write about myself over and over again.  For me, depression is not a single scene in my life but an ever-recurring tone, a theme to which I can attribute a lot of my life.  There have been times where it has been crippling, where I would purposely avoid personal contact and hide in my room when I wasn’t at work or school.  I have had to fight through this probably since around age 15 and since then it has been a powerful force in my interactions throughout life.  But having been diagnosed with Bipolar II, I know that is just a portion of my life that I will have to deal with.

Everything is dark, I am miserable, I stare at the walls and nothing can bring me out of it.  Only lately have I seemed to escape this for the most part and I have to attribute it I think to my spiritual health.  I read my Bible, I go to Bible studies, go to church, listen to sermons from other churches via podcast, praying.  Everything just seems to have been much clearer and easier to withstand when there is knowledge that, through suffering, God will do his work.  Before all of this, I would work through depression in a functional manner.  I would essentially ignore this feeling and push through the manners in which it would manifest itself physically.  There have been days when I would tear up for no other reason other than the fact that I was feeling so down on myself and on life.  And there are still days like that and I would be remiss if I didn’t say I was having one of those moments now.  I can’t explain it, I don’t want to try.  I just know that there is something inside me that weights me like an anchor in the moment.  

One of the best explanations I’ve ever heard came from Dr. Joseph Schaaf, my old psychiatrist.  Before he picked up and moved to Wyoming [who does that?] he told me the worst thing about depression is that it roots you in the moment.  It forces you into thinking about nothing more than right here right now.  The trick is to put yourself beyond the moment and find something on the horizon.  Now, I look to the horizon to try and fix my eyes on a wooden cross bereft of a body.  I am trying to constantly realign my thoughts to Jesus who knew that suffering was just part of his job description and he died for the salvation of someone like me.  I didn’t understand this and sometimes I still bang my head against the wall mercilessly trying to understand.  I don’t know that anyone can fully comprehend the entirety of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  We don’t have the means to demonstrate the agony of it both physically and spiritually, there is no practical means of accomplishing this.  But the thought that it exceeds my comprehension only gives it that much more validity.  But, I digress… Slightly…

I had posed this question to a few friends who are a bit more knowledgeable about Biblical and spiritual matters because, in a lot of ways, I still feel like I’m still in my spiritual infancy.  In one of my bouts of depression I came across the following:

1 Peter 1:3-8

1 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Reading this now, I can’t really understand why I stumbled so hard over this.  I guess the problem was that I was unsure of how one rejoices in anything when they’re depressed.  The last thing on my mind in those kinds of times is rejoicing.  Bitterness, anger, sadness and even misery are all things that come to forefront, not so much rejoicing.  But reading this over again, I see that even though suffering is to be a natural course of things and trials will come up, there is still the greater love of my Father through his son Jesus.  And that the means in which I suffer are only a measure of the strength of my faith, which is stronger than gold when tested by the burning flames of, for instance, my emotional instability.  That is the point I think I miss and I think perhaps a lot of people overlook.  

There is a sad isolation that can only be experienced through depression.  But we have to remember that Jesus is still at work today, protecting us, guiding us and it’s in those times that we have to remember [to quote John Piper] “God is enough”.

There is a song by Becoming the Archetype that I found as I was searching for things related to this particular topic.  I think I’ll post it here as it so wonderfully summarizes the purpose of what I am talking about.

“Endure”

This life is an open wound that will not heal.
I cry out to God with all of my strength.
Desperately, I reach for Him in the night.
This misery keeps my eyes from closing,
keeps my mouth from being able to speak.
Is this as far as the arm of God extends?
Has the fire burned itself out?
There is no profit in this way of thinking.
I must escape this frame of mind.
And when I think of all He has done,
when I consider all that He is,
I am complete.

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One thought on “Depression: Tested by fire

  1. You have this incredible disparity between how the gospel is presented by many churches, it is all about making your life better. And then there is this jarring message of Scripture: take up your cross and follow him. It is so little about us. Yet when it is so much about Jesus it becomes very much about us in a very real and helpful way. Thanks for the post, bro.

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