Matthew 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
I've suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, it gets so bad that I have to take medicine; at other times, I manage to get through on my own willpower and strength. It's not something that we who suffer from it can predict will happen, and because there is still such a stigma attached to it, we don't want to broadcast it or burden others with our woes. We just have to get through each day and hope that the gloom will lift eventually. I find that the winter months can be the most gruelling, which may have something to do with the shortened days and longer nights.
When I think about depression, I have my own ideas. Firstly, I think that everybody goes through some form of depression in their lives. Secondly — and I know it will sound crazy — I wonder if we're supposed to hibernate as mammals and slow down during winter. All our current busyness and hyperactivity seems to go against the natural order of things. Some scholars believe that in Mark 6:7-13, Jesus sent out His disciples on a winter mission while He took a break from teaching with his own family, and they regathered in the spring.
In my bleakest moments — and believe me, there are some real dingers — I turn to the Scriptures for help and comfort. Usually, a verse from the Psalms pinpoints what I'm experiencing, but overall, today's highlighted verse from the lips of Jesus keeps me focused on getting better and holding on to my faith. I guess this verse appeals to me because personally, depression feels like a time of spiritual poverty and emptiness in my soul that only God's presence and compassion can fill.
Perhaps you weren't expecting this kind of confession from me. After all, I'm a pastor, so I should be so full of the Spirit that depression should not be able to touch or affect me. But like many great characters in the Bible, I'm only human, so of course, I can succumb to depression — just like Abraham, Jacob, Noah, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Naomi, Saul, David, Jonah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Mary, Peter, Thomas, Paul, John Mark … and the list goes on.
Whatever you are going through today, please know this: as one who trusts Jesus, you belong to God and His kingdom, which means that you are loved eternally and embraced completely.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all need to be reassured and loved. When depression overwhelms us, keep us safe in Your arms. When spiritual poverty besets us, enrich us with Your compassion and love. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "The King Of Love My Shepherd Is" (Lyrics)