“Why won’t you heal me, Lord?”
Have you ever asked that question? Three years ago I found myself in what felt like a deep spiritual hole. I felt hopeless, dark within my soul, and crying enough tears to fill up the Grand Canyon. I felt like I was in a dark room and couldn’t find the doorknob to get out. I did not contemplate suicide but I desperately wanted it to stop. I found myself confessing any and every sin wondering if this dark season was a byproduct of sin. I gave “it” the name of spiritual warfare and took it as part of the battle. The problem was it never seemed to go away. There was this intense season of trying to figure out what this was called. Is it spiritual warfare? Is it depression? Is it both? But even if I could put a name to “it,” I would still have to learn how to deal with it.
Ashamed of My Depression
I remember hearing the doctor’s words of telling me it was depression and that I would have to be on antidepressants. I was automatically ashamed and embarrassed. I hated hearing the word depression. I felt weak and like I was lesser of a person. I was terrified to lose my job as a pastor. I was afraid that the congregation would think that I was too unfit to lead them.
What if my elders found out? What if I lose church members? Thankfully I have loving elders and a loving church, but that fear was there. I knew that there is this deep-rooted stigma attached to depression, and I didn’t want to fall into that. I didn’t want people to look at me differently or feel sorry for me as if I needed extra attention or needed to be coddled.
I feared of being lumped into a category of not being suitable, lesser than, or unfit to lead. I lived with this secret for years and feared being found out. I was ashamed and hated that depression found me. See, the truth is, I didn’t ask for depression to come my way, and depression never asked me if it could come in. It just showed up unannounced with no invitation.
It Didn’t Go Away
I remember hearing that people with depression should think positive thoughts. I did, and it didn’t go away. I heard they should memorize scripture, I did and it didn’t go away. Nothing seemed to help, and I felt stuck. I don’t mean to be a joy or hope killer, but this is my reality. Do I believe God can heal me? Yes. This is why I took the approach of desperately pleading with Him to heal me. I felt like Paul at the time, “I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9.)
I remember asking Him, “Why won’t you heal me?” I told Him I could be a more effective husband, father, and pastor…but no answer. I have become frustrated at times, even angry. But ultimately I have learned to accept it and know that His grace is sufficient. That’s easier to type than it is to live out sometimes, but while the ups and downs of my emotions may look similar to a rollercoaster at an amusement park, the Word of God is constant and not a moving target. Don’t get me wrong, I still pray to be freed and healed, but I’ve learned to trust the thorn I have.
So What Do We Do?
You may be asking, “So what do I do if I have depression?” I know there are times when you will feel like there is no way out and no one understands. It feels like you are in a tunnel at times and there is no solution for this battle. Understand this: I am not a mental health professional, but from my experience, here are several things I would tell you:
- See a professional. Sometimes the Lord will use this to help you in this battle. Far from being a cop-out, seeking medical advice for dealing with your depression could be how God has chosen to help you in your fight.
- Find a safe person to share your honest thoughts and feelings with. Talking about it in a safe environment will often help you to find some momentary victories and Godly perspectives.
- Rely daily on His Grace. Know that God is not punishing you, nor has He left you. I can tell you first hand that your emotions and the enemy want you to feel this way, but the Word of God promises otherwise.
- Pray (even when you don’t feel like praying). We have a great promise in Romans 8:26 that the Spirit intercedes on our behalf. No matter how lacking you feel your prayers are, the Spirit covers them in His fullness. This is great news!
- Fight against false shame and guilt. As Paul says, “Take every thought captive,” otherwise your thoughts will take you captive. You will have to fight the battle of the mind. This is very hard, but you can do it!
- It doesn’t define you. You are so much more than your depression.
I understand this blog post will not be the silver bullet or solution to your depression, but I hope and pray that it helps bring some clarity and comfort knowing that you are not alone. God is with you even when it feels like He is absent.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 right now or chat with someone online here.