I wish that I wasn't so familiar with depression. Honestly, family events have devastated me over the years. Family life has often been brutal since my first wife's heart failure in 1990 and her death in 1994. Watching my son and daughter struggle with their mother's death has probably been the hardest and most depressing of all things in my life. I started experiencing health problems in 1999 that severely limited my ability to walk and exercise. In 2002 my beautiful wife Ann was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Life has been hard.
In all this I have had to change and change has not come easy for me ... needing to change has been cause for depression ... giving up on my life goals has brought darkness ... it has not been easy for this onetime fundamentalist. I have found, and I continue to find, that life can only be found in the Lord. I recently shared in our Longest Night service at church about how in deep despair I cried out to the Lord in worship and found Him there during the 4 years of my first wife's illness. The Holy Spirit still brings comfort and encouragement. Depression is not fatal as long as we continue to go to the Lord ... His yoke is easy and burden light.
This is where the battlefield truly lies my dear friends. Going to the Lord in worship and allowing your heart to break before Him ... giving Him your dreams and trusting Him to bring beauty for ashes ... the oil of joy for mourning ... this is where we find life ... as we let go. I read this verse this morning:
God helped them as they fought. God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. God answered their prayers because they trusted him. (1 Chronicles 5:20)God helped them as they fought because they prayed ... because they trusted Him. Make no mistake about this - depression is an intense spiritual battle ... one that only the Lord can win for us ... but only as we fight ... only as we pray ... only as we trust. I wish I could say that the battle was easy but it is not. I'll close with this quote from author John Eldredge:
"The story of your life is the story of the journey of your heart through a dangerous and beautiful world. It's the story of the long and sustained assault on your heart by the Enemy who knows who you could be ... and fears you. But it's also the story of the long and mysterious pursuit of your heart by the God who knows you truly and loves you deeply."Depression is an assault on our hearts by an enemy who wants us to believe that there is no redemption in pain. As 2006 closes I am reminded that this is why I write ... to remind you that God has an eye for redemption ... He can bring beautiful redemption from the ashes of depression. My life is a testimony to that redemption.