A response to depression far more difficult to experience than it is to write about
About 15 years ago, over a period of months, I begged the Lord to heal me of chronic depression. The initial benefit of anti-depressants had waned. Counseling hadn’t alleviated my burden. And God’s response to my pleading was silence.
I recall the day in 2003 when my perspective shifted. I concluded that the sovereignty of God is either a sterile doctrine or a dynamic reality. Could I trust Him with my propensity for despondency? What were the implications of the fact that He had not heeded my cries for direct intervention, and that the more common means of grace weren’t working? Was this my “thorn in the flesh” to keep me humble and dependent? Did I really believe Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all”?
That’s when the slant of my prayers also changed. Through tears, I surrendered my desire to be more emotionally whole. I prayed words similar to these: “Father, if You choose not to lift this veil of darkness, I accept that. I’m yours. You’re still good. You know what you’re about. If this vulnerability to despondency always characterizes me, I’ll assume You have a reason. I’ll trust You to sustain me through the pain and use me in spite of it. What matters isn’t that others perceive me as weak, but that they perceive You as strong. If You don’t take away my despondency, use it for redemptive purposes.”
I didn’t pray that glibly. I relented only after years of bucking the way God had put me together.
Don’t misunderstand. I firmly believe that medical intervention and counseling are forms of God’s “common grace” to mankind. After an eight-year hiatus, due to an escalating number of depressive episodes, I am back on medication. My experience of surrender doesn’t mean I never avail myself of those two resources for chronic depression. Occasionally, I still visit a Christian counselor to help me deal with negative thought patterns and receive objective input on issues I’m facing.
My submission to God’s sovereignty over my despondency was essential for me, yet it doesn’t preclude my striving for emotional stability. What it means is that I’m willing to accept God’s will even when my efforts don’t work.
Please…fight for your joy! Utilize all the weapons at your disposal: the body of Christ; professional counselors; medical intervention and other resources, such as heartfelt prayer and God’s Word. But when push comes to shove, surrendering to God’s sovereign will for your life may be the place to start.
What thoughts roil around in your head after reading this post? Why is such a surrender not tantamount to giving up on the quest for emotional wholeness or stability?
In what other circumstances do we need to tighten our grasp on the sovereignty of God? Is there an area of your life where submission to the sovereignty of God is necessary?