God Still Incarnates His Love
One essential and Biblical strategy for battling depression is the love and support of friends in the body of Christ.
Years ago, during a particularly rough week plagued by despondency, my wife thought I might be suicidal. She called two close friends of mine: my pastor, and a good friend who was on the staff of a different church in the area. My pastor took me to breakfast, reassured me of his love, prayed for me, and pleaded with me to seek medical intervention due to the chronic nature of my depression.
The other friend showed up at my house that same evening after dinner. He announced, “I hear you’ve had a few rough days. I don’t come with advice, but you need to know that I’m here for you. If you want to talk and pray, I’m available. But even if you’d rather read or watch TV, I’m not leaving your side for the next two hours!”
On a different occasion, a colleague at the college where I teach saw how bleak my spirit was over lunch. After I returned to my office, where I lay in a fetal position, totally immobilized by my depression, he came by unexpectedly. He wept, and said “I don’t know what to say to help you, but I’m here.” Then he prayed for me on the spot. His presence spoke louder than any words he could have used.
Once I drove to a friend’s house and knocked on the door. When his wife answered, I pleaded through tears, “Can I borrow David for a while?”
God’s means of loving us is still incarnational! Yet no one can help me bear the burden of depression unless I’m willing to swallow my pride, to let them know I’m hurting, to risk appearing as if I’m not living victoriously. I can’t receive an infusion of strength from others without self-disclosure, or transparency.
I wrote the following poem to the first two friends I cited in this post:
The load is heavy. My body is bent.
My spirit, too, is weak and spent.
Darkness hovers, though the sun is high.
Too tired to pray; too numb to cry.
Feeling hopeless, on a downward slide.
Then you knock, and come alongside.
Encouraging words, a listening ear.
I’m reassured that Christ is near.
When pain turns the heart to stone,
No one should have to go it alone.
In time and space, through thick and thin
God wraps His love in human skin.
What keeps us from tapping into this resource for sustenance? Why do so many suffer alone rather than reveal their need? Do you have a story of divine sustenance through friendships?
If you’re hurting alone, whether it’s depression or another kind of trial, who can help you carry this burden? No one can help you carry a burden that goes undisclosed (Gal. 6:2).