When joy is fleeting it can be hard to rise up and take your place at the wall. In this week’s Monday Minute, Muriel shares how God has helped her overcome depression.
When Joy is Fleeting
by Muriel Gregory
Pentagon ‘Very Concerned’ With Military Suicide Trends; Effect of Pandemic on 2020 Rates Unclear
The human costs of the pandemic: Is it time to prioritize well-being?
Suicide Rate Keeps Rising Among Young Americans
Headlines seem to confirm a growing suspicion: our world is becoming increasingly bleak. The statistics do not lie. Our country is lonely and overmedicated. According to a recent article published by Harvard Medical School, “the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008.” Truth be told, I do not need to read the paper or search on the internet. A quick scan of my friends and family will confirm the data.
Feelings of sadness or dejection do not characterize depression.
Instead, it is a never-ending sadness that weighs you down and saps the joy out of all your activities. Left untreated, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts.
At the deepest part of my depression, I remember being in the car with my family. The weather was beautiful, we were heading to a fun outing, but I felt empty, lonely, and miserable. As the psalmist beautifully said, my soul was downcast (Psalm 42). I thought I had reached the depth of my despair and the scariest thing was that I did not care… At that exact moment, one of my kids beckoned for my attention. As I stared at him, I was reminded of my obligations and that little people depended on me. I knew I needed to seek help.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
My salvation and my God.
One of the most depressing books (in my humble opinion) in the Bible is Lamentations. Verse after verse, Jeremiah pours out the laments of his depressed heart. Needless to say, I used to skim those chapters during my yearly Bible reading plan… That is until I listened to an inspiring teaching on the benefits of laments.
It turns out that lamenting is good for your soul!
Mark Vroegop explained in an article published on Desiring God, “But lament is different than crying because lament is a form of prayer. It is more than just the expression of sorrow or the venting of emotion. Lament talks to God about pain. And it has a unique purpose: trust. It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows to help us to renew our confidence in God.”
Laments turn your mind toward God when sadness incites you to run from him.
The Psalms offer us many excellent examples for lament. Mark used Psalm 13 as he explained the four stages of lament:
- Turn to God
- Bring your complaint
- Ask for help
- Choose to trust
Lament prayers take faith. They are the language of sorrowful beings in a downcast world.
At the onset of my first depression, I was not familiar with this type of prayer. I have since learned to voice my pains and frustrations to God, inviting him into the depth of my struggles and experiencing his healing.
Here are a few things I learned over the years:
- Do not neglect medical attention and see a doctor if things are getting worse. Medication will help you clear the depression fog.
- Do not neglect exercise. Depression tells you you can’t get out of bed. The truth is you are physically able to. Physical activity will reset your mind.
- Eat well. Comfort foods are fine every once in a while but feed your body proper nutrition. It will boost your healing.
- Learn to trust the one who created you with the dark night of your soul. He made you. He can heal you.
Pray Journal your lament prayers. It will help you focus your thoughts and turn your gaze toward heaven. It will also be an incredible testimony of the healing God will perform. (Matthew 8:16)
Connect Share your struggles and pains with a friend. 40% of the American population does not have a confidant. We need each other, and we need trusting relationships and accountability. (Proverbs 17:17)
Worship Thanksgiving and praise are sure antidotes to a depressed soul. Psalms of lament may start with tears but always finish with praising God. Give thanks (1 Chronicles 16:34-35). Praise him (Psalm 148:1-5). Rejoice (Isaiah 61:10).
Lord, I am thankful that even in the darkest night, you are here with me. I pray that I will seek you and trust the promise that as I draw near to you, you will draw near to me. You are my light in the darkness and the ultimate healer of my soul. Amen.
Here is a list of the Psalms that fall under the lament style:
3, 4, 5, 7, 9-10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25, 26, 28, 31, 39, 40:12-17, 41, 42-43, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 71, 77, 86, 120, 139, 141, 142