Strangled by Depression

…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… Isaiah 61:3 (KJV)

Depression is one of the ugliest words in the English language. Falling into its clutches can render even Christians helpless.

For years I prayed for Christian friends who were trapped in the seemingly endless maze of depression, unable to function normally. Then, apparently I let my guard down, and Satan gleefully threw his barbed dart into my own life.

It was not a series of tragic or disappointing circumstances that infected me. My life held no more pain or rejection than the average Christian. But suddenly a cement block descended on my chest, and I had trouble getting through the day. The joy God had blessed me with for so long was missing, and I grieved for its loss. None of my former occupations held any appeal for me. I had no control over my feelings of despair. Physically, I was weak and fumbling. Mentally, I was confused.

All my encouraging (I believed) remarks directed to others backfired on me: “Pray.” I couldn’t form the words or even thoughts. “Keep busy.” I had trouble putting one foot in front of the other. “Think of others.” I couldn’t get my thoughts straight. And the worst advice was “Count your blessings.” Oh, I had a lot to count. But when I thought of all my blessings the guilt of being depressed compounded the depression.

Finally I got angry. “I don’t care how bad I feel. I’m going to praise God anyway,” I shouted. I thanked God for His salvation and marvelous love. I praised Him for who He is, and pulled worship songs from the depths of my heart. I read aloud the words of David from the Psalms, when obviously he was depressed yet turned his cries of weakness into praise.

Gradually, the heaviness lifted and my joy returned. I am thankful now that God allowed me to experience that darkness so I have more understanding for others in its grasp. Hopefully my prayers for them will be more effective.

Dear Lord help those in the stranglehold of depression to lift their faces to You and praise You, no matter how they feel. And help me to keep myself wrapped in that garment of praise for Your glory. Amen.