It happens to us all. One day is bright and joyful, the next has a blue filter over everything. You can feel submerged in those blue feelings, uncertain why and how to get back to the surface. Apparently January is the saddest month of the year and the third Monday of January is said to be the most depressing day of the year! Depression is an extreme version of ‘The Blues’ and hits many people with something like one in four of us experiencing it at some point in our lives. Jim Carrey, Anne Hathaway, Johny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, Amy Winehouse, Hugh Lawrie, Karen Carpenter, Winston Churchill, Gwyneth Paltrow, Freddie Flintoff and Prince William are just a few of the famous who have acknowledged poor mental health at times. It affects all types and Christians are not immune! It’s not something to be ashamed of and is not a mark of failure. One song-writer shows it’s nothing new:
‘Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God’ – David (Psalm 69:1-3)
The World Health Organisation reveals:
- Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
- Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
- More women are affected by depression than men.
- Depression can lead to suicide
Can anything be done about these ‘blue days’ that can turn into the ‘black dog’ that Churchill felt took the colour out of his life?
- ‘Depression runs in my family on both sides, and I have to be wary’ – Dolly Parton
- ‘I was in the lowest place I've ever been. Honestly, I sort of, at one point, I just, I felt like I didn't want to see another day. I felt like it should be over’ – Michael Phelps
- ‘I've suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life’ – Lady Gaga
Much has been written about depression but it cannot be fully understood or explained. Symptoms can be recognised, causes can be guessed at, counselling can soothe, medication can numb, friends can help or hinder as did Job’s ‘miserable comforters’! The fact is that the human body and soul is awesome and generally robust but there are aspects that show it to be a delicate instrument that can be put out of kilter. This word ‘kilter’ comes from the old English dialect word 'kelter' which means 'good health or condition'. Like the old fashioned wind up watch or clock, give it a bad knock and it can stop working properly. Recognising it is the beginning of coping and perhaps recovery.
- ‘Depression begins with disappointment. When disappointment festers in our soul, it leads to discouragement’ – Joyce Meyer
- ‘My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken ... Trust in him at all time everyone, pour out your hearts to him for God is our refuge’ – Psalm 62:1-2, 8
We are often affected by the words others have said to us, events that have shaped us and the words we say to ourselves, sometimes known as ‘the inner tape’. The child of God is encouraged not to be defined by the words of others, to let God reshape us and to feed our minds on the truths of how God sees us. Bad companions ruin good character, poor advice leads to foolish actions and we are to take bad throughts and make them ‘obedient to Christ’. So if you are feeling mildly bluesy or right down in the dumps, here are some verses to help:
- ‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ – Isaiah 40:28-31
- ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’ – Isaiah 43:1-2
- ‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you’ – 1 Thessalonians 1:4
- ‘May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word’ – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
- ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ – 1 John 3:1
- ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ – John 10:10
- ‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me’ – Philippians 3:12
Let God’s mighty ‘eagle of grace’ lift you out of that ‘blues’ pit and give you a new perspective. The Psalms are full of comfort when you feel in that low place. Of great strength is Psalm 27 that speaks of ‘his stronghold’; Psalm 139 reminding us that there is no place so dark, light , high or deep that we can be away from God; Revelation 22 that points to the good ending and our eternal hope in Christ where there is ‘no death or mourning or crying’ and ‘God himself will be with us’. The Blues you suffer today are temporary and will eventually give way to the ‘golden hues’!
TAGS – depressed, tragic, hope, perspective, purpose