I ran into a friend the other day who shared with me that she has been experiencing some physical and emotional struggles lately. Her face showed the strain of trying to move forward in a normal fashion as her voice quivered while we talked. The physical symptoms she was having seemed to ambush her out of no where, and it shook her to the core. She had even made a trip to the ER recently thinking she might be having a heart attack. How well I could identify with what she was saying because I, too, had walked through the dark valley of anxiety which eventually led me to the deep pit of depression. I wanted her to know that she was not alone. I wanted her to know that I cared about her and that she would get through this place of trial.
As I prayed for her and remembered the anguished look on her face, I recalled how my own feet stumbled trying to find solid ground not so many years ago. A series of events came together like a cataclysmic earthquake in my life. A dear friend that I had shared so many Bible studies with moved away. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and came to Florida so I could care for her needs, and I was trying to care for our four young children whom I was home schooling. The stress, the change, the heartache was more than I could handle. Heart palpitations, panic attacks and a total feeling of darkness seemed to overwhelm me. I cannot recall any physical pain as great as the pain of depression.
Through the love of my family, a sound counselor and a wonderful family doctor, I was able to over come this dark night of the soul which I had experienced. It took time, but glimmers of light broke through the shadows more and more every day as I studied the Bible looking for the answers I needed. There was no instant cure for the fractures I had in my heart. Only time and the love of Christ helped to bring light into that dark cave I was in.
Perhaps the greatest scripture shared with me during this time comes from 2 Corinthians 1:3-5: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." These words ministered to my soul as nothing else in scripture. To know, that my pain would be comforted by God and that He would use it to one day help others gave me back the hope I had lost.
When I pondered on this passage, I thought about the dark night of the soul that our Lord experienced in the garden before His arrest. So great was His agony that he shed great drops of blood as he prayed. He knew what lay ahead physically, but greater still was the crushing weight of carrying our sins in His sinless body. Yet, our Lord Jesus yielded Himself to the Father's will. He endured the cross for us, and no one can forget how He cried out in despair, "My God, My God why hast though forsaken me?"(Matt. 27:46). As I thought about his, I knew in my own heart that what Hebrews says is true: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." It was at that moment that light bulbs illuminated the darkness for me! Jesus knew how I felt, and He had over come all things. Therefore, I could too.
With new found understanding, and my feet once again firmly under me, I promised the Lord that I would take the comfort He had given to me and I would share it with others. I knew there were many Christians out there that had suffered from depression/anxiety and felt like a failure. They blamed themselves for not having enough faith to rise above the darkness; however, God does not waste any suffering we endure. He takes what is meant for evil and turns it for good if we allow Him.
As believers, we need to be ready to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. We need to be honest with one another instead of robotically saying, "I am fine" when life is NOT fine.
How can we pray for one another unless we do open up? The fellowship of Christ's body along with the healing comfort of God the Father will help to bring healing to those hurting hearts out there. I would not share my own journey if this were not true.
My prayer for my friend is that she will know that she will be all right. She can open up. Depression and anxiety are foes created by the Fall as surely as heart disease and cancer. More importantly, God brings comfort when we seek His face. Then, He allows us to pass the comfort along to one another. If you or someone you love has been or is facing the dark night of the soul, they need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is Jesus Christ and He will lead them out as surely as He has guided me. Take His comfort and share it with others! Selah!
Father, I pray for all who have traveled the dark path of depression and anxiety. Bring comfort to their souls and set them on solid ground again. Let them know that they are not alone and that You fully understand where they are at. Help them to find and place their hope in You once more. For we ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on what I have written. Perhaps someone has helped you to overcome a dark night of the soul. It is so helpful when we share with one another what God has done for us.