With all the focus being placed on depression lately due to the suicide of popular comedian Robin Williams, it makes many of us wonder what it takes to bring true happiness. Depression can strike anyone. Everyone feels sad sometimes but depression is more than sadness, it is complete hopelessness and deep despair.
Contrary to what some may believe, depression affects Christians as well. It may seem like a Christian is the last person that should be affected by depression but there are times when life and circumstances can seem overwhelming and we may feel like there is no hope. What we feel and what is reality are actually two different things. This is because God is always near us especially in our darkest times.
In the poem, Footprints, the poet dreams of walking along the beach with Jesus and seeing scenes from her life. The poet notices that during calm periods in the walk of life, there were always two sets of footprints in the sand. Those footprints belonged to the poet and Jesus. However, during times of deep trouble, the poet despaired that there was only one set of footprints in the sand. Jesus told the poet that the one set of footprints in the sand were actually made by him while he was carrying her. When we are in the throes of despair, Jesus doesn’t walk beside us, he carries us.
The Psalmist David knew about depression in Psalm 23: 4, he writes, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’ Here circumstances that cause intense grief, suffering and depression are referred to as the valley of the shadow of death. Depression funneled by hopelessness has caused so many to take their lives it would seem that David describes it perfectly.
Jesus was not immune to depression, he knew what he was about to face on the cross and scripture tells us that he retired to the Garden of Gethsemane in order to pray. Before beginning his prayer vigil he is quoted as saying in Matthew 26: 38, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death’. Isn’t this the same valley of the shadow of death that David also spoke of? Jesus became so distressed that his sweat became drops of blood.
What a joy it is to know that even the savior of the world could feel this level of despair. He took on human form and understands all things. The Bible speaks about not feeling anxious about anything and releasing our mind from burdensome thoughts about what we will eat, drink or wear. It tells us that God feeds and clothes the birds of the air and about how much more he will do for his children.
Anxiety and depression walk hand in hand, the only way to conquer them is to realize that there really never is any reason to despair not when the creator is walking with us. David said, ‘thy rod and thy staff they comfort me’. Jesus received ministering angels in the garden of Gethsemane to ease his sorrow. The comfort given to David and Jesus is also freely given to us. We can be sure that in the most troublesome times there will only be one set of footprints in the sand.