Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, “Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity)”
Psalm 143.7-11 (NLT)
7 Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
or I will die.
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.
11 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
Susan Paloschi, “Concentration”
“My grief (depression) is beyond healing, my heart is sick within me” (Jeremiah 8:18, emphasis added).
The early Church Fathers called depression dejection. St. John Cassian described dejection this way: obscuring the soul, keeping it from good works, preventing it from praying and reading, the inability to be gentle and compassionate toward our brethren, instilling hatred of work, undermining resolutions and persistence, and captivity to despairing thoughts. The contemporary scientific criteria that describe depression include: feeling sad or empty, diminished interest or pleasure, agitation, energy loss, and inability to think.
“Wistful Dejection,” Benjamin Victor Kelley
O Holy Spirit,
descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners
of this neglected dwelling
and scatter there
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5
Most gracious and kindhearted Father, my heart goes out and my prayers reach up today on behalf of those who struggle with various degrees of depression. There are people I deeply care about who live all along the axis of mild seasonal melancholy to the relentless pangs of suicidal depression.
Father of mercies and God of all comfort, lead me in my praying and my caring for this wide range of friends. Thank you for rescuing me from a way too simplistic view of depression by which I used to judge those who experience darkness and despair of soul. It saddens me to realize the pressure I put on people to get better… to “get over it”… and just to be happy.
But David asked the right question, Father—the question I want to ask as I seek to love well. What are the various reasons for a downcast disturbed soul, and what does hoping in you look like for each?
Father, for my friends who are depressed for no other reason than living with a grace-less gospel-less heart… keep them miserable until they rest in the finished work of your Son, Jesus. May they despair of their own unrighteousness and their wanna-be-righteousness, until they are driven to the righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus.
Father, for my friends who suffer from depression generated by anatomical anomalies, lead them to the right kind of medical care. And help us in the community of faith be patient and understanding of the complexities involved in their care. The risk of abusing “meds” is always there… give us wisdom together.
Father, for my friends who suffer from demonic induced depression… I really need humility and wisdom about this one. A part of me doesn’t even want to acknowledge this is a viable issue, but how can I read your Word and dismiss the demonic so lightly? I know his condemning… blaming and shaming voice is enough to generate the deepest forms of despair. But teach me more about the “schemes of the enemy,” and how to care for those under the spell and sway of the “defeated-yet-fury-filled” one, who knows “his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)
Pastor Scotty Smith
“Research suggests that religious belief can help protect against symptoms of depression, but a study at Rush University Medical Center goes one step further.
In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment, according to a paper in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.”
Read the entire article at Rush University Medical Center
(word in bold my personal edit)