There’s been a whole host of interesting pieces written over the last few days about depression, prompted by what seems like a corporate struggle to come to terms with Robin Williams’ suicide.
I don’t think I have much to add other than to reaffirm the fact that many many people struggle with mental illness, that we ought not to be embarassed about it, and that there is help available.
The Scriptures are not ignorant of the dark night of the soul and there are a number of places where deep despair is articulated – immediate examples that spring to mind are Job’s grappling with his situation and Jonah’s response to God’s mercy. There are many different triggers and expressions but the reality of some form of depression is not something the Bible shies away from.
Christian songwriter Michael Card has an excellent rendition of Psalm 13 that brilliantly captures some of that despair.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
Psalm 13 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
The ultimate answer for the Christian is to be reminded of God’s great goodness seen in His bountiful provision of salvation. Of course, the path to that renewed understanding is often a long and difficult journey (and one which may require medical and other intervention) – but we ought never to doubt that the ultimate cure is God’s grace. The Psalmist hangs onto that one foundational truth.