Sadness. Despair. Depression. Suicide. Our world lost a comedic legend this week to suicide, and with his death, many questions have been stirred up about depression, mental illness, and suicide. Many have wondered how someone so funny could struggle with depression and commit suicide, and as always, there have been those who claim a person who’s depressed is simply weak. Yet over the years, I’ve learned that even the strongest of Christians are not immune to despair and thoughts of suicide.
I used to think a Christian dealing with depression was an isolated event, like an eclipse, but it’s not true. The fact is more people than not have dealt with depression at least once in their lives. According to the CDC, one out six Americans has a mental illness, which includes depression. So why aren’t we talking about this? Better yet, why aren’t Christians talking about this?
I was only twenty-one-years old when I realized I needed help. I was driving down the interstate when the thought crossed my mind that I could have an “accident” while driving and kill myself and no one would ever know. Thankfully, I made it back to my college campus safe and sound, where I promptly signed-up for counseling. Of all the decisions I’ve ever made in my life, that was the smartest thing I’ve ever done, next to asking Jesus to save me from my sins.
Counseling became the place where I realized I was drowning in my emotions, where I was finally able to admit I hated my life. For the first time, I could say I hated being sick with multiple illnesses, having numerous doctors’ numbers programmed into my phone, taking a ridiculous amount of medicine, and staying home while all my friends went out and had a good time. And it became the place where I finally understood that Jesus cared about more than my sins and many failures. He cared about ME.
Grace was just another word in my Christian vocabulary. Until that day, I had no clue what it meant. It was simply a word in a famous hymn. Yet grace is so much more! It means unmerited favor, approval, blessing, credit, and my personal favorite – regeneration. God’s grace is what gives us the ability to rise above the difficulties, suffering, and pain of this life. It comes from His love and floods our lives with His power. Grace alone can reach into the muck and mire, pull us to safety, and take something deplorable and turn it into a blessing. It helps people break free from wrestling with their inner demons of fear, worry, and despair and enables them to walk in victory. Grace truly is amazing. Without it, we are nothing.
Whatever you’re going through today, know that God doesn’t judge you for being sad or discouraged. Rather than hide from Him, run to Him with your feelings and overwhelming emotions. He’s the only One who can turn your pain and despair into hope and joy.
Thriving is possible for everyone, but you have to be honest with yourself and God. Let His grace take the broken pieces of your life and turn it into a priceless treasure. If you do, you will never be the same, and that is amazing!
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has shattered gates of bronze and cut bars of iron asunder.” ~ Psalm 107:13-16
© August 13, 2014