Susan Kline, my favorite devotional writer, speaks to all of us in today’s Fresh Start. A dear Alaska friend is walking through the valley of despair. Hang in there, Angie. Though we’re far apart, but I have your back in prayer. Love you.
Susan wrote (slightly adjusted for space): I believe every human being on the face of this earth experiences despair or depression at some point in his/her life. Even Jesus. God created us with multi-faceted emotions that we are going to experience when triggered. He permits us to walk through trials and difficulties that often reap despair. Sometimes our body chemistry can go sort of haywire, bringing about feelings of depression without external triggers.
So, what should our response be when we see a friend walking through a dark time of despair? While there is no one perfect response, Charles Spurgeon (prolific author and preacher in the late 1800’s), who went through his own dark times of despair, offers helpful words:
“I know that wise brethren say, ‘You should not give way to feelings of depression.’ … If those who blame quite so furiously could once know what depression is, they would think it cruel to scatter blame where comfort is needed. There are experiences of the children of God which are full of spiritual darkness; and I am almost persuaded that those of God’s servants who have been most highly favored have, nevertheless, suffered more times of darkness than others. No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression. I would, therefore, try to cheer any brother who is sad, for his sadness is not necessarily blameworthy.”
Depression hurts. It is real emotional pain. When someone we know is in pain, we offer comfort, even where sin is a component. There are things we definitely don’t do. We don’t place blame or play the Holy Spirit; we don’t try to cover over the emotion; we don’t avoid. We speak encouraging words, give a hug, hold a hand, listen, and pray; we make ourselves available.
It can be messy, hard, and awkward, but it is oh-so-necessary. And it is commanded by our Heavenly Father: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God (Isaiah 40:1 NIV).
Thanks, Susan. You bless me.
Old Grandpa Lloyd