I am very fortunate to be able to say that I have only experienced one day of real depression. However, that was enough. The Lord never wastes anything, and that includes my day of depression so I want to put into words what I learned through that difficult day.
hope deferred makes the heart sick
Proverbs 13:12 NIV
This is a Proverb I never really comprehended. My son-in-law not only shared this verse with me during my depressing day but he also shared a meaning that I could understand. Jamey explained that when something a person is hoping for and waiting for continues to be out of reach, one can become discouraged to the point of not being able to emotionally handle the situation. Like a carrot dangled in front of a horse, if hope continues to be delayed it can cause a person to become discouraged. That I could understand! I was waiting for healing from physical discomfort that was taking longer than I expected or wanted. So I discovered that it was not uncommon for me to feel discouraged emotionally since I was feeling uncomfortable physically.
My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever
Psalm 73:26 NET
I was amazed to find this scripture that connected physical health and emotional health. I realized that if God correlates flesh and mind, or heart, then He knows I could struggle with both when I struggle in one of these areas. I did not like how I was feeling and acting during this emotional downtime, but it was comforting to hear that God understood how I was feeling. It is recorded in His Word that He was still with me and loved me even if I did not presently like myself. God knows we can struggle in both of these areas simultaneously and He offers a way for us to handle these times.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father
will send in My name, He will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
John 14:26 NASB
When I was feeling depressed, I knew I was not thinking rationally, but I could not help myself. I needed a helper! The Holy Spirit became my helper teaching me through two specific words. The words were “release” and “diligence.” I asked my daughter what she did when she felt like she was in a hole and could not get out. Jill’s response was to remember that it is OK to admit that something is too much. If it was too much for me to have extra people around that day, it was OK. If I couldn’t make a decision at that moment, it was OK. I felt a release from heaviness when I realized I did not have to do more than what I felt like I was capable of doing at that time. I did not have to do what I thought I needed to do. Maybe I was expecting too much of myself both physically and emotionally. It was OK that I was saying, “I can’t to this – I’m tired of this!” The Holy Spirit always gives me power for what needs to be done. If I am not able to do something, then it probably does not need to be done. The Holy Spirit released me that day by reminding me of John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Diligence may appear to be the opposite of release, but this was not the case for me. Although I could not control when I would return to full physical health, there was something I could do to promote it. There were exercises I had been given to do for restoration of strength, however I was also told only to do them to the point of feeling pain. Was I being too cautious? It was hard to tell, but I decided to be more diligent with my exercising even if it meant doing fewer exercises at a time but doing them more frequently throughout the day. In addition to being diligent with my exercise regimen, I also needed to be diligent in not overdoing. I needed to be content resting and waiting until my body was ready to return to full activity. I was reassured by a quote by A. B. Simpson, “Often there is nothing as godly as inactivity on our part, or nothing as harmful as restless working for God has promised to work His sovereign will.” My outlook and my actions could help me overcome both physical and emotional difficulties. Galatians 6:9 encouraged me by the different wordings in two translations. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (ESV) and “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (NASB)
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with patience
Romans 8:25 ESV
My hope was renewed. I cannot say that I continued to wait for full restoration of physical health patiently but I was able to dig out of the day of depression. I was able to agree with David when he said in Psalm 38:15 ESV, “For you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” I was able to keep a better perspective of the whole situation and if I started to feel overwhelmed I would remind myself of “release” and “diligence.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” So I try to fulfill this scripture. Then, Jeremiah 15:11 reminds me that “The Lord said, ‘Surely I will set you free for purposes of good…’” I think one of these good purposes is for me to be able to identity with others who may be struggling with depression and for me to encourage them at that time.
There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 23:18 NIV
This scripture allows me to smile and move forward. I began sharing about hope deferred and I close with the promise that hope will not be taken away! This does not mean I will never feel hopeful, but it does assure me that my situation is not hopeless.
So, My Reader, if you are feeling a little down today, I pray that these words from my personal experience and from scripture may help you through your struggles. Your physical and emotional feelings are valid. I understand and the Lord understands.