Melancholy, my friend

I don't think I will or should ever like it, but I'm learning to be thankful for my depressions. It is for me as C.S. Lewis so famously put it in The Problem of Pain,  "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
When I look back I see many times during my years as a Christian when a deep depression has led to a renewal of faith in my heart. Jesus Christ is the source of whatever peace and joy I am capable of, so when I drift away from Him these begin to slip away, along with my hope for the future.  I slip into despair.  The pain grows louder. Eventually none of my usual distractions can drown it out, and in desperation I remember Christ and cry to Him for rescue.

Through my sorrow He gently guides me back to His word and His promises, and through them (along with much prayer) renews my faith and restores my hope in His goodness and my future with Him. I'm so thankful to Him that He won't let me wander happily away.  I'm learning and praying to be sensitive to the first wispy dark clouds, to recognize that trouble is brewing, and instead of looking for various ways to take the edge off the pain to run quickly to Him for solace.  He is the only help that is genuine, the only help that gets to the heart of the problem, the only comfort that is strong enough, and the only hope that is eternal.

Before I was afflicted I went astray,
   but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
    teach me your statutes.

It is good for me that I was afflicted,
   that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
   than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Psalm 119: 67-68,71-72

I never thought, or really ever wanted, to echo David's words, "It is good for me that I was afflicted."  But today those were the very words I found pouring out of my heart.  I'm thankful that God uses my afflictions for my good and that, in Christ, even melancholy has purpose.  My new hope and prayer is that I will learn once and for all to keep clinging to Him even when I begin to feel better, to remember I'm still in desperate need even when I feel just fine, to never stop looking to Him as my source of life, joy, peace, hope, purpose, and blessing.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
    whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
   that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
   for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
   for it does not cease to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17:7-8


I recognise this pattern or circular spiritual path in my life too. Melancholia was once a valued part of Faith, a whole cult of it developed in Elizabethan times up until Robert Burton's 'Anatomy of Melancholy' (1623) and Browne too confessing of suffering from such blues.
cathysmith07 said…
Ohh.. I feel the sincerity in it, very beautiful. Hope to See more post on you I'll be glad if you do.
Anonymous said…
I agree with you, Laurie,though I would never want to go through those years of severe affliction again, I am thankful for them. I call anxiety "my tether to my Lord" because every time the enemy of my soul tried to batter me about with it, I only wrapped myself around my Savior with even greater intensity.

It made me a disciple of Jesus instead of a double-minded person looking to every wind of false doctrine and wave of a magic wand in hopes to make all the suffering go away quick. It made me compassionate towards others who suffer, and gave me comfort that can give hope to others. This weakness became my greatest strength in my need to constantly depend on Jesus.

Joni Eareckson Tada too, wouldn't trade her wheelchair for some temporary health and peace, because the wheelchair was the means God used to change her, as she shares in her book, "A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Pain, Suffering and God's Sovereignty" She says, "So here I sit, glad that I have not been healed on the outside, but glad that I have been healed on the inside, freed from my own self-centered wants and wishes."

That is a hard thing to say or even to understand, but our God moves in a mysterious way doesn't He?

"The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain."

I love that Cowper, who wrote that timeless hymn, was hospitalized several times for severe depression, and though he never really had a happily ever after healing -- it was his faith in spite of terrible circumstances gives saints for all times courage for perseverance and strange comfort too.

A belated Happy Thanksgiving, dear Laurie!

Laurie M. said…
Thanks all,
And Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you as well Karen. You, as you may have guessed, crossed my mind as I wrote this.

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