“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
August 11, 2014. I remember the day quite well. I remember looking at my notifications seeing the news appear on the screen. The news blew up quickly. I was in shock, and quite surprised to hear the news: Robin Williams, dead at 63. It absorbed most of my time for weeks, I was all over the internet, going through research trying to find answers and understanding. I had no idea what Robin Williams was going through until after his death. I took it really hard because of many reasons. The first being he was a man with a gift of humor. Whenever I was having a bad day, I knew I could count on Williams to cheer me up through his movies and especially through Mork & Mindy.I recently watched Good Morning Vietnam right before he died for a school summer project. It was sad for me to know that I wouldn’t be able to see his joyous face on the camera anymore.
Another reason I took it hard was the cause of death: suicide. Goodness…it is hard for me to hear that someone gave up the gift of life because darkness took over. Depression. Such a difficult topic to discuss that we are afraid to bring it up. But I feel that we need to know that depression is not uncommon. I did some research for this article. According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) website, anxiety is affecting over 40 million adults in the United States. “Anxiety Disorders also affect 25.1% of children between the ages of 13 and 18,” (ADAA.org). But not everyone is getting the help they need. On average there are 123 suicide deaths per day according to AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). That is approximately 5 people committing suicide every hour. As I am writing this, I can feel my heart crumble knowing that this is happening across the country, and across the world.
Some people might not really care about these stats and will shrug it off. But there are people who want to help. Most likely, someone that you know is experiencing depression or has experienced depression.
In high school, I experienced deep depression. I struggled to focus on school work and I always had the feeling of desperately wanting to sleep in bed and never leave my bedroom. It was difficult living a normal life. There was a time that I was suicidal, but God saved me from that. I haven’t experienced depression like that since, but there are days where I still feel the darkness surfacing, trying to take over my heart again. But my relationship with the Lord is more powerful than the temptations of Satan.
Flash forward to my first year in college, I get a phone call during spring break hearing that a close family member of mine committed suicide. It has been utterly heartbreaking since then. And the worst part was that not only did I not know that he felt that way, but that I also similarly understand the pain he went through and I had no clue about it. Now that I know how he felt, I can never go back to change the past.
Those of you who struggle the battle of darkness, here is what helped me. First, I reached out to people in my life who I trusted and looked up to. A few people from my church remind me of the Lord’s unfailing love & grace every time I see them. My immediate family, especially my gracious mother, helped me get through this too. I knew I wasn’t alone and that I had an ‘army’ who was willing to pray for me and protect me. Another thing that I did was I reached out to someone that I knew that was very knowledgeable in scripture and knew what I was going through. He gave me scripture that I can use to remind me to continue to trust in the Lord and that He is working through me for a purpose.
It is hard to accept and continually believe that our suffering has a purpose. Our suffering is best described by my Dr. David Jeremiah Study Bible, “Suffering teaches believers to stay under pressuree, like squeezing an olive in a press to extract oil. This pressure results from the conflict of two truths: faith and its enduring benefits versus a fallen world under Satan’s influence”.
This person also reminded me that Jesus felt this very feeling of deep sadness too. In Matthew 26:36-46, when Jesus was in Gethsemane, he said to his disciples that his soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”(vs. 38). If you translated that in this world, it would be like saying you were so sad that you would want to die. Anyone who has felt this way could relate to Jesus at that moment in time. It is relieving to know that our own Savior felt this way too, mainly because He knows exactly what we are going through in our own hearts. David, another man in the Bible who knew what it felt like too. There are many Psalms that we could relate to. Psalms 5,6, 42,43…but my favorite of all: Psalm 13. But is what is so amazing about this psalm is that after he describes his pain, he ends with this:
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6; NIV)
Here, David admits and expresses his emotions to God and even though he struggles in his pain, he still clings to the hope that God because of how God has already worked in his life. David reminds us to continue to run to God for security.
This Psalm also reminds me how amazing and powerful our Lord is:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”
(Psalm 121; NIV)
This psalmist reminds us that our help, all of our help, comes from the Lord above. God has unspeakable and infinite powers and abilities to assist us through our own trials.
If you ever struggle with depression, go to the Lord for help. I also encourage you to talk about it with someone you know. Talking about it is helpful to let it out than to hide your thoughts and feelings inside, it tends to be overwhelming. This will be a process, but I promise the journey is worth it. Right now, I know someone I deeply love and care for is struggling with severe depression and anxiety. And it is definitely harder to watch something you’ve experienced happen to someone you love. But I know that I need to continue praying and let God work through this person. To my mentors, you have impacted me immensely and I wouldn’t be where I am without you. And to my family, thank you for always loving and supporting me.
Remember, God isn’t finished with you yet, He has still plans for you, they are just work in progress.