It was Easter Sunday and I was as empty as the tomb of Jesus. I visited politely with the people around me at church, but my soul was a dry hole.
There was no apparent reason for the shroud of darkness that had enveloped me for weeks. It began right after writing that second book. I had a vague sense of feeling lost, not knowing where to step next. Although the previous six months had been stressful, surely I had been through worse periods of strain in my life.
I kept silent about the turmoil within, sharing my feelings with God alone. However, He seemed strangely distant. Certain that He had not moved, I entertained the idea that I had somehow stepped off the track, sinned, or missed a call.
Time dragged on. Answers to prayer did not come. Scraping my soul raw and repenting of all sin did not relieve the uneasiness; Bible study classes did not inspire; sermons waxed cold; and, ministry grew dull. Nevertheless, I continued every day to write in my journal three gifts I was thankful for and to read at least one Psalm.
While writing an article on depression, I reviewed the signs – a sense of sorrow, loss of purpose, lack of interest in normal activity, changed sleep patterns, inability to concentrate and/or make decisions, a vague sense of emptiness and anxiety… The signs were all there – I had slipped into depression. Imagine that! The very person writing and speaking about hope for mental illness was now depressed.
Of course, there are those in churches who will say a Christian has no reason or right to be depressed. Yet, scripture confirms that it has been common to many throughout history:
This is written about Elijah, “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life…’” I Kings 19:4
David wrote, “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” Psalm 6:3
Paul wrote, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” Romans 9:2
Even Jesus cried out when he was on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46.
There is no way of knowing what caused my depression and I thank God it was temporary. Nonetheless, several good things came of it – now I can truly mourn with those who mourn and comfort others in ways that I have been comforted.