For anyone who has struggled with depression, you might know the all-pervasive feeling of melancholy. There is a weight to it, like the lead aprons radiologists will put on you before they X-ray your body. It’s a heaviness that can keep your feet rooted to the floor or your body in bed. Some days, it can feel a little bit lighter, but then it might return with a vengeance later on. It doesn’t matter if things are going well or if things are falling apart, this type of sadness is not picky. For anyone who has not struggled with unrelenting sadness, it can be hard to relate to those who do. Hopefully, this post will be an encouragement and/or correction for all people, despite their disposition towards the type of sadness that has worn out its welcome.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale asks how often the mother has felt sad or miserable in the most recent week. When I was walking through PPD, I felt so low almost all of the time. I actually just shuddered while I typed this recalling how I felt in that season. To be honest, I wallowed in that despair and gave up fighting it. I just kept crying out to God “Why?! Why do I feel this way?! Why do I feel like you have forgotten me?!” There are similar words to my lament throughout Scripture, David having written many Psalms that contain phrases like what I cried out. I’d like to look at two of those Psalms and then a passage written by the prophet Isaiah to see how Scripture addresses the feelings of extreme sadness that we can experience in life.
Psalm 13:1-2 says “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” I felt forgotten. I felt alone. I felt like I was left in the bottom of a well, no one knew where I was, and I had no way out. David knew how this felt but by the end of his psalm, he wrote about “rejoicing in [his] salvation.” How did he get from despondent to rejoicing in just 5 verses? He trusted in God’s love and remembered the ways God had delivered him in his past.
Similarly, in Psalm 34:17-18 David wrote “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” During my PPD season I remember thinking “Wait a minute. I am crying out to God. Psalm 13 is my cry. So, how could Psalm 34:17 be true? I’m not being delivered out of my trouble. What’s up with that?!” (A bit of anger had crept into my heart as I started to get impatient with the Lord). The most important thing I could do in that moment of doubting God’s goodness was to believe that Scripture is Truth, otherwise I couldn’t believe in or have hope in anything. I had to trust that God would one day help me to get out of the valley and that He would never leave my side. It was like I was walking through an underground passage without any light. I couldn’t see the Lord but He was guiding me every step of the way. It was a test in trust.
Finally, in Isaiah 53, we find a prophecy about what the Messiah would look like and what His life would be like. It is not what you might expect to read. Actually, I don’t think it’s what anyone expected! His life was marked with grief and troubles not the fanfare one would think a Savior should receive. As I’ve said in previous posts, Jesus experientially knows sadness and sorrow; He knows what it’s like to feel alone. Let’s take a look at how Jesus can relate to those who are miserable through the lens of Isaiah 53.
|Jesus’ experience of sadness||Verse|
|He was despised and rejected by men||3|
|A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief||3|
|He was despised||3|
|Smitten by God and afflicted||4|
|Wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities||5|
|He was oppressed and afflicted||7|
|He was cut off from the land of the living||8|
|He was in anguish||11|
|He poured out His soul to death||12|
If anything, this passage of scripture describes just how much Jesus went through to save my soul. He did not deserve any grief, chastisement, anguish, or sorrow. Yet, He left heaven to live a hard life marked with sadness and misery until He died on the tortuous cross. He did that for me! He did that for you as well! This is how we know that He loves us and we must trust that what He promises is true. The Lord is near to us who are brokenhearted (Psalm 34:17) because He knows what it’s like and has compassion on His precious chosen. We’re never forgotten or alone (Psalm 13:1) because Jesus promised “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20).