When the Darkness Still Won't Lift
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
I'm at the end of a rope that was never attached to anything. It feels like a scene from a Saturday Morning Looney Tunes special. Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff, realizes he's falling and starts climbing back up a rope that is falling down the same cliff he is. He's desperately climbing this rope, but ultimately it's going down the same canyon he is falling into.
That's how I've felt since November. That's three months as I write this. I've been spiraling into a depression and hopelessness that I haven't felt in ages. I thought being more engaged would do it. I felt like being home with my family would help. I have prayed more than I have in years. Read my Bible diligently and sought wise counsel.
But it's all just ropes and cliffs. I'm still falling in that canyon.
Mental health happens to be one of the most commonly associated words with the Bible. People believe that God can help them fight the darkness that lives within them, and I still firmly believe that is true. But it's not as simple as doing "this," and God will fix the issues. There is no "this" to do because even the right things may not lead you out of the valley.
John Piper is an author, pastor, and pretty intelligent guy. He wrote a famous book called "When I don't desire God," that's all about how God wants us to be happy, but there are things that get in the way. He specifically has a chapter called "when the darkness does not lift" about mental health and the reality that Christians may need something more than a daily bible reading plan.
There are several significant points from that book that I highly recommend, but I think it ultimately gets summed up in this:
"It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him." -John Piper
Even when we are too weak to make progress towards a biblical joy, it is imperative that we don't wander from the theological truth that God is good, we are loved, and this is momentary.
I don't have the solution to your issues with mental health. Honestly, I don't even have anything that's helping my problems right now. But I know God is good. So instead, I'm going to share some parts of the Psalms. The Psalms are the only place in the Bible that is entirely our side of the conversations with God. God doesn't interject and tell them they ought to feel a certain way or that it's their fault. The Psalmists speak what they are feeling and base it on biblical truth. They've resonated with me and helped me not feel like the only Christian who feels this way.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 34: 17-18
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.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
He restores my soul... I'm not sure when that will happen, but I know it will happen because God said it would. So that is the truth I rest on until it physically becomes true.