Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters.  (Job 3:23-24)

I return to the topic of my depression–not as an expert, but as a sufferer.  My remarks are anecdotal, but true as I understand and can convey them.

I choose the word sufferer on purpose.  Until one has been through a bout of severe clinical depression, he cannot fully understand all its ramifications.  In my case, it produces terrible physical pain; every arthritic joint hurts more than normal, and I get sharp pains in my chest, accompanied by a feeling of pressure as if a wide band were wrapped around my rib cage and being slowly tightened.  My heart, liver, stomach, lungs, etc. have checked out fine–it is the pain of depression.

My mind wants to dwell on the struggles in and around me, but I seek out ways to retreat into safe and peaceful states of mind.  Unfortunately, because of the energy it takes NOT to think about things, my brain operates at low efficiency and I find it very difficult to concentrate.  I am easily distracted and frustrated.  I cannot enjoy the things that once brought me pleasure, because my brain is in a constant battle for balance.  Did you ever try to read a book, or play golf, or talk to your grandchildren, while you were standing on one foot with a pebble in your shoe?  It can be done, but not well and not for long.

The quote above is from the 3rd chapter of Job, in which he curses his life.  After sitting in silence for 7 days, he describes his suffering in dramatic and powerful images.  He does not curse God, but neither does he praise or glorify Him.  Job is too low for that.

Then his “friends” try to “help” him.  They spend the next 34 chapters or so trying to assess the blame for his tragedies, to analyze his responses, and to accuse him of impiety.  I’m sure that they thought that they were helping him by telling him to confess, repent, and rejoice evermore.  They operated under the assumption that he had forgotten God’s love, mercy, grace, and goodness; and they believed that if they just argued him into a right state of mind that his problems would be solved.

But no amount of talking would bring back Job’s family or possessions, and no amount of talking would take the pain from his soul.  Depression is a disease that needs God’s healing touch; preaching and motivational posters are no substitute.  Job told his companions before they even started that it didn’t make any sense to hand a lamp to a lost man–all it would do is to enable him to better see the unfamiliar surroundings in which God had imprisoned him.  Their well-intentioned words merely made his misery more apparent.

So how are my friends supposed to help me?  Don’t try to fix me–just sit quietly with me, pray, and wait for God to do His healing work.  He will, and I am told that I will be better off for the suffering I have experienced.  One day, some day.

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