Not long ago a funeral was held at Calvary Austin for a young Christian woman who had taken her own life. Years of battling severe chronic pain ultimately led her into a deep depression. She had finally had enough. Though I’ve never considered suicide, I did understand the sorrows of that precious one who chose to end it all. I can testify first hand, pain is a real downer. It’s for this reason anti-depressants are prescribed for sufferers of chronic conditions. Nothing hurts the soul like a hurt body.
PAIN IS A REAL DOWNER
Sufferers of chronic pain are desperate for cures, seeking out one specialist after the next, sometimes to the point of bankruptcy. For a brief moment hope spreads its wings. It comes from confident medical professionals with all the right answers: pills, procedures, injections, therapy, surgery and on and on. None of it works. Disappointment sets in.
When pain becomes the normal, the battle against depression is non-stop. It’s daily, hourly and constantly. The battle doesn’t stop until the pain stops, and for some it never does. There is mourning over the “old normal” that wasn’t deprived of “normal activity” such as traveling, sitting in a restaurant booth with friends, golfing or whatever it was that pain ripped away. The easy thing to tell the suffering Christian is, “Just trust in Jesus.” Unless such counsel is offered with the compassion of Jesus, it does more to add to the pain. Now, not only does the sufferer feel physically and mentally weak, he or she feels spiritually worthless.
Though I do suffer from chronic pain, I do not suffer from chronic depression. However, I do battle depression. I’m fully aware that I am prone to sinking into a very dark place if I don’t put on the full armor of God. I further recognize my need to be on my knees everyday, because “without prayer I ain’t gotta prayer.” One reason I write these things is to encourage fellow sufferers to do the same. This writing also serves as an appeal to those who tend to be harsh toward those who suffer depression.
Obviously, physical pain isn’t the only cause of depression. A high percentage of soldiers who faithfully served in Afghanistan suffer forms of it. Many of these brave young men and women witnessed what no eye should ever see. They watched friends get killed, lost a limb or barely made it out alive. I’ve never marched in their boots. I can’t possibly understand the life of a soldier. Who am I to judge if some return with head hanging low?
As a youth, I was molested over the course of two years. Does it surprise you to learn that I sank into a deep depression afterward? I was a hopeless wreck for many years. Countless others have suffered sexual abuse; some by trusted loved ones, a father or stepfather. These experiences weigh heavy on a soul. The healing doesn’t happen overnight. Understanding is needed.
Fortunately for me, I found complete healing in Jesus. He has given me victory over the depression I once suffered. He gives me daily strength not to fall back into depression. He gives me strength to deal with daily pain. He is there to catch my tears in my moments of weakness. As for those who struggle to find the strength I’ve found, I find no profit in judging them. The best I can offer is compassion. It’s what Jesus would do.
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660