Jim Morrison expressed a depressed mind in the lyrics of his last song Riders on the Storm:
“Into this house we’re born, into this world we’re thrown like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan.”
The human heart seems to have its own digestive system. As our stomach passes the food, so our heart passes our human experience. Much like how we have different stomachs with different digestive abilities, so hearts process our human experience differently – never mind that we all have different experiences to begin with. I am writing this to create awareness and empathy, because what is meant to be an encouragement to say things like: “Pull yourself together, tomorrow is another day” may help a person with a more robust heart, but may actually be quite counterproductive to someone with a fragile heart.
Throughout their history some humans have been known to battle depression. In several books of the Bible we find characters exhibiting the symptoms of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, anxiety, and irritability. I find no better book than the book of Psalms to voice these emotions. In the book of Psalms we find people venting to God in a scathingly honest way (Psalm 143:7-8):
“Come quickly, Lord and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.”
King Solomon had an exceptional ability to express his depressed state of mind. Here is how he thinks – spoiler alert, it’s pretty dark (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20):
“Humans and animals come to the same end – humans die, animals die. We all breathe the same air. So there’s really no advantage in being human. None! Everything’s smoke! We all end up in the same place – we all came from dust, we all end up as dust. Nobody knows for sure that the human spirit rises to heaven or that the animal spirit sinks into the earth. So I made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do – that’s our lot. Who knows if there’s anything else to life?”
Many people wrestle with such thoughts. Everything on earth has an expiration date, our lives included. However, our dusty frame carries some precious cargo: it’s the wonderful message that God loves us. The less we look up to God, the less real His love can become to us. We can get lost in the muddiness of life that way. It’s important to turn our eyes on Jesus to remember: we are loved. Paul wrote to the Greeks in the city of Corinth (2 Corinthians 4:7):
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.”
I think our early history with God has a lot to do with our present brokenness. Our heart was made to love. We were created out of love: God created us to love us, and we were created to love Him and our human counterparts. We were not created to make war or to make money; we were created to be loved and to reflect this incredible love we’re receiving. That’s how we are originally wired. When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden major dysfunctions began to surface. We know now perhaps better than anybody that distance between Creator and created causes corruption and death.
Still, the good news is that we can have hope. Even though God may feel like a million miles away at times, He is close to the brokenhearted. He is known to be tender and merciful. Even as we age, which is death’s prelude, He renews us from the inside. And when our life is over, then we know that the best is yet to come.
Psalm 42:5: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!”