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Dangling in Depression
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Dangling in Depression

 

Staring out the streaked window, the color of the trees seemed to match the color of the street. How could that be? Aren't trees green and isn't pavement black? This day though everything was gray. Feelings of hopelessness had me locked in a prison of sadness. I had never experienced misery to this degree. Sure, there have been many occasions to be depressed-one came to me with each of the many spinal operations I had endured. Being constrained by the remnants of these surgeries, a degenerative condition in my back, chronic pain, and the awful side effects of the narcotics, is depressing. Anyone would feel discouraged in this condition, wouldn't they? But this was different, and I am a Christian

. . .

Doesn't being a Christian represent the very opposite of hopelessness? Isn't the Christian life supposed to be the epitome of hope? How could I be feeling this way and how could I be obsessively thinking thoughts that could ultimately lead to the end of my life? What kind of "witness" and legacy would that leave behind?

Day after day I became more self-centered. It seemed my thoughts, let alone my prayers, didn't extend beyond the foot of my bed. I felt lethargic and slept a lot. Interest in my normal activities waned. My husband, who daily made me laugh, just wasn't funny anymore. Even the words I read in the Bible seemed to be just words. I was taking more of the pain medications I was given after my last surgery, and my mind became more and more a muddled mess. My house was as unkempt as the rest of me. How could I possibly go on any longer like this?

My beloved husband began picking up the distressing comments I was dropping. He would try to dust them off, one by one, and give them back to me wrapped in something a bit brighter. I found purpose in letting him know just how miserable I was and he found purpose in encouraging me not to give up. It was our little game and I enjoyed it. I was getting a lot of attention-from him and others who were praying for me. He even took me before the elders of our church to have me "prayed over" and they laid hands on me, praying for a physical miracle to heal my spinal disease; and a spiritual miracle that would deliver me from my morbid mindset.

Not long after, hope came. The uninvited guest proceeded from my husband's lips and wasted no time piercing my hurting heart-initially instilling even more pain. One evening my husband became frustrated with my banter about "ending it all." He turned to me and quite frankly said, "You are being selfish." He was tired of the game. He wasn't being cruel, but he felt the need to speak the truth to me, and so he did. We talked and I cried. My ego was wounded. How could that be? Hadn't I said that I didn't care at all-about anything?

"You are being selfish." Those words resonated in my heart, in my mind, and in my very soul. For days I was haunted by this string of words that followed me to sleep and dangled in front of me when I awoke. Light began to dispel the darkness and eventually they infused hope into the center of my being. You see, as a Christian, I believe that selfishness has its root in sin. That's good news because sin is curable! It's the very reason why Christ came in the first place-to save His people from sin. Not just from the eternal penalty but also from the crippling power it has in our lives. Where sin abounds, sin's cure exceeds.

So, therein hope began to uproot the hopelessness of my situation and I found joy. At the absolute core of the gospel I found the remedy for my malady. It was there waiting for me to confess my need for it. The precious blood of my Lord Jesus Christ is the readily available cure for all issues of sin. He came for this very thing. Only God can release us from the power of sin in our lives.

Because of what Christ did on the cross for me I could be free from the clutches of that ugly monster-selfishness. With confession and repentance there would indeed be deliverance. It was a cleansing and refreshing hope from the God of all hope! I began to once again see God's mercies new every morning. I wasn't blinded any longer by my selfishness. I could see the Lord in my life again, and I wanted to live that life!

The process began with getting over myself and my hurt feelings. I took personal responsibility for not having guarded my heart from my woes; I had allowed them to take up a safe haven inside my heart. And since the issues of life proceed from the heart, mine became confused and disoriented. Once I brought these emotions to their rightful spot-the throne of grace-my heart was protected from their onslaught. I could then experience truth in my inward parts, as God directs us to have. Then and there came freedom and a hope that does not disappoint.

The Bible once again became my lifeline to joy and peace. I took steps to wean off the medications and began to take care of my home again. Little by little, step-by-step, I climbed out of the pit I had dug for myself. My marriage was refreshed and I finally understood that this life is not about what I can get out of it but what I can put into it. I couldn't see that before because I chose not to see past myself! Reaching out to others through ministry involvement became essential to not only having hope-but keeping it. Important, too, I learned to trust God with my life by means of the same belief I had in Him to be able to save my soul from hell. He is able. He is with me. There is nothing too difficult for Him!

Claudette Palatsky is a freelance writer and author. Her new book, Think It Not Strange is full of hope for Christians living with chronic pain-whether from illness or emotions. She resides with her husband and their teenage son in CA.

 


This article was featured in our Sept/October 2004 issue.
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