Some Thoughts on Depression: Children, Brokenness, Humanity, and Work

I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who hasn’t wrestled with this. Except maybe a few kids. That’s telling.

If there’s anything a parent wants for their children, it’s that they be happy. But so often, the way they try to ensure happiness for their kids is to avoid every hardship. “Let not my children know poverty, except from the safe distance of a charity event.” “Let not my children be offended, or they will grow up with self-esteem issues.” Other parents are tempted to overlook their children’s imperfections, because it’s so hard to face their own. “They’ll get better. One day they’ll learn.” But if they listen with humble ears to the honesty of youth, they will hear that the children know there’s something wrong with the world, and they know there’s something wrong with themselves.

Consider this truth: A person who does not grapple and come to terms with the brokenness of this world can never be truly happy. The very simple reason why is because if he does not, then he will never be able to grapple and come to terms with the brokenness of his own soul. To do one is to do the other. The brokenness without is the brokenness within.

I was about 14 when I walked through my Grandfather’s 100 acre baby-tree-field on a cloudy day. I had come so far to a point where all that was around me was six-to-seven-foot high thorn-thickets that smelled of stale weeds as far as I could see in front of me, and the cave grove of trees I had just left left behind me. I could have turned back, but I deeply felt that the Lord specifically called me to go through the thorn thickets. All I had on were shoes, short-shorts and a tank-top. I had no cell-phone, no water and I had left my canvas poncho on the dirt-road. I faced the thickets with an internal resolution: I could make it through. Why? Because He had told me to. In my hand I had a staff that was about 4 1/2 feet high. I knew there had to be a way. So, I got an idea, and I laid my staff up against the thorns, and lifted up my sneakered foot to press down the thorns. It made a dent, with only a little stinging scratch on my leg. It took forever. In those moments of toil, we know a taste of eternity. But after about one and a half hours of repetitious picking up the staff and laying it back down, I made it through the highest thickets to the lower thickets. Still could not move very quickly. Behind me lay a trail of broken down briers made by the staff in my hand which could take the thorns. And I finally made it where the staff in my hand was able to beat down the chest high brambles, and then I made it where I could steadily walk through careful to avoid the waist-high thorn-weeds. Then, I saw the dirt road and jogged to it, and plopped down on the ground to rest staring up at the bright-grey sky above me as grateful quivers of laughter shook my teenage frame.

Depression comes when humankind refuses to acknowledge their brokenness, and neglects to cry out for deliverance, and instead surrenders to the lie that God does not care enough about my brokenness to reach out his Hands to touch and heal, therefore I don’t care either. Read the Gospels: Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and he touched and healed people. In doing so, he showed humanity the Love of God for the world (yea even the whole world) because it was beautiful in His eyes when He made it. The Kingdom of Heaven is not some elusive abstract disconnected from the world. The Kingdom of Heaven, is Eternity fixing time. It is Power strengthening weakness. It is Goodness conquering evil. It is Grace overcoming guilt. It is Truth emancipating people from lies. It is healing eradicating sickness. It is Heaven restoring the earth.

Work is magical. It is through work that a human being extricates what is good in this world and makes it into something better. This is why hard-work is part of the cure for depression. It is the image of God to work, because it is God’s eternal power at work through His representatives on earth in time. To work is to enter into the timeless blessing of humanity in Genesis 1:28: Subdue the earth. And it is hard. Why? Because we as humans have made it hard. The ground is cursed because of us. The reason why we have “hard” work, is because our sin has made it hard, but the work is ever blessed.

Why are you downcast O my soul? Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, I will praise Him. He is my Savior.

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