More than they could handle

I had intended to carry on with part two of Elijah’s struggle with depression as my next post, but this letter from a friend was just too valuable not to make public. He writes from plenty of experience as a fellow servant of God and sufferer in the trenches of life.

Tiffany,

I just read the three entries of your blog (Messytheology). I like it a lot. We can relate, and still relate. Thank you for writing. Keep doing so . . .

I will only make two or three comments in agreement:

He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains.
Lamentations 3:5-7

Jeremiah was a faithful prophet of God, preaching 40+ years without a convert, called to endure horrific struggles. He was in despair for a large portion of his life (Lamentations 3, the early verses, is an example). We have even taken some of his words and made them into praise and joyful songs (“Ah, Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens. . . . “), yet if one looks at the context of that song, Jeremiah had just been told to go and spend hard-to-come-by silver on a piece of property outside Jerusalem as the armies of Babylon prepared to wipe Jerusalem off the map. And his “Ah, Lord God” was a painful, guttural cry, not a joyful song.

Even future blessings don’t erase the past.

Job. How can anyone say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle? His wife couldn’t handle it. He didn’t either. He fell down and gave up. Then God spoke to him exactly what he needed to hear. But Job lived the rest of his days with memories of the past – even future blessings don’t erase the past.

Joseph. He was in so much turmoil of soul, that even years and years later, when God had blessed him in Egypt and given him a “ministry” and family and purpose, he had two sons, and their very names indicate that Joseph had yet to overcome the grief and pain of his childhood. So every time he called their names out, he reminded himself of the pain and trouble. Then God brought right to his doorstep the source of all of that pain from years earlier – his brothers and family. Troubling to grapple with.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Lamentations 3:19

I agree with you that the English word “depression” isn’t found in most English Bibles . . .yet the words “despair” and “downcast” are. I believe that was what we call “depression.”

Robin and I both look forward to more from your blog. Press on.

Tab for the Hunters

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