I often fall into the trap of thinking that my depression is my final destination. I believe the lies that depression is something I will have to suffer through for the rest of my life, and that my mental health situation will never improve. All I focus on is the pain I feel now, and I can’t see beyond that pain. All I want is for this storm to subside. However, there is a big picture perspective that is helping me move forward.
The central passage for the sermon at my church this morning was Acts 27. In this passage, the Apostle Paul is sailing for Rome when a hurricane-type storm overtakes his ship. After days of seemingly hopeless drifting, the story ends with a shipwreck, yet all passengers survive (verse 24), and Paul goes on to have one of the most fruitful ministry periods of his life on Malta (Acts 28). So, what does this have to do with depression?
The Hopeless Storm
Verse 11: “5 The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale.” This is what severe depression feels like. It is overwhelming, and none of my own attempts to evade or escape it seem to work. Eventually, I find I must move with the storm.
Verse 20: “The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.” In the middle of a depressive episode, I lose my bearings. I can’t see the way out. My hope wavers.
The Good Beyond
Verses 30-32: “Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship; they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers, ‘You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard.’ So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away.”
God has allowed this mental disorder into my life. Would I choose to go through it? No. Of course I would rather make the storm stop now on my terms. I would rather take the lifeboat and find a way out of this storm for my own sake. However, I cannot deny how God has and is using this storm to mature me, and how He is using my “stormy experiences” to help others undergoing hardships. I choose then to move with the storm, and to trust God and His agenda – He can see far beyond my limited view. He sees the good and the fruit that will result from my season of depression.
The Storm Will End
Verses 33-34: “Just as day was dawning, Paul urged everyone to eat. ‘You have been so worried that you haven’t touched food for two weeks,’ he said. ‘Please eat something now for your own good. For not a hair of your heads will perish.'” This is a reminder to take care of myself, and to not give up hope. I am not able to pull myself out of this storm, but God can and is rescuing me. The daylight is coming and the storm will end.
Stay in hope, and trust in the higher purposes of God. He sees you, He knows your suffering, and He will take care of you through whatever storm you are facing.