Have you ever read a post on social media and seen the hashtag #thestruggleisreal? I would assume that many who read this have not only seen that hashtag but posted on social media using that hashtag. Periodically, I post on my social media accounts about the need for prayer. I get a lot of questions about what is going on when I do this. So this post is my attempt to give a personal look at my very own #thestruggleisreal.
One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Lamentations 3:22-24: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.'” A passage like this and believing what it says is what gets me through some days. So as I write this post, I want you to know from the start that this belief never wavers. I hope in the Lord! In the midst of that hope is a dark, lonely battle that I fight on occasion. Let me explain.
I remember when I was younger, and I see it first hand with my kids now, that feeling of not wanting to get out of the bed first thing in the morning. It was warm and cozy in the bed and I just didn’t want to get up. It also might have had to do with going to school. Regardless, there was an understanding that eventually I would get up and go about my day. I wanted to do that. I just needed a few more minutes in my bed.
I still experience those days. I’m sure we all do. But then there are days that are different. It’s not that I don’t want to get up right now because I’m warm and cozy; I just don’t want to get up. The thought of getting up and facing the day seems to be too much. The word that most people equate with this feeling is depression. I don’t like to use that word as much as I used to because I feel as if it gets overused. I’m not talking about just having a bad day and feeling sad.
Depression is a fight. You know that things aren’t like what your mind is telling you, but the mind is very powerful. Think of it in this way: Paul says in Romans 8:33, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” He is speaking of someone challenging your position in Christ. If you are truly saved, no one can tell you you’re not because God has declared you righteous through Jesus. Although you know that to be true, have you ever allowed people or even your own thoughts to cause you to question your position in Christ? In the same way, your mind can convince you of things and affect your whole life according to things that you know are not really true.
For instance, suicide is a horrible travesty that is experienced far too often. But when you understand what I said a moment ago, you might begin to understand how someone can get to that point. Again, as we look throughout Scripture, we see that Moses and Elijah got to a point where they wanted their life to end (Numbers 11:15; 1 Kings 19:4). Our mind is a powerful thing, and that’s why it’s important to understand and preach to yourself when you go through moments of severe depression that you will hope in God (Lamentations 3:24)!
Having described to you how I see depression, I want to also tell you that it is not based on circumstances. I am stressed out a lot. Being a husband, dad, pastor, and multi-hat wearer does that! However, times of high stress do not trigger depression. Things going “wrong” in situations do not trigger depression. And although some suffer from seasonal depression, I have not, with any regularity, had any time of year that triggers depression. I struggle randomly.
I can go to bed fine and wake up struggling. I can be sitting around laughing and having a good time with my family one moment and then the next, still in the same place with the same people, just be overwhelmed with depression. Having said how it starts, I also want to make clear about how it ends. It ends almost exactly as it came. I can’t snap out of it. I can’t think happy thoughts and just be okay. I have to fight until the fight is over. Then as quietly and as quickly as it came, it leaves.
This is why I randomly ask for prayer on social media. And when I do, just pray. That’s all I know that can be done to help. I admit it is lonely, but I don’t like to talk to people about my struggles on a deeper more personal level. I know this isn’t a good reason, but I don’t like letting people into my life in that way only to have them leave. So just pray. I’ll get through this like I always do: with God’s help!
If you have any questions and would like to ask me directly, please do. Otherwise, please continue praying for me! Thank you! #thestruggleisreal