You raise my spirit to the sky above to fly away
To fly on eagles’ wings.
One thing I love about my church is that it is perfectly OK to arrive not having it all figured out, and it’s perfectly OK to acknowledge that you feel broken. Of course, we also rest in the knowledge that God has overcome all trials, but there is never a sense of ‘just get over it.’ My church acknowledges that Jesus did not come for the healthy, but for the sick. (Matthew 9:12) Church is not a place for people to put on a masquerade; it is a place to be honest and give thanks, in all circumstances.
God has overcome all things, He has made us more than conquerors, He wants us to live life to the fullest, and God turns the mess of depression into a message.
Depression can hit at the most inconvenient of times. Of course, there’s never a ‘convenient’ time to feel depressed. But there are times when you think, WHY? WHY NOW?
That’s how I felt on Wednesday, and, in fact, during the week. It did seem like a bad time – particularly with exams coming up. But EVERYBODY has exams and deadlines! So here’s the deal – I’ll share my experience, and as I do so, I’ll pray that God will use some of the testimony to heal YOU too. Yes? Yes.
So…prayer was beginning to feel like a chore this week. I would simply lie on my bed and listen to sermons instead. I felt too tired to pick up my Bible.
That day in particular, all I did was stare at my coursework for hours. My mind kept drifting, I felt terribly melancholic. I DID NOTHING. I ended up crawling into bed, suicidal thoughts drifting through my head. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do any work the next day either.
Fortunately, something we can do when we feel discouraged or depressed is REACH OUT FOR HELP.
There is power to be found in turning to God first. Being healed is not about pretending everything is okay, it’s about turning to God as soon as problems begin to arise. I did not do this, but I did what I thought would be the next best thing – I turned to a friend.
Waking up the morning after feeling very suicidal, I still felt weak (and was very conscious of the work I should have been doing) so messaged my best friend asking if she would pray that I would have motivation. She replied, “That’s so weird, couldn’t get your face out of my head this morning so prayed pretty much for that.” Imagine how much I smiled! It was great to know that even when I felt so weak, God was putting my face in people’s minds, and orchestrating my comfort.
Then I lay on my bed and tried to summon the energy to pray and enter God’s presence. Something that has become abundantly clear to me recently, though, is that we are CONSTANTLY in God’s presence. The Bible says God has given us His spirit to dwell in us. If His spirit is in us, then we are constantly in His presence. Singing songs or waiting to feel “spiritual” does not “bring” God to us – God IS with us.
How good is it to know that we do not have to wait for our feelings to catch up with God’s truth? If I’d relied on my feelings, and not God’s Word then – well, I don’t even want to think about it.
Feelings are transient, and not always based on truth because we are, naturally, emotional beings. God’s Word will not always align with our emotions.
Now the thought of actively using my brain to study the Bible’s words, and the thought of listening to the same worship songs tired me. Opening youtube, the heavy metal band Theocracy popped into my mind and I played their song, On Eagle’s Wings instead.
We usually associate worship with calming music, or with well known artists like Chris Tomlin, Ben Cantelon etcetera. They are great artists and there’s a time for them. But I’m a heavy metal girl – always have been. And it suddenly hit me that that was okay. God was perfectly happy to meet me where I was at (God WAS where I was at) – weak and feeling frustrated with all music that wasn’t made of intense drum rhythms and guitar riffs.
God created us. He knows our personalities, and he’s cool with the fact that we’re different from other people. Just because one person worships by singing, doesn’t mean you can’t worship with painting or dance or writing. Seriously, if you ever feel too weak to ‘worship’, you should try redefining your understanding of worship. Recognise that God gave you passions and things you enjoy to glorify Him with, whatever they are.
One lyric particularly struck me:
You raise my spirit to the sky above to fly away
To fly on eagles’ wings.
It reminded me of a sermon I’d watched that week by Joyce Meyer. She spoke of the Bible verse which states that God ‘renews our strength like the eagles.’ She said that in order to understand what the passage means, we must first understand how eagles react to circumstances. When a storm is a-coming, eagles do not find cover like other animals. Instead they brace themselves and face the storm, head on. When the storm hits, it elevates them, until they are soaring on their wings, high above the storm.
I realised that depression could actually be used to elevate me to new heights. David writes in the Psalms that he ‘lifts his eyes to the hills, for whence cometh my help?’ When we’re down in the valleys of life, we want to stay looking down in the valley. Looking up to the hills is difficult because sometimes it requires breaking many years’ worth of habitually hiding away from God when depressed. But God wants us to look to Him. To say, ‘you know what – yes, I feel bad, but YOU HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”
I used to struggle with terrible bouts of depression. I say ‘struggle’ with uncertainty because a ‘struggle’ indicates some form of effort on my behalf – but that’s incorrect. I didn’t battle it. I couldn’t. I just let depression entirely submerge me, seeing no hope. But God wants us to declare that He is the hope.
That is the difference. Old me used to think, ‘There is no hope.’
New me thinks: ‘Okay, so I feel like there’s no hope, but God – you’ve got this. And I’m just going to rest and wait upon you.’
In my experience, the latter bears positive results. The former never did.
Please do research this topic, read the Bible, watch sermons, PRAY. God wants to teach you more. This blogpost is obviously from my experience, but God wants to teach everybody through individual experience.
I’ve learnt that it’s okay to feel weak. His power is made PERFECT in weakness. Now, I still do not struggle, but I do see hope. Because God has already conquered. God doesn’t want me to battle or struggle in my own strength; He wants me to look to the hills.
That morning I also flicked open my Bible reluctantly. Again, the thought of actually having to use any amount of brainpower to find a verse, read it, study it, really didn’t interest me. Then I settled upon a note entitled DEPRESSION and just laughed to myself. (Soul Survivor’s Bible has frequent notes throughout and this one just hit the nail on the head). In it, the writer said three things:
- It’s OK to sit in God’s presence and say nothing. My friend actually said the very same thing to me. She said that in the same way we can sit with our friends and say nothing, just enjoy their company, we can do that with God too. That was an eye-opener.
- We live under grace not law. ‘Yes we need to be reading God’s Word and spending time with Him in prayer – but we live under grace, not law; relationship, not legalism. If I couldn’t pick up my Bible, God understood and He just kept me close while I…rested in His presence.’
- It’s okay to let your friends do the work. Family and friends are there to help. God has provided them. They love you.
After reading this, I turned to a book I had on my desk. Living Beyond Your Feelings by Joyce Meyer (It’s so fantastic, I highly recommend). I stopped reading it a few months back and thought, ‘Lemme read a chapter. Let’s see where I left off.’
Guess what chapter I had left off at?
‘Dealing with Depression.’
God always, always knows how we feel. There is no need to hide it from Him, and His saving grace is with us wherever we go.
I was very thankful I had those difficult days, because without them – how would I empathise effectively with people going through such things? I am also very grateful that I have a God who used the storm to bump me up, to fly over that state of mind and use the experience to glorify Him.
Depression is a terrible, terrible thing. I do not need to go into that – we all know, and even if we don’t, we should all sympathise with the gut-wrenching way it affects people. Yet somehow – only God knows how – I felt joy in the depression. That is God’s work, because honestly, ‘joy’ and ‘depression’ should be a paradox.
I knew that regardless of the source of that bout of depression – whether partly down to the pressures of a hectic lifestyle, some difficult experiences that I faced that week, my lack of exercise that week, or if my hormone levels had decided mess up for no reason – that God was in charge. Depression is mental (obviously) and real, and serious, and terrifying, and you should never avoid asking for help. But God is spiritual.
We should ask God to remind us, then, that when our brain (or body) is feeling ill, that our spirits are not. Our spirits are constantly refreshed. Our spirits are warriors. We are soaring high, with wings like eagles.
(The song is below if you’re curious and I THINK the eagle analogy was used in Joyce Meyer’s ‘Have a Dream for Your Life 2016’ sermon. It’s on youtube)