Jesus says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
— Matthew 11:28-30 (Msg)
I gave compelling reasons that God understands depression in the article, What Does God Say about Depression?
All throughout the Bible there are stories of biblical characters, like Moses, King David and Job, and even Elijah and Joshua, who were challenged significantly by bouts of anxiety and depression. In our modern day, a character like Charles Haddon Spurgeon—the great English preacher of the 19th Century—suffered depression in such ways that he believed there were dungeons beneath castles of despair. Even people who made people laugh, like the 19th Century clown Grimaldi, have suffered, and do suffer, depression.
God validates our depression in the midst of our troubling situations and even as we wrangle with the challenges of simply existing. Not only that, but God provides rest for each of us in Jesus’ name—if we will drink copiously of these unforced rhythms of grace.
So, we are best to reject out of hand that Christians ‘should not be depressed’.
Christians may be just as troubled by depression as anybody. And especially through situations of grief or of questioning one’s purpose of life, it is normal to feel so desperately sad that sadness does not explain our condition—the condition is a whole lot more complex than that.
Resting In the Unforced Rhythms of Grace
Jesus and typical concepts (the world’s understanding) of religion are poles apart.
What couldn’t be more opposite is actually the case. The religion the world understands is binding. Jesus is freeing to such a point that the only thing binding is to simply understand that all our choices have consequences—life is about choice. And with the situations we’re faced with, those that seem to have no choice, we can know, Jesus is our rest.
When we have no other rest—and even when we do—Jesus is our rest.
The unforced rhythms of grace are the greatest secret within the commonest tradition humanity knows: religion. We can only tap into these unforced rhythms of grace when we truly give ourselves to God. We may wish to read and re-read Matthew 11:28-30.
That’s the thing we need to know about depression. Not only does God understand, but God has shown us a divine way of coping: to immerse ourselves in Jesus.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.