When Darkness Settles
Pastor Ian shares five things that we should know if we suffer from depression.
It was the middle of the day, but her room was dark. Drapes closed, I could barely make out the outline of my mother lying on her bed.
“Mum…can I ask you something?”
Her response was barely audible, “I’m sorry Dear, Mummy just cannot…”
She was the best mother any little boy could have ever asked for, and yet for fifteen years (or was it all her life?) my amazing, godly mother struggled with chronic depression.
She received no comfort from her brothers and sisters, who suffered from ‘real problems’ and who were never afraid to ask me, “What in the world does your mother have to be sad about!?!” She received little comfort from doctors, who told her, “Ann, this is all in your head.”
Regardless of where it came from, it was at times a fully settled darkness that informed my mother’s reality and distorted and refracted, even gospel truths.
Living in Singapore, we have much for which to be grateful. And yet today in this nation the number one cause of death for young people aged 19-30, is suicide. The only Singaporeans who are at greater risk of taking their own lives are those who are over sixty.
This past week, an amazing young law student, full of life and promise and who had only been attending GBC for five weeks, took his own life. Those who knew him best were totally blindsided. They had no idea he was at risk.
So, if you are reading this and have felt that familiar darkness begin to settle, you should know several things:
- Know that you are not alone. These thoughts are not uncommon, even to those who believe and long to follow God. Jonathan committed suicide by falling on his own sword. In a moment of physical and emotional exhaustion, Elijah asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4). Jonah had a death wish. In Jonah 4:3, he cried out, “Therefore, now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Samson pleaded with God for the strength to take his own life (Judges 16:28-30); and even the Apostle Paul, admitted that he despaired of life and felt under the sentence of death (2 Cor 18-9).
- Know that suicide is not the 'unforgivable sin'. There is only one unforgivable sin. To reject the conviction of God’s Spirit and therefore die a stranger and alien to God, is the only sin that cannot be forgiven. Long or short, this life is given each of us to find our purpose and meaning in Him; and to love Him with all our heart, soul and might. To do otherwise is to die in rebellion to God’s design and purposes.
- Know that the darkness is deceptive. When it settles, nothing that seems pleasant to you (isolation, darkness, etc.) is what you actually need. There will be times when you will feel physically unable to bear the happiness of others. There will be times when even the thought of attending church is intolerable. On days like that, allow the church to come to you, meaning, fill your ears and heart with the truth of the Gospel. When you are feeling well, develop a collection of songs—the content of which—fills the darkness with the persistent whisper of God. For one example, take a moment to listen to this:
- Know that there are those who love you and who want to help. Call a pastor…or someone you feel you can trust. Share your burdens so that others might have the privilege of fulfilling the law of Christ (Gal 6:2). If you are uncomfortable talking with someone you know, there are multiple other resources available to you, including:
- Samaritans of Singapore—1800-221-4444
- Singapore Association of Mental Health—1800-283-7019
- Care Corner Counseling Centre—63531180
- Tinkle Friend Helpline (for children)—1800-274-4788
- Know that though there are not always answers, there is yet hope. By God’s grace, my mother eventually got better. We don’t know why. Just as we may never know why she got sick.
But even in her most difficult days, even in the midst of the dark emotional storms that overwhelmed her, she was able to hold fast to hope, which became an anchor for her soul (Hebrews 6:17-20).
- Pastor Ollie will be guiding us through Romans 5:1-8, while focusing on the theme, “Boasting in Suffering”.
- Immediately after the service, members are invited to stay behind for our Annual General Meeting, during which we will be asked to affirm the results of our financial audits.
- During our Fellowship time on Sunday you will have opportunity to sign up to be trained follow up on decisions made at the upcoming Celebration of Hope evangelistic event.
Prayer this Week—
- Let’s continue to pray for the growing number of victims of religious violence around the world.
- Let’s pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
- Let’s pray that our hearts would be well-prepared to receive God’s Word this Sunday!