Finding Hope Amid Depression

“I feel angry all the time.” He hung his head. His hands pressed against his forehead.

I’d witnessed my husband’s confidence evaporate over the last few months. Day after day he heard more complaints than encouragements, and when you constantly hear negativity, you begin to believe it. I was desperate to know how I could be more supportive because I felt helpless.

Misplaced Hope

After years of powering through the exhaustion, my husband shared his struggles with the church elders. By God’s grace, they lovingly granted a leave of absence to devote his time to soul care. He saw his medical doctor, met with a counselor, and every morning during that leave of absence, he got up early and went into the backyard to seek the Lord.

It was tempting to place my hope in these good decisions. If the elders loved him enough, if the doctor gave him the correct medication, if the counselor uncovered the root issue, things would improve. These good-things threatened to steal the place reserved for God, and I had to daily remind myself that Scripture illustrates over and over that every battle belongs to the Lord (Ex 14:13-14Deut 20:4, 1 Sam 17:47, 2 Chron 20:15).

My hope for my husband and our future is in God and God alone.

My hope for my husband and our future is in God and God alone.

Hope in God

A wise friend told my husband, “We can't be doing the ministry in such a way that it ruins God’s ministry in and to us. So, changes are needed and sometimes large changes. Our calling is first to Christ, then to our wife, then to our children. Our church can always find another pastor, but our wife has one husband, our kids - one dad, and our walk with Christ cannot be sacrificed.”

Those words echoed in my soul as I walked alongside my husband. The desire to not sacrifice my walk with Christ on the altar of fear forced me to slow down, be still, and pray with boldness and confidence. I wanted my husband to persevere in this trial but that meant I also had to learn to persevere. To aid me in this endeavor, I prayed through the psalms. Psalm 6 and 86 became my go-to prayers. The words of grief resonated with my soul and echoed the weariness I witnessed on my husband’s face.

Psalm 6

In Psalm 6, the psalmist was pining away (v2), dismayed (v2), and then greatly dismayed (v3). He progresses through increasing feelings of desperation. Every night, he is weary with sighing (v6). His tears dissolve his resting place (v6). Grief is wasting him away (v7). He feels aged by his adversaries and cannot stop weeping (v6-7). The psalmist progresses through increasingly desperate feelings early in the chapter, but ends with statements of confidence in the Lord. “… For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication. The Lord receives my prayer” (Psalm 6:8b-9). The adversaries that caused much grief are now ashamed and greatly dismayed (7b, 10). The tables have turned.

The psalmist begs for mercy (v1-2, 4). He appeals to God’s undeserving love and mercy (v4b). He grieves (v6-7) and expresses great sorrow. Is God correcting him? Is this an attack from the enemy? The psalmist searches his heart before the Lord. Finally, the psalmist declares his confidence in the Lord (v8-10).

Finally, the Psalmist declares his confidence in the Lord (v8-10).

Once dismayed, he now declares his enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed because the Lord has heard his prayers.

I prayed this over my husband, inserting his name and details as appropriate.

Lord, do not rebuke __ in your anger, nor chasten him in your wrath. Be gracious, O Lord, for he is pinning away. Heal him, for his soul is greatly dismayed. How long will this last? Return, O Lord! Rescue his soul! Save him because of your lovingkindness. Let him live so he can praise your name. He is weary with crying; he is wasting away with grief. His strong adversaries feel impossible to defeat. Make them depart. Lord, you have heard his weeping. You have heard his pleas, and you receive this prayer. No matter how it looks, I will believe that you will cause his enemies to turn back and be ashamed, even the enemy of depression.

Psalm 86

I created four lists of observations on Psalm 86: the psalmist’s declarations about God, the psalmist’s thoughts about himself, the psalmist’s resolve to act, and the psalmist’s requests. Nearly every word from Psalm 86 was on one of these lists. I prayed through them for my husband beginning with God’s character and ending with our need.

Lord, you are good, forgiving, and abundant in lovingkindness. You answer our prayers. There is none like You and no works like Yours. All nations will worship and glorify You because You are great. You are __ deliverer and comforter. You are merciful, gracious, patient, and truth.

We revere, obey, and trust You. We cry out to You because we are afflicted and needy. It feels like our enemies have risen against us, but we call upon You in confidence. We will walk in Your truth, give thanks and glorify Your name.

I humbly ask that You would incline Your ear and answer __ prayer. He’s begging to be saved. He asks for your grace, for his soul to be glad, and for you to notice his need. Teach him Your ways, unite his heart to fear You, turn him to You, and grant him strength. Show him a sign for good that haters will see and be ashamed.

This was the first time that I ever asked for a sign that our enemies be ashamed. It felt strange yet freeing to follow the pattern of Scripture and pray with boldness. The psalms gave words to my grief and fears when I didn’t know what or how to pray. They helped me persevere in prayer on behalf of my family when I was emotionally depleted. They helped me hold up my husband’s arms in this battle (Ex 17:12-14). They gave me fresh hope in God.

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