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Home > 2013 > January Web Exclusives > Befriending the Darkness

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In some respects the depression has eased—I am rarely rendered completely numb and incapable. I rarely now descend to uncontrollable weeping (though it still can happen). But in other respects it is worse; it is more continuous. There used to be periods when I felt entirely "normal," but now, even in the best of times, the darkness is a lingering presence on the margins of my mind, never wholly absent, always threatening. Is this darkness truly unending? Will it endure forever?

In Psalm 22 the psalmist cries out: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But he also confesses God's faithfulness while knowing no relief from his distress, no light in the darkness, no break in the silence. Christ's cry of dereliction on the cross echoes the psalmist's cry, but we know that his cry was not the last word, nor the end of the story. Our cries can similarly echo the psalmist's cry, and when we struggle to express our anguish, we can make his words our own. But we cannot pray his prayer without coming to his confession, without knowing that, as an outcome of Jesus' unique suffering, our suffering and distress is not the last word. We do not suffer alone and our suffering cannot possibly be final or ultimate.

The Son of Man has suffered, and nothing, not even our despairing desolation, can ever be quite the same again.

Excerpted from Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Cascade, 2012)

John E. Colwell is Minister of Budleigh Salterton Baptist Church, Devon and Honorary Research Fellow at Spurgeon's College, London.

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Related Topics:DiscouragementEnduranceSoulWeakness
Posted: January 21, 2013

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January 23, 2013  6:02am

'our suffering and distress is not the final word.' Thank You, God.

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Melody Harrison Hanson

January 22, 2013  2:44pm

Thank you. As a fellow sufferer, I thank you for this reflection and for the hope I find there. Even tho, "the darkness is a lingering presence on the margins of my mind, never wholly absent, always threatening. Is this darkness truly unending? Will it endure forever?" It's been ten years for me, off and on, but going off medication helped me to cry again.

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January 22, 2013  2:02pm

And yet, there are other medications besides lithium, probably many new ones since the author first was diagnosed. I have struggled with depression for many years, and have partial relief with medication. Without medication, I would be overwhelmed with unbearable pain. It isn't always a choice between medication and fullness of life - sometimes medication just gives a stronger base that allows a person back into life. It can be like insulin to a diabetic - supplying something that the body lacks.

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Marshall Shelley

January 22, 2013  8:54am

Thank you for a story that isn't comfortable to read, but one that brings us to the ineffable. Well done, John. Well done.

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Michael K. De Rosa

January 22, 2013  5:18am

Thank you for your candidness. I think one too many people would jump at taking a pill while not understanding the side effects. Your opting out of lithium speaks volumes. Too, I never really considered a worship with the songs of lament as you describe, but it really does give me something to think about. Blessings on your ministry! -Michael

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