Lives of quiet desperation

There is a story from my childhood that still haunts me. A doctor in a small French village is visited by a young man who is depressed. The doctor is a very kind man and as he listens to the young man pouring his heart out he desperately wants to help him. The trouble is that while he is very experienced in physical illness he has very little experience in mental illness. Suddenly his eyes light up and leaning over the table says to the young man, “ Come to the circus with us. Poirot the Clown is the top act and he is so funny. He always makes me laugh and he is sure to brighten up your spirits”. There is a pause and then the young man says in a voice full of pain, “Monsieur Le Docteur, I am Poirot the Clown”.

The writer Henry Thoreau said that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  Many of us like Poirot can put on smiling faces to the world while behind the scenes desperately trying to hold it together. We’re like the swan who glides smoothly on the pond while frantically paddling underneath. There can be many causes of depression, but in the end it comes down to the same thing, being stuck in a black hole that we can’t get out of. I know! I’ve been there!

The bible is very open and honest about depression. The writers of the Psalms in the Old Testament frequently cried out to God in total bewilderment as they suffered rejection, fear, hostility, insomnia and physical pain. Even Jesus expressed the desire to die when faced with the cross. Nor does the bible offer easy answers. But there is a verse in the bible that has helped me in my own struggles.  God says “When you pass through the waters I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.  When you pass through the fire you will not be burned. You will not be set ablaze”. God does not promise freedom from life’s trials, but he does promise to be with us if we trust him.

On 22nd October our church will be holding our quarterly healing service. We are not promising  spectacular results, but we do believe that God will meet people in their pain and touch them. Everyone is welcome to join us.