God Blessed Me With the Blues

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

"Trials of many kinds." Sure, I knew about trials. Practically every one of my friends was in the middle of a gigantic long-running trial. We’re talking major trials here. Nothing in my life even came close to such trials. Yet, God didn’t forget me. He blessed me with the blues.

I considered calling it depression, but that didn’t sound as good in the title. Besides, real depression requires some duration, I think. Maybe depression with a lower-case "d" would be an appropriate term. The revelation that this depression was my trial had a major impact on me. When I began to realize that what trials do is "test your faith" and that’s what this depression was doing, I began to see it had a noble purpose in my life. (I believe testing your faith means bringing us, bottom-line, to answer the questions "Does God really love me?" and "Can I trust Him?")

I looked up depression in the dictionary and its second definition was "An area that is sunk below its surroundings, hollow." That sounded like a valley to me. So I looked up valley and discovered that its third definition was "A depression or hollow resembling or suggesting a valley." I noted in my journal, "It is my observation that depression resembles a valley. Our Good Shepherd is familiar with valleys. He even leads us through them."

As I thought more about the message of Psalm 23, the phrase "through the valley of the shadow of death" struck me. Shadow can be a Biblical term referring to something that wasn’t the real thing but resembled it enough that one would recognize the real thing when it came along. (See Colossians 2:17.) Therefore, I thought, could one interpretation of the "shadow of death" be something that wasn’t death but was enough like it that you’d feel a little bit of what death really is? Then the valley of the shadow of death would be a low place--a depression--in which you’d have an experience that looks something like death. I believe death, Biblically, refers to separation from God. So the shadow of death has a bit of that feel to it. Depression feels like we are separated from God and the love, joy and peace that we experience in His Presence.

The testing of my faith, then, comes down to this: Will I believe "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…(that) You (Jesus) are with me"? Well, if I do, perseverance will develop in me. And that’s something to rejoice about. That gives the trial of depression a noble purpose. I can even say, "God blessed me with the blues."

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