The black dog. Depression. Despair. Melancholy. Despondency. Down. Moodiness.
Does any of that ring familiar to you? Do you, like me, allow some of your thoughts to run free and unchecked? Does the narrative in your head tell you to give up, that it is hopeless? The mind can really be a tangled mess of thoughts, experiences, assumptions and behaviors. I’ve struggled with this kind of thing for several years, so before going to the medical community to address anything chemically off in my body, I sought pastoral counseling to see what the Gospel had to say.
It turns out a lot.
The details of what led me to this point aren’t relevant for this blog, but some of the counsel I received is. The Bible was written for more than just me individually. My pastor walked me through Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8. I’m not able to articulate this as skillfully as he did, but after capturing my reflections and applications of those chapters in Romans in my journal, I felt part of that reflection would be valuable to share here. If you are reading this and feel lost, I suggest reading those four chapters just mentioned to help fill out some of the gaps you may feel in my thoughts, as I am responding to those chapters.
I am either dead under the law or alive in Christ. To the law, I am weak to fulfill it. I am weak to even do the good things I desire to do. The law is good. I agree with it, yet can’t fulfill it.
Ah! There is Christ!
My condemnation under the law has been poured on Christ, and none is left for me. I am now alive. Yet I am still weak, and look for identity in strength. Poor me, wretched me, hopeless me… FULL of weakness. It is in this gap that I find Christ to be strong. I am so weak that many times I cannot even find words to pray, but the Spirit intercedes on my behalf to the Father, as I am whole in Christ. I am God’s adopted son, even as I am weak.
God works all things together for my good. All things includes my weakness, struggle, failure, depression, apathy, pride, arrogance, anger, vain pursuits and thoughts. The Father is mine, and in/by the Spirit, I am being transformed more into Christlikeness day by day. Consider who you were 10-15 years ago? I am being made new, more like Christ, but so slowly I can scarcely perceive it. Many times I feel the weakness so fully and tell myself that hope is lost. I become my own judge and forget Christ.
(This next bold/bracketed section is the breaking down of Romans 8:34)
Who is the one who condemns?
Jesus Christ is the one who died,
(when it should have been me!!)
but even more, has been raised,
(proving His standing in my place and taking all of my condemnation was efficient to reconcile me to the Father!!)
He is also at the right hand of God
(not condemned Himself, sin has been defeated, death is no more, and Jesus reigns in life!!)
and intercedes for us.
(He is my mediator between God and I, and if Jesus is my advocate when He is the only one to condemn, condemnation left me as Christ left the grave clothes in an empty tomb!!)
and now I say… I AM FREE! I AM FREE!
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)