Depression: What to Say & What Not to Say

When someone is experiencing their own Desperate Days and going through grief and suffering, here are some things to say and do and things not to say and do. This is an excerpt from the message “Good & Bad Counsel.”

1. Don’t be a fixer. It’s been said that suffering attracts fixers the way road kill attracts vultures. If you have that “fixer” tendency, harness it before you spend time with someone who is going through grief. Assuming that you want things to fix things for the right reason (and that’s a big assumption), there are times that you won’t be able to fix what’s broken in someone’s life. Think about it this way, especially guys. When your wife is going through something and they share it with us, what do we guys tend to do? Shift into “fixer” mode. And what do they say, “I don’t want you to fix it. I just want you to listen to me!” Don’t be a fixer.

2. Your presence & tears often say more than your words. Pastor Charles Swindoll once told a story about a little girl whose friend died. One day she told to her family that she’d gone to comfort the grieving mother. Her dad asked, “What did you say?” The little girl replied, “Nothing. I just climbed up on her lap and cried with her.” Your presence and tears often say more than your words. As a pastor, I’ve been around my fair share of grief and suffering… families making the hard decision to take a loved one off life-support… people experiencing depression so deep they can’t even get out of bed… a spouse who just found out that their husband or wife had an affair and is leaving them. There will be time later for words. But in that moment of grief and suffering , your presence and tears say more to than your words.

3. Don’t be turned off by distasteful sights. When we journey into somebody’s pain, sometimes we experience some distasteful things. Sometimes we go to the hospital, and we get that queasy feeling. On the way to our friend’s room, we look through the doorways of people plugged into all kinds of machines. And we get to our friend’s room, and it’s not any better. Or we go visit a friend who’s going through some deep depression. We walk into their home. Curtains are closed, dirty dishes are piled up in the sink, and the house is a wreck. Even if you find yourself overwhelmed by all of this, pray to Jesus that your face won’t show it. There are times when I feel that unease come, and I pray for strength in that moment to be fully present and not distracted by distasteful sights.

4. Understand the Cycle of Grief. Grief needs to run its course, even in the lives of people who deeply know and love Jesus. The Swiss psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed the cycle of grief model. People who are suffering or grieving are usually in one of these stages. And they move through the cycle at different paces than others. Here are the stages the cycle of grief:

Denial. This occurs when the tragedy first hits. There’s shock and denial of the reality of the experience. “This isn’t happening to me.”

Anger. Frustration at God or other people sets in. This is when some uncomfortable things come out of the mouths of grief-stricken people.

Bargaining. People start bargaining with God. “God if you’ll fix this, heal this person, take away this pain, I’ll do this or I’ll never do this again… I’ll be this kind of person…” We bargain.

Depression. The weight of it all finally settles and depression sets in. Sometimes the depression comes across like utter apathy. But it’s really the person simply being exhausted by the grief and suffering.

Acceptance. This isn’t simply resignation to the reality. It’s a “I know I’ll always live with this pain, but I’m ready to move forward.”

Don’t play junior psychologist with them and tell them what part of the cycle they’re in. “Oh, you’re in the anger phase right now… bargaining will come next.” That’s a sure way to get punched in the nose. But when your friend or family member is going through grief, discern what stage they’re in and temper what you say (or choose not to say) in response to where they’re at in the cycle of grief.

5. Don’t pretend you know it all even if you think you do. Please note the intended sarcasm. The last thing a person who’s going through suffering and pain needs is someone who thinks they know all the answers to all the tough questions. Job’s friends had pat answers to every question and a fixed formula for solving every problem. There are some reasons and purposes for suffering in our lives that will only be understood on the other side of eternity. Be careful about believing that you can understand what those reasons are on this side of eternity. Don’t pretend to know it all even if you think you do.

Here are some recommended resources for grief.

What would you recommend saying or not saying when someone is going through grief and depression?

Jesus is Not My Crutch

This is a guest post by my friend Marcia Gladwish who is battling stage 4 breast cancer. This is her artwork as well!

After two and one half months of chemo, one hopes to have progressed further, and I was disheartened by the news and began to cry a little with the doctor. “Why are you crying?” he asked softly. “I’m frustrated the tumor is essentially the same size.” (I look over at Alice, and she is trying not to cry. Well, OK, she is crying a bit.) My doctor is hopeful the tumor will be much more impacted by the pill, and he tries to convey this to me without promising anything.

I have nowhere to go but into the arms of Jesus – a place, really, I have been all along as His follower. It’s time to more completely settle in with Him in an even deeper way, a way I scarcely understand. I know I need to be more at home with Him than earth. I’m learning what that looks like.

Before my skeptical friends, who don’t quite buy this whole Jesus thing, say, “Aw, you poor thing, you need a crutch right now,” let me tell you as lovingly as I can, Jesus is not my crutch, my drug of choice, my cop out, my sedative, my new-age lavender dreamscape. He is just not.

Jesus really exists, and He is big and strong; He is really massive, and He proved that by dying on a lousy cross for each of us, so our darkness of heart and separation from God our Father, can be taken care of forever. So, don’t ever diminish Jesus as some lamb leading metro-guy who is without courage, enormous manly strength and pants. Plus, I want you to know that I know, He IS boundless love and compassion. He has shown me this over and over throughout my life. I am in those loving arms. I invite you there as well. Come to Jesus, the lover of your soul.

Hold Onto the WHO

This past Sunday in our Desperate Days series, the big idea of my message was “Don’t hold onto the why… hold onto the WHO!” At the end of the day, God did not answer Job’s “why” questions. In the book of Job, God never let Job into His conversation with Satan, as He was proving that Job would hold onto to his faith whether he lost everything or not. God did not give Job the answer to why he was suffering, why his children died, why his possessions were taken, and why his health fell apart. When God did finally break the silence, all He did was point Job to the WHO… the God who created and sustains the physical universe… the God who can and will administer perfect justice. God called Job to look outside of himself and his circumstances. And He calls us to the same.

I recently had a conversation with a guy who told me that he didn’t struggle with the existence of God. But in a moment of honesty, he said he struggled with why following Jesus had to be so hard. I often feel the same way. I know that Jesus tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). But some days it just doesn’t feel like it. And on those days, we choose to hold onto the WHO. On those days, we choose to hold on the WHO who came down to this earth and struggled with and for us on the cross. On those days, we choose to remember that we can’t run the physical universe nor administer perfect justice, but there is One who can. On those days, we choose to hold onto the One who makes beautiful things out of the dust and out of us.

Before you go, take a moment and listen to Gungor’s “Beautiful Things”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyPBtExE4W0[/youtube]

May you hold onto the WHO!

3 Questions to Ask in the Silence of God

An excerpt from “The Silence of God” message in our Desperate Days (the Book of Job) series

How do we respond when God seems silent? There is something frustratingly mysterious about the silence of God. I don’t have any easy answers for you. I don’t have a plug and play formula… do this or that and God will show up. But I do have 3 Questions to Ask in the Silence of God. They won’t erase the tension and frustration, but they may help guide you through the fog.

1. Is my suffering caused by my sin? While Job’s suffering was not caused by his sin, and while not all of our suffering is caused by our sin, there are times when our suffering is a result of our sinful choices. God designed life to be lived within His life-giving and life-sustaining boundaries, and when we choose to live outside of those boundaries, consequences, discipline, and suffering results. The Apostle Paul instructs us, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). When we choose to sin and rebel against God, we quench the voice of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. At times, God allows the consequences to come to bear. And it seems as though He’s silent. He’s actually giving us what we wanted… life without His “interference.”

When I was a senior in college, I was arrested for a DUI. After spending the night in jail, I spent the next year cleaning up the mess I created. And there were times, even when I prayed to God that He would resolve things, I sensed His silence. I wholeheartedly believe God is a God of love, grace, and forgiveness, but I also believe He lets the consequences play out. At times, it feels like the “time out” we give our kids. They want to do their own thing. So we put them in their room for a time. We don’t stop loving them, but they do experience our silence. Honestly evaluate whether your suffering caused by your sin?

2. Am I over-dependent on the experience more than the relationship? You’ve likely heard the term “dark night of the soul.” St. John of the Cross wrote about God allowing us to experience the silence (and what feels like His absence) to see whether we’re longing more for the experience of being in relationship with Him more than we’re actually longing for Him. Will we still love God, worship Him, and live by faith when we’re not experiencing the warm fuzzy… when the experience and the passion is lacking… when we feel like we’re in the desert? Let’s be honest. At times we want the water more than the Fountain… the warmth more than the Flame… the green pastures more than the Shepherd. We want the blessing more than the Blesser. Suffering and the silence of God reveal our motives and desires.

3. Will I choose faith? Job spoke this affirmation of his faith in God in the middle of the toughest crisis of his life (Job 19:25-27):

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed,
Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job says, “As for me, I know my Redeemer lives… even when my heart faints within me. Even in the confusion, the crisis, and even in my complaints that God seems silent and absent, I choose faith. I choose to believe when there’s no logical reason to believe any more.” That’s faith… a faith that hangs in there at any cost. It’s been said, “Job’s faith cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.” At the end of the day, when you feel the silence of God, when your personal perspective and pain tell you that God is absent and disinterested, will you choose faith? Will you trust His promises that He will never leave nor forsake you… that He will cause all things (yes even His silence) to work together for your good and for the good of those around you? Will you choose faith?

I’ll close with a quote from Philip Yancey’s Disappointment with God:

You could read Job’s story, puzzle over The Wager, then breathe a deep sigh of relief: Phew! God settled that problem. After proving His point so decisively, surely He will return to his preferred style of communicating clearly with His followers. You could think so—unless, that is, you read the rest of the Bible. I hesitate to say this, because it is a hard truth and one I do not want to acknowledge, but Job stands as merely the most extreme example of what appears to be a universal law offaith. The kind of faith God values seems to develop best when everything fuzzes over, when God stays silent, when the fog rolls in.

Resources for Grief

On Sunday, January 22 as we continued in our Desperate Days series, we discussed “Good & Bad Counsel.” I hope and pray that it was helpful in giving you ideas on what to say and what not to say when a friend or family member is going through grief and suffering. Here are some resources that I’ve used over the years for understanding the experience and process of grief:

1. Experiencing Grief – H. Norman Wright. Written to encourage anybody who’s recently endured a loss, this brief, powerful book leads readers through five essential stages: shock, rage, despair, release, and finally peace.

2. Shattered Dreams – Larry Crabb. If God loves me, why is life so painful? Exploring the biblical account of Naomi, Crabb explains how God longs to awaken his children to the dream beneath the rubble of tragedy–changing lives for good and forever. Encounter your closest Friend in the midst of difficulty and learn to live beyond life’s deepest pain.

3. A Grace Disguised – Jerry Sittser. In one terrible instant, a drunk-driving accident claimed three generations of Sittser’s family—his mother, wife, and daughter—while he and his remaining children were left to survive together. In this powerfully moving testimony, he offers hope to fellow Christians who have suffered loss through illness, divorce, or death.

4. Disappointment with God – Philip Yancey. Yancey deals with some of life’s toughest questions in the midst of faith and suffering. Is God unfair? Is God silent? Is God hidden? If God desires our love, why does he sometimes put obstacles in the way? Why does he seem so distant? What can we expect from him after all? No part of the Bible goes unstudied in the authors search for God’s hidden nature in this compelling and profound book.

5. When the Darkness Will Not Lift – John Piper. Even the most faithful, focused Christians can encounter periods of depression and spiritual darkness when joy seems to stay just out of reach. It can happen because of sin, satanic assault, distressing circumstances, or hereditary and other physical causes. In When the Darkness Will Not Lift, John Piper aims to give some comfort and guidance to those experiencing spiritual darkness.

If you need some personal help with depression, grief, or suffering or would like to refer someone, please contact Lupe Maple, Director of Northshore’s LIGHT Ministry.

Desperation & Depression

With Sunday’s snowstorm, I wanted to post the message manuscript and audio from the message “Desperation & Depression.” It was an important message for those who struggle with depression or for those who have friends or family who struggle with depression.

Here’s the AUDIO from the message.

1 Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2And Job said,

3 “Let the day perish on which I was to be born,
And the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’
4 “May that day be darkness;
Let not God above care for it,
Nor light shine on it.
5 “Let darkness and black gloom claim it;
Let a cloud settle on it;
Let the blackness of the day terrify it.
6As for that night, let darkness seize it;
Let it not rejoice among the days of the year;
Let it not come into the number of the months.
7 “Behold, let that night be barren;
Let no joyful shout enter it.
8 “Let those curse it who curse the day,
Who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.
9 “Let the stars of its twilight be darkened;
Let it wait for light but have none,
And let it not see the breaking dawn;
10 Because it did not shut the opening of my mother’s womb,
Or hide trouble from my eyes.

11 “Why did I not die at birth,
Come forth from the womb and expire?
12 “Why did the knees receive me,
And why the breasts, that I should suck?
13 “For now I would have lain down and been quiet;
I would have slept then, I would have been at rest,
14 With kings and with counselors of the earth,
Who rebuilt ruins for themselves;
15 Or with princes who had gold,
Who were filling their houses with silver.
16 “Or like a miscarriage which is discarded, I would not be,
As infants that never saw light.
17 “There the wicked cease from raging,
And there the weary are at rest.
18 “The prisoners are at ease together;
They do not hear the voice of the taskmaster.
19 “The small and the great are there,
And the slave is free from his master.

20 “Why is light given to him who suffers,
And life to the bitter of soul,
21 Who long for death, but there is none,
And dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 Who rejoice greatly,
And exult when they find the grave?
23Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
And whom God has hedged in?
24 “For my groaning comes at the sight of my food,
And my cries pour out like water.
25 “For what I fear comes upon me,
And what I dread befalls me.
26 “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet,
And I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.”

How bad does life have to get where you feel something like that? Some of you have actually experienced this kind of desperation and depression… a kind of desperation and depression where you don’t even have the will to keep on living. Charles Spurgeon, the famous British 19th century pastor, often referred to as the “Prince of Preachers,” was prone to seasons of deep depression even amidst enormous success in ministry. He once said, “I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.” Every one of us is susceptible to some level of depression. Every one of us has the possibility of experiencing those grey days where things don’t go right and it affects how we see life. On the other extreme some of us experience the pitch-black dark night of the soul, and we rue the day we were born. Most of us have experienced or will experience something in between. Or we have friends or family members who have experienced or are experiencing depression.

What do you do when your desperation turns into depression?

This is the question I want to wrestle through today. Last week, we began a 7-week series called Desperate Days. We’re exploring the ancient book of Job… pressing into some of the most intense questions in life about tragedy, suffering, depression… and where God is in the midst of it all. Last week we were introduced to the biblical character Job and talked about how we respond when tragedy strikes. Job experiences catastrophe after catastrophe. He loses everything. He loses his ten children as they’re killed in a freak storm. He loses his possession. He loses his health. Last week we left him covered in boils, sitting in the city dump, waiting to die, surrounded by his three friends who came to comfort him but could do nothing but sit and weep in silence for seven days and seven nights. And then finally… Job opens his mouth and speaks… and his desperation has turned into a deep depression.

Job’s Wishes

As we explore Job 3, we see that Job has three wishes as his desperation turns into deep depression.

1. Job wishes he’d never been conceived (vv. 1-10). Job is in such mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that he curses the day he was conceived. Notice that Job never curses God. He’s beginning to question God. As we get further into the book, he’ll even challenge God. But he never renounces or curses God. But He does curse the day he was conceived. As the story shifts from narrative to poetry, the images Job paints in his pain are dark. Over and over, he talks about the day of his conception as a dark day… black gloom… dark clouds. He wishes the day didn’t even exist because then he would never had to endure what he’s going through in his life. A quick explanation of v. 8 – the “leviathan.” Job’s talking about a mythological, seven-headed sea monster that when awoken would swallow the sun and the moon. He doesn’t necessarily believe in this mythological creature, but he’s communicating in the language of his day to explain the darkness and turmoil he’s feeling right now.

2. Job wishes he’d never been born (vv. 11-19). In v. 11, the “why” questions begin. Job asks, “Why didn’t I die at birth? Why did the knees receive me?” He’s talking about sitting on his mother’s lap while he was feeding or possibly sitting on his father’s knee as he received his father’s blessing. If he would have died when he was born, he’d be experiencing “quiet and rest.” He’d be in the grave, like great kings who built these extravagant graves that have now become ruins. Job states that death is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter if you’re great or small, king or slave, rich or poor. One aside from these verses… Job and the rest of the Old Testament don’t have a developed view of the afterlife. Death was simply death… an end to life. There are glimpses of the afterlife is some Old Testament writings, but we don’t get a fully developed view of heaven and hell until we get into the New Testament of the Bible. So from Job’s limited perspective, death is a release from the pain and suffering of life.

3. Job wishes he’d die now (vv. 20-26). Job’s last wish is that he could die right now. More “why” questions surface. In v. 20, “Why is light (i.e., life) given to him who suffers?” He’s asking why God sustains someone’s life if they’re going through this intense suffering. In great pain, people look for death or for a way out, but it doesn’t come. I’ll talk about this more in-depth in a moment, but notice that Job doesn’t consider suicide. He simply wishes he’d never been conceived or born… or that God would allow him to die right now. In v. 23, God feels like he’s lost his way… he feels like God has “hedged” him in. Back in Job 1:10, Satan accuses God of putting up a “hedge” of protection around Job. And now Job feels like God has boxed him in and backed him into a corner of extreme suffering… and he can’t escape. In v. 24, we see that he’s lost his appetite and when someone tries to bring him food, he wails loudly. His worst fears have come true. His nightmares have become a reality. He’s lost everything dear to him. He doesn’t feel at ease or safe and secure. He’s not experiencing that longed for rest. He’s in turmoil, an agitated state (lit., “a rumbling of thunder”) that comes from a complete lack of peace. And he wishes he’d die right now so he doesn’t have to endure it any more. His desperation has turned into a deep depression. He’s in a dark place right now, and doesn’t seem to be getting better anytime soon.

That’s what Job’s going through, as his desperation turned to depression. In your life, what do you do when depression turns into depression?

When You’re Depressed

If you’re struggling with depression, whether it’s simply the winter blues or the pitch-black, dark night of the soul, here are five things that you need to remember. And please hear me on this… they won’t necessarily alleviate the depression, but they will give you some moorings when it feels like your being tossed to and fro by the tempest of life.

1. Be honest and don’t try to fake it. Job let it out… he was honest about what he was feeling. So often in the Christian community, we walk around with these plastic little smiles, and when asked how we’re doing by our friends, we tell them that everything is fine. Inside we’re crumbling. Inside we’re absolutely falling apart. While I can appreciate trying to maintain as positive, optimistic, faith-filled outlook as possible, so we’re not viewed as a constant Eeyore or Puddleglum… when you’re going through depression, be honest and don’t try to fake it, especially with your friends and family. When you’re struggling with depression, you’re already low on emotional energy. It’s not worth expending what energy you do have on trying to look like you have it all together. Be honest and don’t try to fake it.

2. You may say and do things you regret later. I wonder what Job thought about everything he said in chapter 3 once the storm passed. I wonder if he thought, “Okay, I was in a lot of pain in that moment… the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life, but there are some things I said that I regret.” Pain often makes us forget the joys and blessings of the past… because the present is so overwhelming… and the future feels so hopeless. In chapters 1 and 2, even amidst the catastrophe and suffering, Job rightly says that God is to be blessed whether He gives or takes away, whether it’s a season of good or a season of adversity. But the depression hits, and in the pain, he seems to forget all of the good things God has done in his life. I think he says some things that he later regrets. If you’re going through depression right now, remember that. Once again, don’t try to fake it… but just be careful… be discerning about what you say. If one of your friends or family members is going through a season, don’t be surprised when they say something that sounds over-the-top. Be attentive to their feelings and what they’re saying, but realize that because of the pain they’re experiencing, they may say and do things that they might regret later.

3. Suicide is never an option. Even though Job wishes that he would have died right then, throughout his story, you never get a whiff that he’s considering taking his own life. He never picks up a broken piece of pottery and slices his wrist. He never asks his friends to do a mercy killing. Even in the desperation and depression, Job was a man of faith, and suicide was never an option. If you’re in the darkest place you’ve ever been, you need to take any thoughts of suicide out of the equation. And if you’re having those kinds of thoughts, you need to get some help immediately. After the message, I’ll give you a way to get in contact with our LIGHT ministry. We can get you some help. Regardless of how deep the pain… how overwhelming the suffering… how desperate the depression, suicide is never an option.

4. Live on promises not explanations. Did you hear all of the “why” questions flood out of Job’s mouth? As I frequently say (because I’ve read and studied the book of Job several times), “God rarely answers the ‘why’ questions.” If you’re wondering why you’re going through depression, please hear me on this… with all pastoral compassion… God doesn’t “owe” you or me an explanation as to “why.” If He chooses to reveal that to you, awesome. But I often find that He doesn’t answer the “why” of suffering. This past year, when I was struggling with depression, several people asked me “why” I thought I was going through it… what was God trying to teach me. And those questions were asked out of a genuine concern. And there were days (and months) when I asked God the same question, especially when I’d done everything I knew how to do and it still wasn’t helping. But quite honestly, I’m not sure “why” I was going through the depression. I know what I learned from that season… things that came to the surface… some during… but most afterwards. And in all of it, God didn’t owe me an explanation. But what God did give me before, during, and after were promises. So even in the dark days, I chose to live on those promises… that one day (and who knew how long that would take), light would again shine through the clouds… that I could take all the pain and confusion to God and that He’d hear me. And here’s the most important promise that you need to live on if you’re going through depression…

5. God is there. In Philip Yancey’s book Disappointment with God, he tells the story of Christian Reger, a German Christian who survived the World War II concentration camp Dachau. Here’s what Yancey writes:

During the final winter, when coal supplies ran low, the ovens were finally shut off. Prisoners no longer had to put up with the constant stench of burning comrades. Many died of exposure, however, and the bodies were stacked naked in the snow like cordwood, a number stenciled on each with blue marker. Reger will tell such horror stories if you ask. But he never stops there. He goes on to share his faith, and how even at Dachau he was visited by a God of love. Reger said, “Nietzsche said a man can undergo torture if he knows the Why of life. But here at Dachau, I learned something far greater. I learned to know the Who of my life. He was enough to sustain me then, and is enough to sustain me still.”

Even in the most difficult, desperate, depressing times, God is there. The Apostle Paul reinforces this in Philippians 4:5b-7.

The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis added)

Many of us know vv. 6-7 (“be anxious about nothing… don’t worry… the peace of God which surpasses all understanding… guarding our hearts in Christ Jesus”). But we separate it from what comes immediately before, “The Lord is near.” God is there, even in the midst of the desperation and depression. There will be times when it feels like He’s not there… but please hear me… let your “theology” (your thoughts on God)… the reality and conviction that He is there… let that interpret your experience, even in desperation and depression. God is there.

The desperate days often produce depression… sometimes it’s a low-grade depression where it feels like the gray skies won’t let the sunshine through… and sometimes it feels like the darkest black night with no seeming hope of a sunrise on the horizon. Job went there… and there are times we will as well. There are times when a friend or family member experiences deep depression. In all of this, we need to be prepared as possible… especially when the desperate days turn into desperate weeks, desperate months, and even desperate years. In those seasons, we need to remember Job’s story. Be honest and don’t try to fake it. You may say and do things you regret later. Suicide is never an option. Live on promises not explanations. And the most important thing… God is there!

At the beginning of the message, I mentioned the wretched depression that Charles Spurgeon experienced. Here’s the rest of what Spurgeon had to say:

I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to. But I always get back again by this—I know that I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and get the victory through it. And so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it.

If you need help with depression, please contact Northshore’s LIGHT & Community Support Ministry.

Desperate Days

What happens when tragedy strikes? What happens when the dark clouds won’t go away? What happens when life doesn’t seem to go as we had planned or hoped? What happens when God seems silent? These are the desperate days… the dark night of the soul. When the desperate days are upon us, one of the best places to go in the Bible is the story of Job. Desperate days and human suffering are a reality. The question for us is, “How will we journey to faith in the midst of the desperate days?” Even if and when God seems silent, He is up to something greater… something transformational… and yes, even in the desperate days.

Join us January 8 – February 19 as we explore some important themes on suffering and faith in the book of Job. This is a great series to invite your friends and family who don’t know Jesus and who might be going through some desperate days of their own. Here are the themes we’ll talk about:

January 8 – When Tragedy Strikes (Job 1-2)

January 15 – Desperation and Depression (Job 3)

January 22 – Good and Bad Counsel (Job 4-28)

January 29 – Glimmers of Truth (Job 32-37)

February 5 – The Silence of God (Selected Passages)

February 12 – The Storm of Sovereignty (Job 38-41)

February 19 – The Journey to Faith (Job 42)

If you’d like to explore the book of Job and the themes of suffering, faith, and the gospel more in-depth, here are some recommended resources:

Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance (Charles Swindoll)

Be Patient: Waiting on God in Difficult Times (Warren Wiersbe)

Disappointment with God (Philip Yancey)

The Gospel According to Job (Mike Mason)

“How Can a Good God Allow Suffering?” (Message from the YouAskedForIt series)

“Suffering: If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?” (Message by Pastor Tim Keller)

Additional Resources for Grief