Pause for thought: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (Job 19:25).
As I write this, it seems that summer has arrived. I have noticed that when the sun is shining everyone is a little happier and more relaxed. I remember being quite annoyed one summer when I was ill with a cold! It made no sense, the summer is meant to be a happy time, a time when all cough medicine is put away, but it didn’t quite work like that! The idea of happiness in summer has got me thinking about the things that make us happy.
We all have things that make us happy. It may be the weather, it may be spending time with people, it may be something we really like to eat. Happiness comes in lots of different ways and at different times. One of my nieces didn’t like the term, ‘happy as Larry’. This was because, she said, ‘What if Larry had a day when he wasn’t happy.’
Happiness can seem quite elusive for people at times. People often expect Christians to be happy. This can put a lot of pressure on people who suffer from depression. It can be very hard as people can feel as if they are letting God down by being depressed. It isn’t true and I really hope that we are moving past this view in the Church.
Suffering from depression is the same as suffering from any illness. It is an illness, it is something that can happen to people who, it seems, have all the things that should make them happy.
Happiness is certainly something to enjoy. Depression is real, and the worst thing we can say to someone is that they should pull themselves together and get over how they are feeling. After all, we didn’t tell someone with a broken leg that they should go and run a marathon.
I think the best thing we can do is to let people know that ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. Job, in the Bible, had a tough time. He lost everything that was important to him. He had friends who tried to help him. Their help wasn’t the best. They sat with Job and reasoned with him that it was all his own fault.
Job got very angry with his friends, and with God. After all, it seemed that God hadn’t helped him. He did, however, come to a point when he said, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (Job 19:25).
When people suffer from depression, they may find it hard not to be angry with God. They may find their faith is all that they can hold on to, knowing, like Job, that their redeemer lives.
The best we can ever do is to be there with people in any suffering. We can sit with them, we can care for them, be there for them and we can let them know that it is ok not to be ok. And, of course, we can pray for comfort and strength each day for anyone who is suffering.
Finally, we can be confident ourselves, even if others can’t verbalize it, or sometimes even feel it, that ‘our redeemer lives’.
Revd Helen Rees