Text: “But I, O Lord, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me? Wretched and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am desperate. Your wrath has swept over me; your dread assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; from all sides they close in on me. You have caused friend and neighbor to shun me; the darkness is my closest friend.”
Scripture: Psalm 88:13-18
Reflection: Clinical depression is a real, debilitating, and lonely illness. Maybe you have battled this yourself. Maybe you have been in a relationship with someone, a friend, family, or significant other who has dealt with this. If so, you know that the words of the Psalmist were not meant to be “a bit much,” or “it can’t be that bad.” When you suffer from mental illness such as clinical depression it is that bad. Darkness feels like your closest friend. I had a friend suffer with this, and literally everything was slower for her. Her speed of speech was slow, her volume low, her desire to be alone, very high. If she prayed, her prayers were like this of the psalmist, a sense that God had cast her off. I felt like I was speaking with her through a plexiglass wall and a phone like you do when you visit someone in prison. I could see her, I could tell her I cared, but she otherwise felt unreachable.
God does not cast off those who suffer. That is my experience and my unwavering belief. What God does, which is a beautiful sacrificial and parental gift, is let us flail and blame and cry and beat God’s chest in anger and desperation. We are allowed to shake our fists at the sky and cry out why would you do this to me, and we don’t get any recoil from God for it. God just waits. As if God understands that our words and our anger are part of our process. And if we are suffering from mental illness, that likely this psalm writer is, that God is strong enough for the darkest of our thoughts and the deepest of our pain.
This week is mental health awareness week. If you or someone you know suffers from mental health illness seek help. If you have no idea where to start, try Now Mental Health. Call 1-888-528-1006, they’ll walk you through scheduling an appointment. Mental health is not an optional wellness endeavor it is a matter of life and death. Remember that everyone is fighting a battle. Unlike a cast and crutches it is an injury that is not visible to others, but it is just as difficult to walk. Be kind. Seek help. Know that our God is a God of grace and compassion who cares for those who are ill.
Prayer: God thank you for being our punching bag when we feel angry. Thank you for inviting us back into your arms when we have crumpled. Help us to be full of kindness and remind us that everyone is fighting their own battle, even if we cannot see it. Amen.