I woke up this morning and I did not want to get out of bed. I did not have a lot of motivation or ambition for today. I have to take a thyroid medicine every morning that forces me to wait a half hour before I can eat breakfast, so I often use this as an excuse to lay in bed for that extra half hour. Yet, as I lay there this morning, I realized that I actually had a pretty busy day planned, so I got up and took a shower.
The shower is a good time to think. I found myself feeling very depressed, and it bugged me, so I was doing some mental wrestling in the shower. I have been depressed all week, and I do not really know why, but I wanted to figure it out. If you think hard enough, all of us could probably come up with a significant list of things that could cause us to be depressed. Today, I did not have any major issue that was causing me to be depressed. I just felt down. I felt like there was a constant cloud that would hover overhead.
In an attempt to try to motivate myself, I found myself thinking things like, “What is it all for? What is life all about? What’s the point?” Life felt kind of pointless and meaningless, and I thought if I could remind myself of the answers to the above questions, then I would have the drive to overcome the cloud of depression. Instead, I kept coming back to that word: meaningless.
I have always really resonated with the Book of Ecclesiastes. A lot of the questions that Solomon (I think that’s who wrote it) asks are similar to the ones I have personally wrestled with. If you have not read Ecclesiastes lately or ever, I recommend carving out a chunk of time to read it. Solomon, who achieved all kinds of wealth and position in the world and was granted the gift of wisdom, wrestles through all of these “What is the point?” kinds of questions. I honestly wonder if he was depressed when he wrote it. Read it and see what you think. His conclusion is this:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Our “duty,” or the point for us being here is to fear God and obey Him.
Sometimes this does not feel like enough. If I am honest, I do not get excited to think that I was put on this planet only to fear God and obey Him. Fearing God and obeying Him is not fun, in and of itself. It is often painful as I realize I fall short of his glorious standard. What IS fulfilling is knowing that God does have assignments for each one of us and that through fearing Him and obeying Him, we are able to fulfill those assignments. That is why we wrestle with, “Why am I here?”
My family and I watched “Rise of the Guardians” last night and as I watched Jack Frost wrestle through why he existed, I found my heart stirred by that question. Why am I here? Jeremiah 29:11 promises that God has plans for us, good plans. We do not always know how those good plans are going to pan out. If infertility has taught me anything, it is that the plans I make may seem good, but in the end, I have to trust the true Author of Life. What we do know is that as we journey and ask God, “What do you want to do in me and through me today?” our joy and success is rooted in whether or not we genuinely fear God and desire to obey Him. He longs to take us on an adventure, but we have to play by His rules.
Here is how I have come to look at it. I try to be a good parent. I love my kids more than I can express. I want them to obey me, not so I can get an adrenaline rush from exercising a power trip. I want them to obey me because if they don’t, they will be hurt – either physically or mentally. God is the same way.
Too many people view God as the power-trip being in the sky who is waiting to catch everyone in a mis-deed. Viewing God that way admits that you think God delights in catching people in sin. That could not be further from the truth. God delights in those who fear Him – who put their trust in Him – admitting they can not do it (make good choices all the time) on their own. He delights in those who want to obey Him because they recognize that God laid out some rules for their own good. He wanted us to know how to have a blessed life and how to avoid a cursed one. He does not want life to feel meaningless.
God has not only shown us how to have a purposeful life, he has helped us live a purposeful life.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him (Jesus) who called us by his own glory and goodness” (1 Peter 1:3, parenthesis added).
God has equipped AND empowered us with everything we need to live a godly life – through Jesus. Jesus presented an example to follow AND he gave us his Spirit to live in us and guide us. We first need to desire to walk in God’s ways, and then we need to listen to the Holy Spirit and walk in the power we have been given.
Life is not meaningless if our priorities and perspectives are properly aligned. A life lived for self is meaningless. Everything physical in this world will fade away one day, but the souls of men (and women and children) will live forever. Are you investing in what will last or has life begun to feel meaningless? I am reminded, yet again, to invest well…
This morning I woke up depressed, but had an opportunity to listen to a friend share some of her heart struggles. As I focused on someone other than myself, a freeing thing happened; the depression was driven away. Depression feeds when we gaze at ourself. When we choose to do something for someone else, we starve the life-source of the depression, and the clouds begin to part. Our lasting victory comes in fearing God and obeying him: Loving God and loving others. Easier said than done, but a worthy venture, nonetheless.
Interestingly, I do not feel totally satisfied as I have written this blog. I feel something is still missing. Hopefully God can fill in the gaps. I never, for a moment, want to trivialize issues like depression that are a huge battle for so many. I do, however, believe that there is victory to be had over any obstacle we face, including depression. There is always HOPE. The solutions are often complicated as they involve a mix of different battles all converging into a tangled mix. What I believe deep in my gut is that God is more powerful than any battle we will face and we CAN have victory if we look to Him for help and we are willing to fight back. We can only have victory if we are claiming the victory in the name of the King of all Kings. Our ultimate purpose, what makes life meaningful, is to serve the King. He is a good King.