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The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
April 25, 2014
Resurrection in Depression
I woke up the other morning with words to the hymn “Low in the Grave He Lay” in my head: “Up from the grave he arose! With a mighty triumph o’er his foes!”
Ironically, I hadn’t been able to get up and triumphantly rise any morning because of the immobilizing depression I had been experiencing over the past month. There are days—sometimes weeks and years—that feel like an eternal Good Friday. All seems lost, bleak, forlorn, and forgotten. I feel hung out to die by God. I see the brokenness in my life, my relationships, and the world and wonder how things will ever change.
Yet Easter underscores to us the power of the resurrection of Jesus, something we so often forget as Christians.
Recently on a trip with InterVarsity to L.A., I watched my friend James pray for a man with a walker who was in such pain he could barely shuffle down the street. We were on our way to dinner, but James saw the man, stopped, and prayed for his healing. The rest of us were annoyed he was lagging behind to the Mexican restaurant we were heading to; we were hungry! When James joined us he shared that the man immediately felt better and could actually walk, and that he was profusely grateful and joyful that James had prayed for his healing in their brief interaction.
God didn’t just raise Jesus as a disembodied spirit, a floaty good feeling that would descend upon people occasionally. He raised his physically dead body to life. And the same power of God that coursed through the body of Jesus to raise him from the dead is available to us.
In our lives, Jesus has the power to reach into the graves we have dug for ourselves because of our choices to reject the goodness of God, the love he is seeking to demonstrate to us in relationship, or the instructions he has for us in Scripture. To reach us not just when we’re in a bad spot or going through a rough patch, but when we’re dead. Into the stink of death and decay that comes from the things done to us and from what we have left undone, Jesus reaches his powerful hand to lift us out of the grave.
Which means that we too can sing the song: “Up from the grave he arose! With a mighty triumph o’er his foes! He arose a victor from the dark domain and he lives forever, with his saints to reign!” He lives with us forever. Our today can be different because of Jesus.
In the midst of the darkness and pain in my life, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I have a community of people I can reach out to and ask for prayer. He also reminded me that I don’t need to wallow in my own pain; I can actually serve and pray for others. I can choose to see the ways he’s breaking through the darkness in the gentle reminders of a listening friend, the laugh of my children, a good night’s sleep, or a psalm that reminds me, “Yeah, life can suck. But Jesus is Lord.” The depression, pain, and darkness in your life can be broken because Jesus has conquered all of it. He offers his love and power to us today and forever.
As I got up, with the words to the hymn still in my head, I prayed with gratitude that Jesus has power over the depression in my life. I remembered the friends who had prayed for me and that though it was difficult for me to see God, their prayers were carrying me and holding my head up so I could see him. He can reign victorious over the relationships that I have no power to fix. He can breathe new life into my weary soul, into the unjust systems and structures in my city, and see them rise, gloriously, because of the Holy Spirit mobilizing his people to love and serve as he does.
You may feel like you’re in a bleak place. It’s easy to be consumed with the pain in your life, to turn your focus to that. But Jesus invites us to do something entirely different: to turn our eyes to him as the resurrected Son of God and to sing with him the songs of triumphant resurrection for our lives and world. He sees us and loves us and extends his resurrection power to us today.
Psalm 23 is a profound reminder that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death and darkness, we don’t have to fear, because God is with us, protecting, leading, and providing for us so that we will lack nothing.