Depression, Lake Michigan, and Jesus.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart? 

Lake Michigan is 1,180 cubic miles of water, 923 feet at its deepest, and more than 100 miles across. Meaning you have to go more than half way across the lake to see the other shore. By all accounts and measurements it is an enormous lake, and a huge portion of the worlds fresh water. It is an unfathomable, in-tamable, and frenzied piece of God’s creation. Hundreds of boats and thousands of lives have been taken over the years by Lake Michigan. Yet, it can also be serene, peaceful and beautiful in an indescribable way.  A kind of beauty that only exists in something that can also destroy.

I’ve spent my life on the Michigan shorelines and have seen first hand the elegance and destructive powers of the lake. I’ve spent untold hours swimming, boating, fishing and sitting beside her. She has become a symbol of home. A symbol of belonging, meaning, and understanding. The best times of my life have been with her, but so have the worst. Lake Michigan has also become a symbol of something less pleasant, Something that most prefer to lock away in a closet or dark cellar. Depression.

Depression: Noun, feelings of severe despondency and dejection. Depression is a word with many meanings. Many emotions, many opinions, and many stories attached. A large portion of the population struggle with depression, some forms of depression affect as much as 7% of adults. For me depression is a part of daily life. The words of King David in Psalm 13 capture the emotional state that I often find myself living in. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” 

Lake Michigan and depression have much in common. The unpredictability and fierceness of the lake are a nearly perfect allusion to the emotions that exist in the mind of a person struggling with depression. A beautiful day full of sunshine, family, and good food, on one of the many beaches of lake Michigan, can in a moment, be tossed into a spiral of chaos by the lake, or by the unrelenting grasp of depression. I’ve spent many hours sitting on the Pentwater pier looking at the deep waters of the lake and asking questions of the water that no one can answer. The pure quantity of the water makes lake Michigan unknowable, in-graspable, and unpredictable. Having depression causes you to live in a mental state that is the same way, causes you to sit by the water and wonder about things you cant really describe and certainly never understand. But, thankfully, we can know someone who can answer the questions, someone who can bring peace to the mind of depression, someone who can walk on water.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:25-27. 

The disciples were out on a lake, at night. In a literal sea of darkness. when a storm came down on them. Chaos and pandemonium were ringing out through the sea of confusion and terror.  When through the darkness a solution appeared. Salvation appeared. An answer to the literal storm of the lake, and an even more satisfying answer to the storm of depression appeared. Jesus the living man, fully God, fully man arrived to the rescue of the disciples. This same living being has arrived to my rescue and he exists, waiting to come to yours.

I have been rescued by this Jesus. My life has been met with traumatic and sudden loss. I could spend many words telling stories about the loved ones I have lost along the way. But that is not the point of my story. If I was still lost at see in the storm of depression, and being tossed about by the waves of loss, those stories would be all that I have to define myself by. And what a sad existence that would be. Great rescue is the new definition of my life. My identity does not lie in the storm of the lake. My identity lies in the one who calms the sea.  My identity lies in one who loved me first, in one who offered his very life as a perfect sacrifice for me. And for you.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
   I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

King David, in his youth, wrestled with lions and bears to protect the sheep he was charged with caring for. Later in life he wrestled with deep depression. In the Psalms we see the words of a man who is lost at sea, who is scared of the darkness of questions and sadness the lurk around him trying desperately to toss him into the waters. But just as the disciples, just as I, and just as you can, he found peace in the arms of the one who walks on water.

Don’t spend your life lost at sea. It may be depression, it may be fear, there are a thousand problems that can bind us away in the darkness and hide our joy, peace, and love deep in the cellars of sin. Don’t let that be the definition of your life. Today, this very moment, grab your phone and look up the gospel of John, grasp onto the one who walks on water. As David wrestled bears and lions for his sheep, Jesus will wrestle them for you. Leave the sea behind, and take hand of the only One who holds the answer.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 10:28

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Depression, Lake Michigan, and Jesus.

  1. Very well-written! I like that you focus on God’s redemptive grace for us while we remain fighting. The weakness and fear of seeing something like a ghost is much like what I experienced struggling with depression myself, and it makes a fitting comparison.

    Like

  2. Depression is no joke, and it takes more than self-will to fight it. I agree that we should not wallow in it or allow it to define us, but it isn’t always simple to overcome. Dwelling on God’s unfailing love and meditating on positive things is the place to start.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading! I agree 100% with your comment. As a person with depression I certainly understand no amount of self will can drag you out of it. It is a life long battle. A battle that should start with taking the hand of Jesus everyday. In the future I plan to write a post more focused on the steps and action it takes to live a healthy life while suffering with depression.

      Like

  3. John 7:37: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” I pray that the welling up within you will fill the emptiness of the world that despairs of his distance. It is not an easy work to face with courage. Thank-you for giving us such powerful images of your journey.

    Like

  4. Thanks for sharing this piece of your story. The Great Lakes have a special place in my heart. They are a place of beauty but can change to a place of horror and destruction. I pray your life will hold to the love and peace that God provides.

    Like

  5. Reblogged this on Theological Reflections and commented:
    Thanks for sharing this post! I really enjoyed the illustrative imagery that you incorporated. Jesus truly is the Answer to each and every one of our problems. All that He asks is for our submission and trust. I am living proof of this reality.
    Paul reassuringly tells us to, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”(Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

    Heavenly Father,
    May all of those who struggle in this and all other capacities of their personal lives surrender their lives to You just as they are. May Your transcendent peace transform them from the inside out as they continually trust in You!
    In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

    Like

  6. Evan, loved this post. Really enjoying this blog. Love what you guys are doing. My son Jake, a former NFL player and former Wisconsin Badger just published a devotional for young men. First and Goal, What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. I’d love to send a copy to your crew. Is there an address or two I could send the books to? The link to his book is here: http://amzn.to/1FAYKo8 My email is hjmichael at sbcglobal.net

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s