Yesterday reports confirmed that one of the greatest actors in history took his life because of depression. Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors. In fact, oddly enough, he is also my father’s celebrity look-alike. Every time I see him in a movie, I am reminded of my dad.
Anyways, I haven’t been able to shake this story from my mind to focus on more “important” stories, such as the Isis genocide or the Israel/Hamas warring finally subsiding for a time. I keep coming back to the thought that this guy had it all! He had Emmy awards, an Oscar, world-wide fame and wealth. A loving family, talent, and even wisdom. True, he was suffering from a down-hill slope in the ratings recently, and he had always struggled with alcoholism. But from the outside, these things seem trivial compared to his success. So why the depression, and why did it lead to suicide?
I have often heard little antidotes such as “suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do.” and “Depression is the result of negative thinking.” I’ve even taken some classes in psychology to learn that Clinical Depression is extremely difficult to get a grasp on and diagnose; and yet is no less dangerous. I have friends that suffer from anxiety and depression, and I struggle to understand what they are going through.
I used to think that depression was just a catch-all for laziness and lack of accountability. I used to think that those who were too depressed to get a job simply had no drive or ambition. I have now come to the conclusion that I was pathetically wrong about these beliefs. I have learned that some of the most depressed people I have met are also very driven, dependable, and certainly not lazy.
I used to believe that those depressed couldn’t possibly know Jesus! In fact, to know Jesus is to know true joy, fulfillment, happiness, and purpose. So people that are too anxious to get out of bed could certainly have no relationship with the Almighty! In fact, if I believed this way currently, I would use this argument against Mr. Williams. He seemed to have everything in the world that would make a man happy, and yet he took his life. He certainly didn’t know Jesus.
But then again, how many have known the Lord and still lamented their current struggle.
This morning I opened up my bible to Psalm 42. I am reading through the psalms, doing five a day, and today just happened to be the day I read this. “Why am I so depressed? Why is this turmoil within me…I am deeply depressed; therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan…I will say to God, my rock, why have You forgotten me…Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?”
These verses were ascribed to the Sons of Korah. There is an amazing story behind these Korah guys. Simply put, they were the relatives of a man who tried to rebel against God and was brought down(Numbers 16). They were originally placed in a position of honor, then brought to nothing. Through time, God began restoring their family to its rightful position. In fact, the Prophet Samuel was a decedent of Korah, and many of these “sons” became musical leaders within the temple.
Many of the most beautiful poetry in the Psalms was a contribution to the sons of Korah. “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants after You…Be still and know that I am God…” It seems that these sons were extremely poetic and abounded in the knowledge of their Creator…Yet they were also depressed.
Maybe the Sons of Korah were able to feel and understand the human condition a little bit more than others. In fact, their story seems to echo ours, doesn’t it? We were placed in a place of high honor. In our foolish pride we chose to rebel from our Creator and were brought to nothing. Yet in His graciousness, He chooses to restore us. This is the redeeming story that echos throughout eternity. This story gives us hope, joy, peace, purpose…but also hurts a little. To accept this story, we must accept the fact that we are screwed up. We must accept that we are nothing on our own. This can most certainly be depressing.
I think that the depressed Christian gets this fact better than anyone else. I think he is able to empathize better with those who have no hope in Christ, because the nerve is still raw from the wound of sin. This might be why so many of our great poets, musicians, and artists were and are so depressed. They were and are more able to fully grasp the human condition and share it with a world that almost seems to deny this despair.
I think the world needs depressed Christians. I think God uses depressed Christians to connect to those still in despair. I think it’s amazing that a depressed Christian can look up in his depression, and cry out “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and God.”