If depression can defeat the King of Comedy, what hope is there for the rest of us?
I heard the shocking news today that Robin Williams, the man who always made me laugh, the man who could turn any comment into an occasion for fun, the man who was so full of life and empathy and “touched every element of the human spirit”, –that man gave up hope, gave in to depression and ended his own life at the age of 63. If this man who knew the art of making people happy, could not conquer depression, who can?
Comedians cannot conquer depression. They can mask the pain or make it go away for a time until you have to face yourself again. Doctors cannot conquer depression by dispensing medications that fail to provide a long-term solution and often create terrible side effects. Handing out pills that play tricks on your mind and bring you into ever varying conflicts of side-effects.
There is one who can conquer the deadly foe of depression. He does not live in a world oblivious to pain and unaffected by suffering. He felt every pain, he endured every test, he was forsaken and abandoned by all. Yet his life conquered the darkness and turned evil into good and death into life. Hope is found in a living and real Person –Jesus Christ.
I know because I have been there. I walked through the dark valley of depression with Jesus as my guide. I couldn’t see Him. But He was there and He brought me out into the light again. I want to share with you how you can also find hope in your hopelessness. You have a God who is there and who wants to help you; there are answers in His Word that address your situation. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19a, emphasis added). When you feel like the waves of your irrational emotions are going to wreck your life, you must trust in your anchor to hold you fast so that you can weather the storm.
The only reliable anchor in this world of pain is the firm belief in God’s ability and His promise to bring goodness out of chaos. God proved that He could do that when He created the world out of nothing. Then He proved it again in an even greater way when He raised Jesus from the dead. In the death of Jesus, mankind accomplished the worst crime ever conceived. They took the man who had shown them by his miracles and teachings that he was the perfect, sinless, Son of God—they took Him and nailed Him to a cross.
But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. For David says of Him, “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope…” (Acts 2:24-26).
If David could live in hope while looking ahead to the promised resurrection of the Messiah, we can certainly live in hope, knowing that God has accomplished it already and we have the written testimony of reliable eye-witnesses to verify it.
What did that resurrection accomplish for us? We were in the most hopeless situation imaginable, we had rebelled against our creator and deserved to die and be punished eternally. But when God raised Jesus, He was showing that He was accepting the death of His Son in our place. His wrath was completely spent and satisfied. We can have peace with God. We can live in hope of a future of rest a future with no tears or pain, a future when every wrong will be made right.
The gospel of Jesus Christ gives you hope! You need to preach the gospel to yourself every day. That is the good news that I sought to focus on with the help of my wife. We read the Gospel accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and book after book about the gospel including the marvelous letter to the Ephesians. I saturated my numb mind with the wonderful truths of the gospel. We placed gospel promises on three by five cards and covered the walls and bathroom mirrors of our tiny apartment with them so that no matter where I looked I saw a gospel promise. I couldn’t remember them myself but my wife could quote them to me so my cold, dead heart could be revived. What an exchange: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Only Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords can truly conquer depression because He conquered death for us!