By Emily Miller
Full disclosure: I am writing to you as a diagnosed depressed person.
I am that annoying person in your life who points out that you’re going to die, your family is going to die, your kids are going to grow up and die, the flowers are going to die… death, death, death. I am in the place where all work looks futile, every good thing ends, your achievements will be forgotten, your pretty house will be pretty long after you are in the ground, and everything is meaningless. Basically I’m Ecclesiastes and Psalm 88 which ends “Darkness is my closest friend.”
So if you’re still here, let’s talk about spending time with Jesus. See, if you’re not depressed, suffering, grieving, or discontent now… you will be.
“if you’re not depressed, suffering, grieving, or discontent now… you will be.”
If your practice of reading the Bible is based on ideal circumstances and feelings, you will almost never read the Bible. Rare is the day when you are vacationing in Italy, warming your hands with the perfect macchiato, sitting in golden morning sunlight while flower petals drift around you, getting insight after insight from Leviticus. And if that does happen, you probably won’t want to spend that morning reading Leviticus anyway.
If you almost never read the Bible, then you will have nothing but vague feelings about Who God is and how He can support you when the inevitable seasons of loss, change, and sadness arrive.
Feelings don’t care about facts. If we feel that God is angry at us, then He must be, right? If we feel that God has abandoned us, then He must have. If we feel that life has no purpose, then there must be no purpose.
Facts don’t care about our feelings either. God loves us, is with us, and has a purpose for our lives that far outlasts death no matter what we feel. How can we know that? Because the Bible tells us so.
“God loves us, is with us, and has a purpose for our lives that far outlasts death no matter what we feel.”
God loves us even if we don’t spend time with Him every day. So here comes another question: Why spend time with Jesus when you can’t even muster up enough energy to get up in the morning, shower, or live at all?
We have an enemy who is all too happy to use our feelings against us and against the character of God. Unless we know exactly what Scripture does and does not say we won’t have anything to protect us from the power of his voice when we are weak, crushed, and overwhelmed. During those moments of intense warfare when everything screams: “There is no hope! You are worthless! How dare you think that you’re forgiven for that!” it won’t be enough to mutter, “I think God loves me…” or, “My pastor says that God has a future and a hope for me…”
You need to have scripture rooted so deeply in your soul that you can tell the Accuser’s voice from your Shepherd’s voice and then attack the lies with the power of what scripture actually says, not what you think scripture probably says.
“You need to have scripture rooted so deeply in your soul that you can tell the Accuser’s voice from your Shepherd’s voice”
The only way this happens is if you build a daily practice of reading the Bible for yourself.
I started reading the Bible daily when I was thirteen. I got into a mindset that nothing else in my day is as important as spending time meditating on what God’s word says. I have a deep pattern in my life of shame, sadness, and despair. Having my quiet time every day- even for just 15 minutes- no matter the circumstances or how I feel, has taught me to submit my feelings to facts. Submitting feelings to facts has given me the strength to shower when I don’t feel like it, to exercise when I don’t feel like it, to eat when I don’t feel like it, to love my kids when I don’t feel like it, and to trust God when I don’t feel like it.
This learned skill of reading the Bible whether I’m traveling, sick, working at 4 in the morning, recovering from childbirth, or mothering two kids under 2 has helped me come to the Bible every day, even when I’m depressed. I’ve found that what Scripture says is sufficient for me even when my feelings are powerfully fueled by lies. During this bout of depression, I literally get up in the morning by growling these verses to myself: ‘‘I myself no longer live but Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20) and, ‘you are not your own you have been bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) so get up and honor God, Emily!”
“what Scripture says is sufficient for me even when my feelings are powerfully fueled by lies.”
So I write to encourage you -not in the sense of making you feel good but rather to give you courage– to persist in building a practice of reading the Bible into your life. I want you to be free from the power of feelings so that in all seasons of life you remain deeply rooted in Christ and His love for you, held by the full weight and power of His Word. Knowing Jesus and being transformed through reading His living and active Word is one thing can you do every day that will give you life and purpose… long after your body is in the ground.
Emily is a mother of two young children and has little time for much else. She began a daily quiet time at age thirteen, and her relationship with Jesus has remained a constant for Emily as she went from being a missionary kid in Mongolia, to working as a barista in Oregon, to marrying and starting a family in Florida. Emily enjoys writing poetry, dancing while doing housework, watching storms, and laughing at her husband, children, and herself.