Depression tells you that you are weak – and that’s okay

It’s the funny thing about Sertraline.  Every morning if you’ve been pre-scribed it, the box sits there on the breakfast table as a reminder that you need to take your medication. And each morning, it shouts out to you “You are so weak.”

It’s funny because you don’t think that when you get up and have to take your asthma inhaler or anti-histamines do you? Yet the diagnosis of mental health problems and the treatment that comes with it seems to still further expose our helplessness and insecurities. 

I recently wrote about facing failure. When I got diagnosed with depression, I felt that I was a failure. I was embarrassed. I felt weak.  I wanted to be able to just power through to the other side and be okay. I didn’t want to be on medication.  Yet, as I wrote on “Grace in the Depths”, this realisation of weakness, helplessness and failure is essential. This is because it pushes me back to God’s grace.

I am reminded of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 talking about his thorn in the flesh.  He doesn’t tell us what it was and perhaps that is deliberate because it helps us think about what our own “thorn is.” Some people have suggested that “thorn in the flesh” could be paraphrased as “pain in the neck.” Well, depression certainly is a pain in the neck isn’t it? Whatever, Paul’s thorn was, I get the impression it is not something he would have chosen to go through or wish on anyone else. He explicitly asks God’ three times to remove it. However, this was God’s response.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”[1]

This gives Paul a different perspective on his weakness so that now he boasts about it. He is willing to shout out “yes I am weak.”  You see, our weakness means that we have to cling to Christ and depend on his grace.  Well, I would not have wished my experience of descending into depression last year on anyone. I would rather have not gone through that myself. However I can say that in it I discovered the grace that is all I need.

Be encouraged. You may feel completely weak and useless. Yet God chooses the weak things for his glory. God can and will work through your weakness.


[1] 2 Corinthians 12:9

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