Last night before bed, I cracked open my bible to the book of Psalms and flipped to a page I already had bookmarked. On the page was Psalm 91, a psalm I used to revisit often during my last semester of college for encouragement and comfort. Despite its familiarity, I decided to read it again and found that it offered encouragement and comfort to me in a whole new way. It is definitely worth the read:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God, and I trust Him.
For He will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with His feathers.
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For He will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love Me.
I will protect those who trust in My name.
When they call on Me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them My salvation. – Psalm 91 (NLT)
Isn’t it interesting how certain passages of Scripture mean more or mean something new depending on what you’re personally experiencing at the time? True, it means it’s very difficult to truly read the bible objectively, but it’s also exciting that this book will always have something to say to me, no matter how many times I read it. And last night when I read Psalm 91, it meant something entirely new to me.
If you’ve checked out some of my other blog posts, you’ll know I’ve shared a bit about my ongoing struggle with depression. So when I read Psalm 91 yesterday, I was reading it with the eyes of someone who has been through a lot trying to find peace of mind, literally inside my own mind. I get scared of the darkness of depression. I fear the life-draining lies it tells me whenever it returns. And when it does return, what I fear most is the black fog of not wanting to exist anymore, how it seeps in and tears at the edge of my soul. Depression makes my consciousness feel like a very unsafe place that I am not capable of leaving.
That is why these verses in Psalm 91 were such a comfort to me.
“[The Lord] alone is my refuge, my place of safety.”
“His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
“If you make the Lord your refuge…no evil with conquer you…for He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.”
“I will protect those who trust in My name.”
Safety. Protection. Refuge. To someone battling depression who fears the dark thoughts and feelings it can bring, these verses make me feel safe. These verses nurture my faith by meeting me right where I am—dealing with major depressive disorder and all that goes with that.
That being said, I don’t want you to come away from this blog post thinking, “How nice, she’s able to get over depression by reading happy bible verses.” Believe me, I wish “getting over” depression was that easy. To be honest, when I’m in the middle of a depressive episode where everything feels dark and empty, I can’t even read the bible. But being that I’m not experiencing a depressive episode right now, I’m finding I’m able to read passages like these and actually feel refreshed by them. It’s like being able to enjoy the calm in between life-threatening storms.
I fear when the storms will come back, but I’m learning that the time in between is when I can be preparing and fortifying my heart. To anyone who hasn’t experienced depression before, this all probably sounds very odd, but this is the reality I’m currently living in. While I can feel the sunlight on my skin, I want to soak it in. I want to capture the beauty and warmth of these sunny days, so that when the storms do come back, I can cling to the reminders of the good I collected and know the storms won’t last forever. While I can read truths about who God is, I want to meditate on those truths so that when I feel alone in the dark, I can assure myself of the truth that God is still my refuge and place of safety.
If you’re interested in reading more about what it’s like living in between episodes of depression, check out my story recently published on The Mighty. I’ve been blown away by the open responses of people who have experienced or are experiencing the same kind of reality with depression as me.