Joni Eareckson Tada: Sharing Hope

When Hearts are Heavy

Episode Summary

When your soul is downcast within you, do as the Psalmist does – remember the Lord. Nothing helps a heavy heart more than lifting your eyes Godward. As you call out to God for help and hope, the depression may not lift right away. But you can trust that he is listening, and he is going to help you.

Episode Notes

Watch the video Joni mentions - Can God Bring Good From Suffering?

If you need help with depression, please reach out to the Response Department at Joni and Friends.

Episode Transcription

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and yes, I struggle with depression.

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s like, it’s like nothing can pull me out of it. For me, I know I’m in trouble when my mood turns dark and dismal for absolutely no apparent reason. No one has offended me; I don’t feel anxious; I’m not taking any medications with weird side effects; I’m not stressed. It just appears, like a dark cloud that you don’t even notice creeping in, but all of a sudden, you look at the morning, or you look at a messy kitchen, or you look at yourself in the mirror, and you know you’re in trouble. When that happens, every thought feels like a dead weight. I look at my Bible, and I don’t want to open it. I hear the phone ring, and I don’t want to answer it. Everything feels heavy. And you know what? I just hate that when it happens. 

But it has happened often enough for me to trace, to keep a record. Long ago, I started keeping a journal of those times my mood would go south or turn sour or become small and sad. If depression occurs often, it’s a good practice, this thing with charting your moods. Like, what is it that sets me off? Why is it so hard to pray or read the Bible or engage in conversation? What am I doing? What’s happening around me? Well, over the years of writing down and describing on paper those seasons of depression, I’ve discovered something. For one thing, if it’s occasional depression – and not the kind of long-term despair that I suffered through in the hospital – if it’s only now and then, I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong with me. It is part of what it means to be human and everyone – if they’re honest – has dark moods; some of them, lasting a long time. For me, though, tracing my depression showed me that it happens most frequently when I become disengaged. Disengaged with healthy routines and good habits – don’t work too hard, Joni; don’t forego rest and refreshment; and most of all, listen to what your disability – this quadriplegia, this chronic pain – listen to what it’s telling you. Because, you know, sometimes I’m just the sort who puts my head down and plows ahead without going to God for grace. And then, I end up saying to Ken something like, “Man, do I need help. I’m in such trouble. I am so tired of this pain; I have no perseverance left in me for this hurting, and I simply cannot do it anymore.”

Ken has heard me say it before. And so, he stops everything, and he prays for me. And as I listen to him pray, I’m pleading alongside, “Oh God, receive what he’s saying, would you? I need your grace; I need your help; you’re the God of endurance and I beg you; I’m pleading for you to get me through the day with a brighter heart.” Now, I don’t always feel the depression lift, but I know – I mean, I know that I know – that I am on the right path. And I know that God’s listening, and he’s going to help me. Psalm 42 says, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember you.” Oh, God. Nothing helps a heavy heart better than lifting your sights Godward. And over time, I find myself slowly coming up out of those morbid feelings. And when I do? Oh, man, I’m the tenth leper. I spend extra time thanking him as though my life depended on it – and it does.

Everyone’s depression is different, and I’m not trying to put my story out there as a template for anyone, but I would encourage you to visit today and watch a video interview I did years ago called “What Good Can Come from Suffering?” Might be just the thing to help you lift your heavy heart to the lightness of the Lord today.


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