By Craig Tally
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Is Scripture relevant in today’s world? Is Scripture germane to nuclear energy, climate change, modern moral and social issues, questions of science and the myriad challenges to spirituality in today’s world?
Of course, each of us must answer this question for ourselves. Matters of faith are personal.
For me, I find the message in Scripture to be as relevant as today’s newspaper.
I may have to dig beneath the culture and customs of that day. I may have to look behind the vernacular to find the meaning. But when I do make the effort, I find meaning as relevant as the warm rays of the sun on a cold day -- a sun that is older than the Scriptures.
Consider with me the matter of depression. Buzz Aldrin went to the moon and returned to a deep, dark depression. Winston Churchill said depression haunted him like a black dog. Ernest Hemingway fought depression throughout his life and finally gave up. Abraham Lincoln suffered with depression long before his presidency and the Civil War.
Andrew Solomon, in his informative, non-clinical book “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” startled me with the claim that “The most accurate statement that can be made on the frequency of depression is that it occurs often and, directly or indirectly, affects the lives of everyone.”
Think of the thousands of books and periodicals describing and discussing depression. Think of the high percentage of medical files in doctors’ offices recording cases of depression. Think of the millions of prescriptions written and renewed.
Amid all this activity, might we find a word in Scripture about depression? Or is Scripture silent on this subject?
Scripture is not at all silent. In fact, I can think of numerous passages that relate to depression.
But one passage stands out to me because of the astonishing similarity between its conclusions thousands of years ago and those offered by Solomon in his book, which was published in 2002. Placing the 42nd and 43rd Psalm alongside his book demonstrates the timelessness of Scripture.
In his book, Solomon states that there is, as of now, no known cure for depression. Medically speaking, the best one can hope for is some degree of relief. Still, one must doggedly work through those bouts with depression.
For help in this never-ending struggle with depression, the author proposes two ideas: One is faith. He is not speaking specifically of faith in God, which he personally finds difficult. Rather, he talks about faith in friends, family, spouse or ideals.
The important thing for Solomon is possessing faith. But for those of us who do believe in God, then, by all means, draw upon that faith, he would say.
Then Solomon writes about the value of love. Thinking about love, expressing love, giving and accepting love, feeling loved -- all of these experiences provide a tremendous impact on us as we work through these struggles with depression.
Turning to the 42nd and 43rd Psalm, I find these same ideas, and more. Depression is the struggle that we hear in the words “Why is my soul cast down?” Dogged determination is present in the declaration to God, “I will remember you.” Faith is evident in the phrase “Hope in God.” And then we see and feel love in the words “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me.”
Through Scripture, the timeless word of God can come to us in this modern age, offering hope, direction, understanding, security and confidence in living through these days.
Craig Tally is the senior minister of First Community Church in Joplin. His column appears bi-weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.