Twenty some years ago, I landed in a black hole of depression that rendered me bereft, despairing, exhausted. Though I would regularly sink into a low-level lethargy with fall’s waning PNW light, this particular year felt like a bludgeon.
When my doctor walked me through the standard depression questionnaire, all those checkmarks left neither of us surprised at my diagnosis: I was clinically depressed from seasonal affective disorder. Winter’s darkness had invaded my body and my mind—and the gloom of it hammered my very soul.
A slew of antidepressants later, I sat with a different physician as she scanned the lab report from my blood draw, which this time included a test new for me: Vitamin D. “Below 10,” she said. “No wonder you’re depressed.” She scribbled dosages on a notepad. I began taking D3 supplements, and my depression dissipated like fog.
What never left me was profound empathy for those who struggle with debilitating depression. I remember that pain. That hopelessness. That overwhelming . . . overwhelm.
I also remember all the well-meaning advice to “pray,” “root out trauma,” “confess your sins,” “exercise,” “eat better,” “sleep,” “get more light,” . . . and a half dozen others.
Legit suggestions, all, since depression can be far more complicated than replacing a vitamin. Doctors and counselors and pastors are still learning about the synergistic mind-body-spirit connection. It’s only been a few years, for example, since researchers discovered that most of our serotonin is manufactured in our guts, and that the food we eat affects its production and availability to our brains. Who knew?
But that’s a subject for another day.
Back then, I employed all the available solutions, given the current knowledge. Though some helped temporarily, the depression roared back. Guilt and failure piggybacked on the darkness inside of me, and I felt abandoned, unable to sense the nearness of the living God I love and depend upon. I felt so alone. Isolated. If you’ve been there, you know all the adjectives describing depression. Must be a hundred of them, and they still can’t touch the depths of that trench.
Oh, for the words of Diana Gruver in that season. Here is an author whose work embodies Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” She molds depression’s debris into a perceptive book of encouragement, showing readers truths to remember when we’re in depression’s throes, how God can infuse meaning into suffering, and how He remains near to us through it all.
Gruver’s book Companions in the Darkness: Seven Saints Who Struggled with Depression and Doubt carries readers into the personal angst and struggles of Christ-followers who fought depression, some for a lifetime. Of saints whose suffering played a pivotal role in God’s transformation of the church, of culture, of families, and of personal lives. Of how God empowered them to endure.
Just as he did for the author, during her own dark days.
No dry history here. This book will have you breathing the same air as Martin Luther, Hannah Allen, David Brainerd, William Cowper, Charles Spurgeon, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr.—and of author Diana Gruver. In learning from their lives, you’ll find renewed hope for your own, and may discover God’s purpose in your suffering.
I highly recommend this thoughtful, wise, beautifully written book.
“My Father’s house has many rooms . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
Follow the leader.
“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”
“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?”
Better than coffee.
Praying the Light breaks into your dark places, friends. So glad you’re here.
Watching Nature, Seeing Life: Through His Creation, God Speaks