Every morning when you wake up you will groan, “Oh, if only it were evening!” and in the evening you will cry, “Oh, if only it were morning!” (De 28:66-67)
Does that describe you, or perhaps someone you know? Recent surveys suggest that 1 in 6 people will suffer a major depression in their lifetime. Fifty years ago the average age of people suffering from depression was 40; now it has fallen to the mid-20s. Among teen-agers, suicide is one of the most common causes of death; in some areas, it is the second most common cause.
What is the best remedy for depression? How can Christians maintain a life of continual victory? These pages will present some key ideas that can lift people out of the gloomy pit and keep them living in the sunshine of God’s love. You may not need help for yourself; yet there are probably people around you who are hurting. With these keys in your hand, you may be able to help them escape from darkness and come into light.
You may notice the absence of any section in this book dealing with the devil. That is not because I do not recognise his power to destroy human life. I understand full well that he comes, as Jesus said, only “to steal, kill, and destroy” (Jn 10:10). But despite common opinion, Satan is seldom the immediate cause of depression, and I felt he could be safely left out of these pages (apart from an occasional reference here and there.)
If you want to know more about the devil and demons, you should obtain my book on the subject, Demonology. (1) But here I am content to say only this much: the devil certainly does “go around seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pe 5:8-9), so we do need to take him into account. He may not often be the instigator of melancholy, but he and his minions do often try to take advantage of a gloomy state that already exists. Our duty, knowing that Satan can and does attack the saints (Re 13:7), is to resist him steadfastly in faith (Ja 4:7-8), confident of the victory that we have in Christ.
In his essay on the art of poetry Horace once said, “It is difficult to express ordinary ideas in a unique manner.” Yet that is what I have tried to achieve in these pages. You will no doubt make your own judgment about whether or not I have succeeded. I certainly hope at least that you will discover here (even if “few and far between”) some “subtle spells” akin to those described by Henry Kendall (2) in a lovely sonnet. He too had abandoned hope of perfection, and of complete originality. He was content in his latter years (as I am myself) to draw upon universal knowledge, and only occasionally to come delightedly upon scenes of wondrous beauty, which no other eye had before seen –
I proposed once to take my pen and write,
Not songs, like some, tormented and awry
With passion, but a cunning harmony
Of words and music caught from glen and height,
And lucid colours born of woodland light
And shining places where the sea-streams lie.
But this was when the heat of youth glowed white,
And since, I’ve put the faded purpose by.
I have no faultless fruits to offer you
Who read this book; but certain syllables
Herein are borrowed from unfooted dells
And secret hollows dear to noontide dew;
And these at least, though far between and few,
May catch the sense like subtle forest spells.