Christmas for those with depression.
Christmas is often a difficult time for those with depression or who feel depressed and hopeless. A time of year when everyone is expected to feel happy, to be happy to have fun. A time when families come together and share food and gifts and that creates a lot of pressure and makes it difficult to relax and enjoy the season.
owever the Christmas story is not all jovial and light hearted. Mary is told that ‘Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too”’ (Luke 2:34-34). Mary’s heart would be torn with sorrow watching her only Son die the most agonising of deaths. The crucifixion is a sign of hopelessness that all joy had gone, the cross represents the end of life as it was known and a deep mourning even within the heart of God. That is the hope of the gospel- not only that there is resurrection but that God knows pain and is with us.
The Christmas story invites us to see a God who burst into the squalor a stable, the despair of a marriage that looked like it could have fallen apart. Imagine how Mary felt by the fact that ‘And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly’ (Matthew 1:19). The pain of not being believed and of being misunderstood must have sent her to the pits of despair. She would have been judged by many in society. Imagine how betrayed Joseph must have initially felt, wondering how his wife could have had an affair. Imagine knowing your child was wanted by King Herod and would be killed if you didn’t escape or being King Herod worrying that your position could be lost by the birth of a new king.
The gospel is one of liberation. Yes Christmas is a day that is joyful and that can be difficult but its real meaning is that the world was liberated through it. God has come to our world and entered our reality. The incarnation shows us that when we are depressed God is with us. Depression is a hard road to walk along, it feels like you are alone but the truth is we have a risen Lord who is always with us, standing by us and loves us exactly as we are. He loved us so much he became a baby of the poorest kind and grew up to be crucified to demonstrate the love that God has for the world.
This Christmas remember the joy of Christmas is deeper than happiness or enjoying presents but is about having the hope that God loves you and sent His only Son to die for you. That peace can transcend how we feel and be assured that there are people who pray for you and love you all the time. The pain and loneliness we feel we suffer from depression is tough but God offers us light in the darkness.