An Anchor in the Midst of Depression
By Austin Donahoo
While this is not typical of me to write a personal response to the sermon, the Word displayed in Hebrews 10 was such a transformational reminder that I wanted to share how it encouraged me. I felt that it gave me no choice but to give a personal testimony of how the sermon allowed me to withdraw from the daily struggles of life and refocus on Christ’s work as our High Priest in the presence of the Father. As one who has had a consistent struggle battling darkness and depression, this great truth explained in Hebrews reveals how Christ’s work has overpowered the forces of evil in this world and provides hope and true rest. It is an encouragement that in a restless world we can have true peace in the arms of the Savior.
On Sunday, Matt began the sermon by discussing how the Levitical priesthood was not able to obtain perfection. While the Old Covenant was unable to bring final perfection, it was able to reveal the true nature of sin in humanity. This might not appear to be a very uplifting tool for the people of Israel, but it worked to point them towards the One who could redeem them through his perfect obedience and sacrifice on behalf of his people. As I stated earlier, I have struggled with depression for years, and I often worry about the many things of this earth. These are not simply bad days or days that don’t go to plan, but days where I don’t seem to know if there is a way out of darkness. To put it a little more mildly, it is like in the old video games where a character would constantly have a dark and rainy cloud over their heads. This may be relatable to some who will read this. It may seem to you like there isn’t a way out of the darkness, but that is where the beauty of Hebrews 10 reminds us that our anchor is in Christ and not in our ability to withstand or escape suffering. It is why we can still cry out joyfully, “Abba, Father”, and know without fail that Christ has interceded for us in the presence of the Father.
Hebrews 10 gives us several action steps in response to this eternally true reality of Christ’s intercession. The writer says, “…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:22-23, ESV) I can read this in the midst my suffering and darkness and be tempted to scoff at the idea that the writer is presenting. As some people know, it is a lot easier to hold to these truths when everything is going right. But then I remember that this is why God has given us his Spirit. The Spirit of Truth is present even when everything around us appears impossible to withstand and when it is hard to believe that all the promises of God are “Yes!” in Jesus. I am not saying that dealing with difficult situations and realities on this side of eternity is easy. I still struggle moment to moment to rise up and follow the calling of God to spread his truth and live for him. I struggle with depression and the ability to fulfill my responsibilities because of the things I deal with. What I have learned from this beautiful passage, though, is that my calling is not withdraw into myself or my struggles, but always to hold fast to the anchor of our faith, Jesus our Lord.