A Story of a Family That Prayed Through
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)
We don’t need to look very far to observe someone who is suffering. Just this morning while on Facebook, I read the blog of a young mother. She is living each day under the oppression of cancer as she waits for her little boy to die. Her life and home have been consumed by the disease. She mentioned that she glanced into a mirror and noticed how the horror of her sons cancer had overtaken her body as well. Her skin is now wrinkled and worn. Her smile is no longer visible. Suffering has a way of doing that.
My family has also suffered, but the symptoms of my depression were harder to spot. It began as what felt like a tired, bad mood. Sleep began to escape me and anxiety moved in. My life was busy as a mom to four children, so I pushed through. I began to ask God to help me feel normal. My asking turned to begging as time crept by. Each day I felt myself slipping closer and closer to the edge of a black hole. The harder I tried to cling to the edge, it seemed, the deeper I slid. Until one evening, after struggling to fall asleep, I awoke abruptly. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe, my arms and legs shook uncontrollably. I thought for certain that I was dying. I prodded my husband to wake him. “Pray for me!” is all I could get out. And so it began…
Fear that this would happen again kept me from sleep. When exhaustion won over the fear I would doze off, only to be wakened by shaking and shortness of breath. Impending doom consumed me. Night after night my “situation” went from bad to worse. Days became almost as much of a nightmare. Lack of sleep and inability to hold down food made me sick and left me weak. This made the feeling of my impending death only more real. The enemy had been attacking from the beginning, but at this point I felt that he had pulled out all his resources against me. His lies filled all of my thoughts. And then the lies moved from my mind to my heart as I began to believe them. Then they moved on to my lips as I repeated them continuously.
The depression that consumed me quickly began to consume my husband as well. My lack of sleep became his lack of sleep. The lies that filled my mind, however, made it no where with him. When the enemy tried to wreak havoc in me with a new lie, my husband quickly refuted it with the Truth and the Word. For each lie from the enemy, the Lord gave my husband a specific scripture to use against it. Night after night, day after day, as I spoke the lies, my husband spoke the Truth. As I cried and paced, he followed me, quoting the Word! He often prayed aloud over me. He sought the Lord for wisdom on my behalf as to how and what I should do to get well. He sought the counsel of a godly physician, as well as the Great Physician.
I believe the most important thing that my husband did for me was to continue to pray, to continue to press into the Lord for my healing. He knew in his heart that the Lord would hear his cry and heal me. The Lord has blessed me tremendously with a godly husband. He has also blessed our marriage with a oneness that only He can give.
My mother in law recorded many healing scriptures, and together with my husband, they played the recordings for me whenever someone was not available to speak them. Slowly the battle that the enemy was raging in my body and in my head began to turn. Those who love me sought the Lord on my behalf, knowing that I was too weak to do so myself. The enemy who was seeking to devour me had no choice but to retreat when faced with Truth!
When fighting depression from the support side, there were two primary weapons I used: prayer and truth. When I wasn’t directly involved in refuting the lies or providing encouragement, I spent my time in prayer. This is where knowing who you are in Christ and knowing what Gods Word says is so important. Much of my prayer time was while driving to and from work or while lying in bed. I had to know the Word because, as often is the case, there is no time to look up scripture. I laid hands on her in accordance with the Word. Mostly, I was just there for her. When I wasn’t there, I was available and she knew it.
I had a long commute to and from work and when I wasn’t in prayer while driving, I listened to the Scriptures. For me, it was a great way to refresh my scriptural knowledge. Dramatized versions made it easier and more interesting. Zondervan has a good dramatized version that is word for word with the Bible. Also, recruit someone or several people you trust who will intercede for you and your spouse during this time. Agree with them in advance as to how they should pray. It’s important that they actually “pray the Word.” In my case, my mother acted as intercessor and prayed with and for Debbie when I couldn’t be there, spending many hours with her while I was at work.
Be prepared to refute the lies with Truth directly. When the depressed person says things like “I’ll never get better” or “It’ll always be like this” be prepared to say “That’s a lie” and then reply with the truth. Do not allow your feelings to be hurt. My wife was not hurtful to me but don’t be surprised if this occurs. This type of battle will require a lot of time and courage. I was fortunate that I am self employed and had the freedom in my schedule to be there for Debbie.
Another important thing is to prevent the depressed person from withdrawing into darkness. The devil loves the dark and wants to drive us there so we’ll go deeper into it. Exposure to natural light and the company of other family members is important. Try to get the depressed person around family and into as much normal activity as possible. Also, playing Scripture on an ipod or CD is very helpful, especially while sleeping. My mother made a recording of healing scriptures that we listened to again and again. John Hagee Ministries has a wonderful pre-recorded device that plays healing scriptures repeatedly. Truly, Scripture is like a healing balm, so play it and play it some more! Oh, and the enemy HATES it! Remember, Jesus used the Word to fight the devil in the desert.
I’ve likened our depression experience to a battle. There is direct combat when one is refuting the enemy’s lies head on. During such a battle, there are those who are interceding in prayer. I liken this to artillery, harassing the enemy and keeping him off balance while we fight the lies with the truth. When the enemy withdraws we attack him with prayer – Give him no rest! We press in hard with prayer. And we cannot rest until the battle is won. Thank God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
(1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
Mark and Debbie were high school sweethearts. They have been married for 30 years and they have six children and seven grandchildren. Mark runs their inspection & engineering business in Salisbury, MD. Debbie is a stay-at-home mom, she has been free from depression for nine years.