I get up and watch my children get ready for school. Sometimes I help, but mostly it is my wife that does the heavy lifting in the mornings.
The house is silent. The children are at school and I am still in my bathrobe, drinking coffee, listening to Bach, and contemplating the fact that I am still here. I am still here, a son, a husband, a father, a pastor serving Christ’s Church in California.
Nine years ago today (Good Friday) I was ready to die. My depression had gotten the best of me. My insurance company called to tell me that I was “all better,” and that they were taking me off of disability, effective two weeks prior. It sent me into a tailspin that took months to recover from. I’m not sure if I have recovered even yet.
The day was a blur nine years ago, slogging through molasses, contemplating how to kill myself while I preached our Lord’s death for the sins of the world. But I did not kill myself. Things changed.
He used people, sinners waiting to die like me, and through them, He kept me alive. My pastor, my counselor, and most importantly, my wife and my children. They kept me alive so that I lived another day. They kept me alive, in part so that maybe, maybe, I could help someone else off of the ledge like they did for me.
In the darkness of depression and sorrow and uncertainty, hear this: things change. Don’t believe the lie that your heart would tell you, that things are bad and can only get worse. They may get worse for a time, that is true. But on this, the darkest day in the history of the world, things changed. Life began anew out of death. And so it will be for you. Doctors, counselors, pastors, family, friends, even the Internet stranger can be God’s instrument for bringing life and healing to you.
In God, my faithful God,
I trust when dark my road;
Great woes may overtake me,
Yet He will not forsake me.
My troubles He can alter;
His hand lets nothing falter. (Lutheran Service Book 743:1)
Good Friday isn’t about religious piety, pithy sayings and quotes from the Bible that make you feel bad and yet strangely self-righteous that you somehow remembered. Good Friday is about one Man who reached out and took the place of every man, woman, and child. Because He said yes to our Father’s will, we know that things change. There is hope, and life, and a bright future, even when your life is dark and full of sorrow. Things change.
Thanks be to God.
Todd A. Peperkorn is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, California. He is the author of the book, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression. He is also the co-host of the podcast, The Crux of the Matter.