What Spiritual Depression Taught Me About Worship
In that moment of worship in sadness, you are experiencing some of what Christ felt. He knew He needed to march toward His death because it was worth it. And the joy of bringing many sons to glory overshadowed the pain of the cross upon His scoured back. So it is with us. When we do not feel like worshipping because we are depressed, we worship anyway, knowing that this difficult road will one day result in glory. But what is more, we worship because Jesus walked that road, and He is walking it with us right now.
One of the most profound spiritual moments in my life came when I was most spiritually depressed. I was in college and found myself in a serious spiritual search. I was a Christian at a Christian college, studying the Bible, and I had entered the midst of the Charismatic Movement. I was regularly with friends who saw visions, prayed for and received healings, were “slain in the Spirit,” and even prayed that pennies would stick to their dormitory walls, and apparently, they did. We even went to see a man that claimed he could transport “in his Spirit” to the Garden of Eden. He was spiritually teleporting. Even then, I was highly skeptical of much of this and have even greater concerns today. However, I have had many moments where I felt incredibly close to God as if I was in the same room with Jesus. I was not too concerned with getting pennies to stick to walls or seeing the Garden of Eden, but I wanted more of Jesus. I wanted to experience Him radically, really, tangibly.
One night, I was at a charismatic event. There were about 50 of us, all wanting to experience God (with rather different conceptions of what that might look like). As Charismatic worship goes, I was in the front of the room, on my knees, singing. I was also begging God, raising my hand in a fist, making a motion like I was knocking on a door, asking the Lord to “let me in” to where He is. This moment was the culmination of months of seeking God and feeling like I was getting nowhere: no vision, no voice, no ecstatic feeling, not even a gravity-defying penny. I did not have a red cent to my spiritual name. Nothing.
During the worship, I got up, left the room, and sat in the entry area, crying. I honestly confessed my heart to the Lord: “God, I feel like I have been doing everything you want, but you are not holding up your end of the deal. Why are you so far off? If you love me, and you are my Father, where are you?”
Immediately, this Psalm came to mind: “For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground” (Ps. 44:25). I thought, “this is exactly how I feel.” Then, I imagined myself lying face down in the dirt. It was a picture that seemed to capture the apex of spiritual depression. It does not get much lower than on the ground, face down, and in the dirt. That is where I was spiritually.
Then, as I imagined myself in this position, I thought of myself raising my hands, palms upward, over my head, as my face was in the mud, worshipping God. Suddenly, my chest began to swell.