Like Water Spilled on the Ground


“. . . like water spilled on the ground.”

“My strength is gone, gone like water spilled on the ground.” (Psalm 22:14)

I saw this old water pump as I pulled into a driveway to make a home visit last week.  With all the news of a major drought in the west, the pump reminded me of a conversation I had with a national park ranger in Arizona a few years ago.  Patti and I were visiting a national park that focused around an ancient native American settlement right smack dab in the middle of the desert.  While touring the long-abandoned village I asked the ranger, “Why did these folks build a village right in the middle of the desert?”  The ranger responded, “Well, you have to understand.  When this settlement was constructed you could dig a well twelve feet deep and have all the water you needed.  Today you’d have to dig the same well around one hundred feet to get water.  The water table has been depleted that much since then and now.”  Where once there was water and life, now was only sand and death.

Strangely enough, the pump came back into focus for this week’s Wednesday Wonderings after the death of Robin Williams.  His death from an apparent suicide has really rocked our country.  I can tell by the reactions I’ve seen on the news and in various social media that this life and death have really shaken us.  It has stunned us all and caused many to wonder, “How in the world can someone with so much talent and success, someone with so much to live for, reach a point in their lives that they make the decision to end their own life?”  The answer lies in the mysterious machinations of one of the most dangerous but misunderstood illnesses we face today – depression. 

One of the difficulties we face in fighting clinical depression lies in the confusion created by the use of the word depressionAll of us feel depressed from time to time.  All of us feel sadness as well.  Both are normal human emotions that generally last for a few days and often respond to the coping mechanisms we might employ in difficult times.  However, clinical depression is not the same.  Those who suffer from it are fighting a medical illness that results in a disruption of normal brain chemistry.  The symptoms can last for days, weeks, months, or years and vary from anger to sadness, loss of interest, and many others – including suicidal thoughts.  We use the same word, depression, to describe the normal feelings we all experience as well as the medical illness.  Too often times we assume that the person suffering from clinical depression is really experiencing the same feelings of depression most of us encounter from time to time, so we are perplexed as to why those suffering from clinical depression don’t just snap out of it like the rest of us generally do when we’re feeling depressed.  When we offer suggestions for what has helped us when we’ve felt depressed to the clinically depressed person, only to find our suggestions don’t work, we can quickly assume that: 1) They’re not really trying hard enough; 2) They just want to feel that way – maybe so they get more attention; 3) They don’t have enough faith or don’t pray hard enough; or 4)_____________________ .  Unless the clinically depressed person realizes they’re fighting an illness and not simply normal depression, they may walk away feeling worse – even more like a loser or failure.  Clinical depression needs more help than our normal depression.

It takes a lot of work and energy to fight through clinical depression, most often when the clinically depressed person already feels like they have very little energy.  As a matter of fact, they often feel just like the psalmist when they wrote,
“My strength is gone, gone like water spilled on the ground.”  I guess it reminds me of the sinking water table in Arizona.  Sometimes the clinically depressed person has to dig deeper and deeper to find the energy to keep going, and sometimes it must feel like the energy is just out of reach – so why bother to keep digging.  In those moments the depression distorts the sufferer’s thoughts so they wind up believing they’ll never be able to reach the life-sustaining water.  The depression can become that powerful.  To make things even worse, all of this pondering is done in secret. 

However, in the face of all of this I have one more thought to offer:  There is HOPE!  Even if you continue to read Psalm 22 you’ll hear the words of hope.  The psalmist pours out his hurt and pain before God, but in the process also comes to the realization that even though it hurts today, that pain does not dictate nor command the future.  Only God commands the future, and God promises hope in one form or another, even when hope seems impossible.  There is HOPE.  It always comes as a devastating shock when we hear that someone has completed suicide, especially one so public and beloved as Robin Williams. However, for every suicide we hear about, there are many, many, many, many, many, many more suicides that are averted because the depressed person found the needed help and healing before isolating themselves with their distorted, depressed thinking and acting on their hopelessness. 

If you feel like you might be suffering from depression, or if you know someone who you feel might be suffering from depression, then the first step is to talk about it.  Break the bonds of secrecy.  Talk about it with God in prayer, talk about it with a spouse or friend, talk about it with your medical doctor, talk about it with a mental health specialist – and talk about it with that person you’re concerned about even if they don’t mention it to you.  Break the bonds of secrecy!!!!!   There is HOPE!  Talk can lead to help, healing, and hope. 

Given the nature of this week’s wonderings I want to remind all of you that I am available to do free seminars or other presentations on teen depression in schools, colleges, churches, professional gatherings, etc.  I can tailor my talks for either religious or non-religious gatherings.  Patti and I have traveled all over the country offering these seminars and will continue to do so as resources allow. 

I pray that God will help me break the bonds of secrecy that clinical depression seeks to form, and continue to point all toward God’s healing and hope.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit
My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”
Teen Depression & Suicide: Teens Surviving the Storm

~ by revgenelson on August 13, 2014.

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