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EDITOR'S NOTE: This article discusses Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition recognized by the Mayo Clinic. SermonCentral does not take a position on this, or any other psychological conditions. Furthermore, this article is not intended to be and should not be considered medical advice. We simply wish to provide our readers with the cultural information necessary to minister effectively. Given the current state of presciption medication usage in churches, we feel this is an important topic to consider. 

Last winter it seemed like the dark, gloomy, coldness lingered a couple of months too long. Remember? It was awful for someone like me. 

I was absolutely miserable over the seasons lack of ability to change to some type of normalcy. 

This past week, the coolness began to arrive early. Of course, this is just the early onset of our beautiful fall weather. It felt very nice and the seasonal change was definitely welcomed. The bummer about this for me? Impending winter - again. 

Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is something that I have found to be very real in my life. I encounter bouts of depression during the winter months and have to work very hard to keep from sinking deep. It's just part of the cycle. 

The cycle - Its seems to be the same with life, right? Our winters – or the coldest seasons of life – are often prolonged, and fearfully endured. Sometimes it feels that circumstances and emotions won't change. We feel that a new season of life is nothing more than a hopeful encounter. We worry that our emotional, relational, and spiritual cycle just won't turn the corner. We often seem stuck in winter.

The kicker for me? I'm a pastor. And in my neck of the woods, its still taboo to be on "head meds". Every morning, I take Lexipro to help me balance my psychological imbalances. Many people in my church do the same. The difference? I'm the guy who shouldn't need "faith in a bottle." But I do - it comes in 20mg doses, and it works. Every. Time. 

Here's what I have figured out when it comes to SAD or the likes: The cold winter of depression or anxiety isn't forever, because seasons do change. No, not because our pain disappears, but because we have been here before and we made it out. 

I am learning to embrace the worst season - as badly as I do not want to - so that I can whole-heartendly celebrate and savor every new season. Looking back, I can tell you that the hardest, loneliest, coldest, and most depressed season of my life has often produced the greatest fruit in my life. I bet its the same for you, too. 

So today, I just wanted to remind you when you ask the question "why doesn't this change?"  It will. No, it won't disappear. But it will change.

Abide in Him as best as you know how. Remain close to Him as He is the One who causes new seasons to emerge - even in the middle of winter. 

Remember: When God doesn't take us out of the pain, He walks us through it with us.

As a pastor, I get up every morning, open my "little bottle of faith" and believe that I am healed in 20mg doses.  

 

Matt Wade (website: Matt Wade)


Matt is the author of Leader Lies, 10 Truths I Learned as a Liar.  Along with a few other pastors, I get to help lead the vision and mission of Compassion Church, a multi-site organization.  My greatest passion in life is growing the local church and it's leaders. I am also an avid kayak angler and deer hunter.

 

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Michael B

commented on Oct 17, 2016

The church soooo needs to see this and accept it as an actual sickness and support those who suffer from it. I too am a pastor and I too suffer from SAD and worse than suffering from it has been the "guarding" of who knows it due to the very real possibility of losing my position.

Linda Harrelson

commented on Oct 17, 2016

One of the saddest issues I've noticed is how we as believers will extend our hearts to inmates in prison,yet,let a church member(to include the pastor) have any depression,brokenness or sense of family problem,the same people who love strangers will be the most critical and readily with accusations of "There must be sin!" Why? Believers are humans,and get sick. We need an unbiased open conversation about depression and mental health.Maybe if we honestly had unconditional love,we'd envelope those through the pain and "cry with those who cry,and laugh together with those who laugh" The church needs to remember we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.Are we so self-serving that we have forgotten the many prophets in the Bible who openly despaired of life? If we as God's children can't leave the name calling and biased treatment to the world,then why would we honestly think we have anything to offer a broken hearted world outside the church doors when we don't treat one another with the compassion God entrusted with??? I'm not a pastor,just a church member,who was shamed by church members because I saw a psychologist and took medication.

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