In today’s first reading, Job 3: 1-3, 11-17, 2023, Job curses the day that he was born. Sunk into a deep depression caused by the loss of everything—his children and his property—Job is so distraught that death seems to be the only solution to his indescribable pain. “Why did I not perish at birth,” He asks the Lord. “Why is…life [given] to the bitter in spirit? They wait for death and it comes not; they search for it rather than for hidden treasures, rejoice in it exultingly and are glad when they reach the grave: those whose path is hidden from them, and whom God has hemmed in!” Depression can be so painful that death seems like the only out. In my deepest pain, I have said: “Lord, I understand why some people consider suicide.” Job was at that point.
Both Job and the psalmist, in today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 88, teach us how to bare our souls to the Lord when we are in the pit of desolation:
Let my prayer come before you;
Incline your ear to my call for help.
For my soul is surfeited with troubles
And my life draws near to the nether world.
I am numbered with those who go down into the pit;
I am a man [a woman, a young girl/boy] without strength.
My couch is among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
…who are cut off from your care.
You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit,
Into the dark abyss....
When we are in such darkness, it is important not to minimize it. Others may do that in hopes of making us feel better. The fact is we are in pain. That is what needs to be expressed in agonizing prayer (the way Jesus talked to His Father in Gethsemane). It also needs to be talked about with someone who is supportive and loving and doesn’t need to “fix” it. Sometimes all the other can do is hold our hand. I read a book recently of a man suffering a serious situational depression. Besides seeing a professional counselor, what most helped him was the person who visited him daily and simply, with his permission, massaged his feet--that connection was the only connection he felt. The friend remained silent as he lovingly did the foot massage. He did not offer meaningless platitudes. He was supportive, as Mary was beneath the cross of Jesus, where she shared her Son’s powerlessness.