I’m gonna start this meditation off with an excerpt of Hamlet’s soliloquy from Act 1, Scene 2 of the play.
“O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!”
When you feel despair or depression, it’s not just a sad feeling. It’s a sense of hopelessness, the kind that Hamlet expresses here and the kind that Tobit and Sarah express in their longing for death. One of my favorite musicals describes despair as “the moments when you’re in so deep, it feels easier to just swim down.”
Despair feels exactly like drowning. You get pulled by all these negative thoughts that you can’t stop no matter how hard you try and nothing you do can get these thoughts out of your mind. Some people feel like it’s easier to just let those thoughts take over and give into the desire of suicide. In fact in today’s passage, Sarah contemplates hanging herself, but chooses not to in order to preserve her father’s reputation.
This isn’t an easy thing to talk about, sisters in Christ. You probably know someone who has gone through this kind of despair or have experienced this yourself. The first thing to do when you or someone you know feel like drowning is to call for help. For me, it started with prayer, which eventually led to me going on retreats and volunteering. I’m not just saying that you can pray away depression or anxiety, but finding a way to ground yourself back into reality is the first step to getting out of despair’s undertow. Some people go through counseling or call up a crisis hotline in times of need. The point is there are ways for those in despair to find help.
If you or someone you know is feeling that pull of despair, reflect on these passages and know that you are not alone in how you feel. Jesus cried out the words from Psalm 22 when he was on the cross and Peter lost sight of Jesus when he tried walking on water in the middle of a thunderstorm. We may feel like we are drowning during our moments of despair, but our lifeguard has the ability to walk on water and knows what it’s like to drown in sorrow.
Things won’t get better overnight. Getting out of despair, anxiety, and depression is a process. Just know that it does get better.
STUDY QUESTIONS: Think of times when you experienced despair? Have you completely healed from it or do you still feel the emotional scars? Why do you think people have such a hard time dealing with heavy emotions such as despair and sorrow?