BLOG: (September 12-18) Isaiah 13-35, "The Lord Shall Give Thee Rest"
Jane Clayson Johnson, an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, spent years battling major depression. Then, she spent years interviewing others who struggle with it and compiling their stories. She wanted to help people understand how widespread depression is, how all-encompassing and debilitating it can be, and how little it has to do with worthiness or strength. In her book, Silent Souls Weeping, Johnson shared her own experience with depression as well as the stories of many other Latter-day Saints who also struggle with this devastating illness. Her book is a must-read for those who suffer from mental illness, those who love them, and any others who care about people in general - this disease is so widespread, chances are that if you don’t know of someone close to you who struggles with depression, you know someone who is suffering in silence and you just aren’t aware of their situation yet.
Johnson shared this about her experience writing Silent Souls Weeping:
As the great Christian theologian and author C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” This undertaking has been replete with those “What! You too?” moments. As I’ve shared my story and listened in return to complete strangers and lifelong friends as they told me theirs, I’ve been humbled, had my heart broken again and again, and discovered hope through the Savior’s Atonement that is brighter and more all-encompassing than I could ever have imagined.
She later quoted Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who said:
I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally ‘free at last.’
I, personally, have never suffered from major depressive disorder, but I have family members and loved ones who have. It is one element of this mortal journey that I would gladly eradicate if I could. But that isn’t up to me. Instead, I have the opportunity and responsibility to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). I can seek to understand. I can trust those I love to the Lord, and know that even if I cannot take their burdens away, He ultimately can and will.
The words of Isaiah remind me that the Lord is intimately aware of all those who suffer, those who mourn, those who weep. He has not forgotten or forsaken them. He is with them, and they can wait on Him with perfect assurance. Isaiah’s prophecies teach us in a beautiful way that we can count on our God to remember us, to deliver us, and to wipe all tears from our eyes.
And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve. (Isaiah 14:3)
For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat. (Isaiah 25:4)
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces…And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:8-9)
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come…he will come and save you. (Isaiah 35:3-4)
Friends, we all carry our own burdens, and there is no way to fully understand the challenges other people face. But we can strengthen each other, reach out to those who are struggling, and hold space for one another as we each walk our own lonely roads. We can take comfort in the words of Isaiah, knowing that someday, all that we have suffered here will be healed and made right. Death will be swallowed up in victory. The Lord will give you rest from your sorrow and your fear. He will “wipe away tears from off all faces.” “He will come and save you.” And until then, He will be with you, every step of the way, whether you can feel Him there or not. I know He is with us. I know He is with you. There is no pain that you could suffer, no trial you could go through, that can keep you from Him.
They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:10)