The Double-Edged Sword

St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon. What do they have in common? They are all titans in Christian history? Yes. They all agreed on the sovereignty of God in salivation? Yes. They all have had lasting influence on the doctrines and practices of the Christian faith? Yes. They all have books still in print? Yes. But there are two other things that they share in common. Each of these men were big on grace and mercy and compassion and each of these men suffered from deep depression.

Oftentimes our weaknesses and our strengths are the one and the same, each being one side of a double-edged sword. When swung in a positive direction you get deep insight into the human heart—its pains, hurts, sorrows, and needs that drive you to identify with the suffering of others in meekness and humility, to respond to them with mercy and compassion, and to tell them about the grace, mercy, and love of God in Jesus Christ. When swung in negative direction the same characteristics drive us introspectively into ourselves and lead us into depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

This has been at the center of my thoughts about Anna. She is so naturally empathetic, compassionate, helpful, and kind. But the very same things about her that produce these good things, also make her prone to anxiety and depression. As we work to help her through this, it is important to me that we do not break her spirit in the process.

I am confident that such will be the outcome of this. She continues to do well, has a great spirit, and has been very brave. Today, my parents are going to see her. I will have to be content with a phone call tonight. But I will see her tomorrow. The support, prayer, and encouragement we have received has been life-giving. My family, our church, and our world need more people with her gifts.


  1. Right on, Dan! I’ve used another analogy to express the same thing: her natural empathetic, compassionate, helpful, and kind ways are traits. They are morally neutral. They can be invested positively or negatively. This analogy adds the element of choice.


  2. Right on. People /the world / I don’t often see weaknesses as assets, but as things to cover up, deny, or desperately try to overcompensate for. I sometimes start to believe the lie that says I can’t be good enough, can’t serve God well, can’t relax, or can’t be free until my illnesses are gone. Not true. Mentally healthy and spiritually healthy are not the same, even though they often have strong influence on each other. Even during his earthly ministry, we see sick, broken, thirsty, partially – healed, messed- up, needy, and infamously sinful people following Jesus. It’s the internal healing of grace and salvation that was God’s top priority in Jesus – not necessarily to give us cushy struggle – free lives. He calls us to admit our need for him so we can accept his fulfillment and freedom. Over the years, especially when I look back at my life as “the girl who always cries,” I’ve seen plenty of good come out of my struggles. I’ve seen enough that I remember praying a few years ago and thinking that if i never see any more miracles or life -changing moments of God’s glory I’d be ok. I’ve seen enough to tide me over. Thankfully, though, God knows me too well, and continues to show off /cheer me up with glimpses into the bigger story when I need some help. He’ll do the same for Anna. Now it’s time to endure and trust. Good stuff is coming soon.


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