Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon — from Mount Mizar.
Psalm 42:5–6 (NIV)
The screaming and crying are high-pitched and unbearable. I don’t understand why my baby has regressed. Why isn’t she going to sleep as easily as before? Is it teething? A growth spurt? A nightmare? Instead of the twelve hours of quiet and rest I used to get, now every night I sit in the hallway outside her closed door, listening to her wail and waiting for her to go back to sleep. My stubbornness and rigidity to stick to the schedule keeps me from going in, but my new-mother heart keeps me seated, unbudging.
I clench my teeth and pound my fists on my thighs. I cover my ears and rock back and forth. I pull my hair. I want it to end. I want to be able to sleep without interruption or worry that she’ll wake up her daddy, who works the swing shift and is barely getting sleep as it is. I want her to get the rest she needs because she’s just a baby. I throw my whys and hows at God, demanding answers and getting silence.
Eventually, the crying mercifully ends, and I leave my post in the hallway. I trudge downstairs, my legs heavy. My eyelids too. But my heart is still racing, and my ears ring even in the quiet. I feel the threads of my sanity unraveling, and I feel imprisoned by despair, by the lack of reprieve, by this part of mothering.
My husband is working. I’m alone. And the thoughts begin:
I just want to sleep — is that too much to ask?
I wish I could disappear into a void where no one needs me.
I want to disappear.
I need to disappear.
I sink deeper and start to wonder how I can do this in the most considerate way, with the least amount of cleanup for my husband when he finds me. Falling asleep in the car with the engine running in the garage sounds enticing, doable.
But as I realize how far I’ve come in my suicidal ideation, I scare myself. My heart beats in my ears as I pick up the phone and send out a mass text in the middle of the night to friends near and far:
Please pray for me. I’m having suicidal thoughts.
Typing out the words brings a flood of shame. The critic is loud in my head, telling me I should be embarrassed, that I hadn’t gone far enough to warrant a call for help. But with each text that comes through from friends saying they’re praying for me, light and fresh air enter the darkness—I’m not alone.
When we’re deep in depression, overwhelmed with life, or stuck in impossible situations, hope feels like wishful thinking. In Psalm 42:5–6, the psalmist urges his soul to hope in God. He’s not chiding himself to feel hope right there in the depths of his despair. He’s saying, “One day — someday — I will praise God again, so soul, hope in Him.” He’s looking to a future deliverance, and he’s certain that God will see to it.
In the meantime, he remembers God from his place of despair. We have the whole of history to look back on and see how God has been faithful. Recounting the truths He’s spoken to us and the ways His presence carried us makes hope substantial. And God Himself understands darkness and death. Christ experienced it in His body on the cross, and so our hope in Him is not like a thin silver lining. Instead, it’s like a thick rope thrown down to lift us out of the pit—to take another step and live another day.
God, thank You for understanding despair and for not being afraid of death. You enter into the darkness and sit with me instead of scolding me and forcing me toward the light. You are gentle in Your care, and You provide a way out — even if it’s not in my timing or in a way I can fathom. Help me to have the long view of “someday” to make me resilient when I can’t see beyond my pain. Amen.
This article was written by Grace P. Cho, as published in Empowered: More of Him for All of You.
Empowered: More of Him for All of You, by Mary Carver, Grace P. Cho, and Anna E. Rendell is designed to incorporate the five major components of our being — physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual. The sixty Scripture passages and devotions invite you to see from different angles how God empowers us, and each day ends with prayer and reflection questions to deepen the learning. Grab a copy now. We pray it blesses you.Leave a Comment
Beth Williams says
This so resonated with me today. Sometimes at work I feel like “I wish I could disappear into a void where no one needs me”. I work as ICU clerical & have 28 patients, 14 RNs, CNAs & management that need me for things all the while trying to stock up those rooms. Then come the holidays that get me a bit depressed with all the “family” stuff & the darkness coming so soon in the day.
My hubby has an even more stressful hospital job. It’s hard not to become depressed or down this time of year. Like you I’ve sent out prayers for us. My pastor’s wife prays for me each Friday & sends me a nice text. I know some friends are praying for us also. That feels so good to know you aren’t alone in this journey.
Ariel Krienke says
Thank you so dearly. I needed this message right now. I’m feeling all alone with no friends and my husband pushing me away facing demons. But I know the Lord God is with me. Your words brought such loving encouragement that gets me know I’m not alone even when it feels like it. God’s timing not my own. Thank you again
You’re never alone, Ariel! Sending love, prayers and hugs to you my friend ❤️
Toni L says
Oh Grace, my heart goes out to you. Having mothered an infant who fought going to sleep and having struggled with thoughts of suicide that I never shared with anyone because I needed privacy to heal, I understand your pain and exhaustion. I remember thinking “There ain’t no tired like new mama tired.” Having an infant who won’t sleep can be overwhelming. I want to describe my first nativity scene. Instead of being swaddled and lying in the manger, the Christ Child is securely held in the comforting embrace of the Blessed Mother. Your infant’s brain is not developed enough to understand the healthy discipline of a dependable routine. Your baby knows only distress, and needs to be reassured that someone will respond to his? her? needs, just as you needed to know that God sees you, hears you, and responds lovingly to your despair. Please, pick up your child when it cries. You will both be comforted by the physical contact, and sleep will come sooner for both of you. I’m praying that you find peace, rest, and enjoy silent nights.
When those dark days come, and yes, even after all this time, they still come, what keeps me going is a promise I made to my father: Call me if you ever feel that way again. This conversation happened about 20 years after I ended up in the hospital. I shouldn’t have loved, but by the grace of God I did. My earthly father is gone now and I can’t call him anymore but I can call out to my Father in heaven. And when I need to, I pick up the phone and call a friend. I plan on keeping the promise I made. Having those lifelines is so important, especially during the holidays. Thank you for writing from such a vulnerable place.
Oh Grace – many years ago I was in a similar place with a new born who was colicky and both of us didn’t sleep much. Little to no help from husband and no family around. It became a dark, despairing place. It wasn’t just post partum depression, but the illumination of anxiety and depression that hounded me in school and I didn’t know. A very personally challenging time. Thankfully with medication, which continues to this day (late 60s) and prayer, slowly the darkness receded. Thank you for being so brave and vulnerable.
Oh Grace! If only someone could have swooped in and given you respite! But lots of “someones ” did! And the great I Am took care of you. And your babe.
Carol Louise Gonzalez says
I wish I could disappear sometimes too. In my case it is because people rely on me and sometimes I wonder who do I go to when I need someone? But God allows me to feel a bit of anger and despair and then lightens my mood again so the things that need to get done, get done.
I too have been in this same spot,wanting to disappear. Suicidal thoughts of ways I could do it to look like an accident. The brokenness in my family that is caused by past sin is overwhelming. It’s been hanging over our family like a black cloud for years. My counselor is the only person I can talk to about it. Thank God I have her. Please pray for the brokenness to be healed some day before it’s too late.
Praying for you, friend. Please know God hears you and he loves you. He offers us forgiveness and compassion. Praying for his healing and loving touch over you and your family. Our God is greater than all and He will bring you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Love you ❤️
Thank you dear Stephanie, Nead some light soon
“And God Himself understands darkness and death. Christ experienced it in His body on the cross, and so our hope in Him is not like a thin silver lining. Instead, it’s like a thick rope thrown down to lift us out of the pit—to take another step and live another day.” Amen! Thank you for sharing, Grace. I too have felt this way in the past and I am so grateful to my sweet Jesus for pulling me out of the darkness, taking away every evil thought, and bringing me into his marvelous light! God bless you, friend ❤️
Grace, my heart goes out to you, I am praying for you and your family, thank you so much for sharing I felt the same way but with God all things is possible.