Psalm 31

by a CCC Member

Psalm 31
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.
(vv. 9–10)

When Emily, Maggie, and I moved to Chapel Hill in August of 2016, we thought everything would be perfect. Dream job, dream location, dream life.

We were wrong.

While we loved living in Chapel Hill, after a few months I began to realize my new job was not what I had hoped. Demands in so many directions, expectations I could not meet, overwork, toxic work relationships, and a lack of the freedom that academia had promised dragged me down into a deep depression. I felt like my work situation would never change, that hope was lost, and worst of all—that nobody cared.

Anyone who has had a depressive episode knows the toll it takes not only on you, but also your family and friends.

Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
    especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
    those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
    I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many -
    terror on every side! -
as they scheme together against me,
    as they plot to take my life.
(vv. 11–13)

Late in 2017 I sought help from Hope Counseling Services. I was introduced to this very Psalm, which has much to say about depression. I began to have a glimmer of hope that I was not stuck, and that I had options. In fact, I began pursuing other jobs and a potential move for our family. This past February was a blur, with trips to three different states in only a few weeks. On a flight back from one of these trips, as I was pondering my family's situation, I believe God spoke to me: "Matthew, you are a good man, and I have good things for you. I will not abandon you and leave you to wallow in this situation. I've got you."

But I trust in you, O LORD;
    I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hand;
(vv. 14–15)

Although I had good visits to other universities, none of them felt quite right. Therefore, Emily and I made the decision to stay in Chapel Hill, and that decision came with enormous peace. In addition to undergoing treatment for depression, we have found great support and love in our community here at CCC, which has been an enormous source of encouragement.

We are coming out the other side of a heavy season, and we are making strides to have better relationships between my work, each other, and our children. We feel much hope resting in the Lord and that he gives good gifts. I know there are others at CCC who are struggling with work environments and careers that have similar difficulties. Remember: God has good things for you and will not leave you to wallow in your pain. He has you.

Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the LORD!
(v. 24)