Hollering or whimpering

Did I know what I needed? Not really. I could neither holler nor whimper. Heather Kopp wrote on her blog a couple weeks ago about the blahs she was experiencing. As she wrote about needing help, she related it to Jesus’ question to the blind man in Luke 18:35-43, and specifically v. 41:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Then Heather comments.

In the past I’ve been taught that Jesus asks his question because not everyone who’s sick or disabled wants to be made well. Didn’t you know—maybe you’ve heard this too—that some would rather suffer than take responsibility for their lives?

I used to think that. But these days, I’m more inclined to believe that if a really sick person doesn’t want to get well, that’s a good indication that they’re far too sick to know what they want.

Which isn’t a bad laymen’s definition for active alcoholism, or for that matter, clinical depression.


The highlighted portion really struck me. At first her assessment seems too strong, too judgmental, too cruel? But after further reflecting on this and my own experiences with depression, I tend to agree with her. I know that at the very worst of my depression 15 years ago, I was so depressed I really did not know what I wanted. I knew something was wrong, horribly wrong, but that was all. I wanted something different than what I was experiencing, but couldn’t even put that into words.

Heather continues:

All he did was holler bloody murder for the one thing Jesus never denied a single person or ever will.


I couldn’t holler (yep, grew up on a farm and knew the meaning of that word!), not when I was depressed. At best I could mumble something close to desperation, nothing more, and sometimes less. But the reality is that Jesus was listening, is listening.

So, whether it is a holler at the top of your lungs, or a gasp of the breath, speak to Jesus. Even if it doesn’t make sense. How many prayers really make sense when they express the inner turmoil, hurt, desperation of the heart?

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:13-15 NAS)

Even when I could not articulate it well, that was my confidence. This is my confidence today.


Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

3 thoughts on “Hollering or whimpering”

  1. When I had Daniel’s intensely traumatic birth 4 years ago, I honestly couldn’t pray because I was so gobsmacked by everything that was going on around me. My mom later told me that there wasn’t even a question of whether or not I had postpartum depression — it was just a question of how bad it was. During that time, I relied really heavily on Romans 8:26-27:

    In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

    My prayers were frequently along the lines of “Lord, hear the prayers of my heart because I don’t have the words to pray.” It got me through that hellish week and through the next three weeks of going back and forth to Great Falls to see Daniel until I could actually pray and express the things on my heart verbally.


    1. Thanks for the reply, Jen. After I wrote I was thinking about that Romans 8 text. Glad you referenced it. And yes, your week sounds exactly like what it means that God knows even when we can’t speak or even look upward.

      Blessings to you, Jen.


  2. Hi Rich, I just wanted to chime in on your various posts dealing with depression. I too experienced a major depression, beginning in 1997 and into 1998. It was the most horrible experience of my entire life. During that time, others did not understand what I was going through. While other physical issues are more obvious, mental health issues simply aren’t as tangible, and I found that others did not understand it, which simply added to my pain, because I internalized it even more. Like you commented, I did not know what I wanted to do, and could not make a decision on anything. A turning point for me was the constancy of a gentleman in my life who gently, but continuously, challenged me to trust God through it.

    In the years since that experience, and in gaining more counseling experience, I am not opposed to medication for anxiety or depression. Too often, when we think of the effects of sin on the world that we live in, we do not fully consider the pervasive effects that sin has, even, on our physical bodies. So while we treat other medical issues with medication, we reject treating mental health issues with it. Why do we resist treating depression or anxiety with medication? In my counseling experience, I have found that, quite often, until the person is on medication, the talk-therapy was not effective. In hindsight, I probably could have been helped by medication during my depression. Just some slightly random reflections… Chris


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