We all need help getting through a dark period of life

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer

Please reread what Schweitzer wrote. It is significant. 

I memorized his thought about 25 years ago. It meant a lot to me then. It means even more to me now because I’ve experienced both sides of the equation—one whose inner fire has gone out and one who helps another person whose fire has been extinguished.

There was a time when my inner fire went out. For about six months in my mid-forties, I became clinically depressed. I thought my life was over. I was bewildered and hopeless. My wife and two daughters helped me through the darkness. Antidepressants also helped.

For the past five years, I’ve helped a friend whose “inner fire” went out. Over the course of about 10 years his life slowly but inexorably ground to a stop. He became hopelessly adrift. Unemployed, bankrupt, destitute, undiagnosed mental illness, legal problems, and finally homeless. 

In my heart I made a commitment to come alongside him and help. It’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. At times I’ve wanted to give up, as has he.

But now his “inner spirit has been rekindled.” He still has a long way to go, but he’s on track and every day is a step in the right direction. My friend has been incredibly courageous and determined in his recovery. Few people have overcome so many major and persistent obstacles as he has.  

I think my part in assisting his comeback will be one of the finest and proudest endeavors of my life. 

At some point in your life, your inner fire will go out. Pray that someone will be there to help you.

At one or several times in your life, you’ll be compelled to help someone else whose fire has been extinguished. You can’t commit to help everyone who is needful, but you can do it once or twice in your life. 

Granted, it usually takes a “village” to help someone get out of a deep pit, but one person needs to lead the effort. One person must say, “I’m going to take hold of my friend and not let go.” 

20 Replies to “We all need help getting through a dark period of life”

  1. It takes a lot of godly courage for a man to admit to deep depression. Though of a Melancholy temperament, I have never “hit the bottom of that black hole of depression.” I praise God for lifting me up and keeping me free from that kind of pain. I would be there in a heartbeat for Anyone who was going through that. Praise Jesus for the things He does for us, and the unknown He protects us from. Just ask when you are that terrible hard place , God will bring someone.

    1. Thanks, Kay, for taking the time to write. Depression is a dark place; when there, we must have people who will help us. Take care, Don.

  2. Thank you Don. I am working through one of those “dark” periods and am so thankful for friends to come alongside. One in particular. God designed us for fellowship; with Him and with others. So often all we want to do is withdraw. Thank GOD for those who refused to let me go.

    1. Paul, I’m so sorry to hear that you are in a dark place. It will not last. I’m glad you have friends who can help you through. Don

  3. Don,
    Thank you for sharing your experience through difficult times. So often, we overlook the suffering of others, even though we have known similar struggles. What a blessing to see God’s gracious hand at work, once we reveal our own vulnerabilities.

    1. Mark, thanks for taking the time to write. Difficult times seems to be a common denominator of life, so it’s good to have close companions who will walk with us. Take care. Don

  4. That was insightful, real, and encouraging. And I think it showed the importance of truly helping other people.

    I credit Christ with my positive attitude at year 16 of MS that only gets harder every year. Earlier, I could push on through denial: pretty hard to do that now. I’ve pushed through pain for some time, but weakness is a whole different matter.

    I’m grateful to a few (my husband in particular) who consistently help and to a few who care enough to reach out, treat me like a real person, or just talk. I like being a regular person.

    At a certain point, we all realize how very short life really is and what’s the most important in it. To truly care.

    Christ is the ultimate light who inspires us to shine inside and also outwardly to help others, too.

    Years ago, I used to figure skate. At a very young age, knowing that even if there was just one person in the audience (easier with a full house), it was up to me to give it my all because that person mattered. Same concept today: an impact on even one can be huge and important.

    1. Thanks, Jan, for sharing about your struggles with MS. I’m so sorry. You’re very courageous, facing each day with optimism and hope. I’m glad your husband is there for you. Take care, Don.

      1. Thank you, Don, and to be transparent, while I indeed am typically positive, I do also have times of frustration: the human condition!

  5. Yes, I have lots of good memories from those days. Phil and I and the kids are doing well. And Dad is still living. He just survived covid at age 90! It’s taking some time to get his strength back but he’s back in his independent living apartment. Amazing! Remember when you and he did evangelism training together? Brother Tom has been preaching at Eastwood during our interim. It has been so good to hear him again.

    1. Thanks for the update. Your dad is amazing. Tell Tom hello for me. Mary and I have been back in Dallas for about 27 years. Lauren is married and has two kids. Sarah is living with us and doing well. I’ve been at Stonebriar Community Church for 14 years. We are grateful.

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