Hence My Eyes are Turned Toward You
Confronting Depression with Faith and The Prayer of Jehoshaphat
Perfect Bound Softcover
During the winter of 2001-02, something provoked the "roaring lion" of depression inside me. I probably never will know for certain what triggered the disease.
What I do know is the life that has unfolded these last seven years -- a life with major, chronic depression as a constant companion -- has been much different than I ever would have designed for myself and my family.
To call it a learning experience would be understating that life. Depression is powerfully real. It can be scary, life-threatening, relentless.
As you will read in "Hence My Eyes," all of that and more have been the reality in our home. I wish I never would have had to put my wife, children, family and friends through all the fear, worry and tears.
Still ... dare I say ...
You will read that there actually are times when I feel grateful for the experience.
Everyone, including those who have to experience the roaring lion’s presence inside themselves every day, can meet God in a newer, deeper, more fulfilling way.
By the grace of God, I have learned that – in part through the biblical tale of Jehoshaphat, who has become a friend, a role model of sorts, a prayer partner. In discovering his prayer, I have learned to say it with him. And I say it with him, I think, in a personal and cooperative way that makes managing a life with depression hopeful and possible.
Maybe you suffer from depression or love someone who does. Or perhaps you have gone through something else similarly arduous and stressful, even jeopardizing your very life itself. Whatever the case, I hope my experience with depression and the Prayer of Jehoshaphat can help carry you to a better place.
Chapter One: MEET A GUY NAMED JEHOSHAPHAT
From the moment of my diagnosis with depression, I prayed as I always had prayed.
Jesus had been a real presence in my life through high school and college graduations, in my marriage and the parenting of four children. My faith sincerely affected the way I did my work, first for 23 years as a sportswriter and then into a new career of investments and financial advising. And it influenced my free time, which if not spent with my family often was given to prayer and service for my church.
True, I wondered for a while how God could let this ghastly thing happen to me, but I realized it could have been worse and prayed for the disease to pass. Initially, the depression was mild – though more than mildly annoying – as I also tried to deal with moving into a new house and a new career, watching my children grow into feeling they needed me less and then worshiping in a new parish after attending one church for almost 40 years.
As mild depression gradually morphed into major depression, all of those changes felt magnified. Life became very difficult. What once had seemed and felt so good, if still less than perfect, now felt impossible.
Somewhere in there, I encountered Jehoshaphat.
I had read the story before and was familiar with the plotline. But never before had his prayer in front of his people so resonated with me. Despite his knuckleheaded mistakes, Jehoshaphat basically had been a good guy. In 2 Chronicles 17, it says, “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, for he walked in the ways his father had pursued in the beginning.” Even when the prophet Jehu rebuked Jehoshaphat two chapters later, Jehu said some good things were found in him because he had been “determined to seek God.”
Yet in the face of impending invasion, the humbled king of Judah stood hopeless and despondent in front of thousands of folks.
From the age of 10, Mike Eisenbath knew he wanted to be a professional writer – specifically, a newspaper sportswriter covering the St. Louis Cardinals major-league baseball team for his hometown St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Through 2001, Mike had compiled 18 years as an award-winning writer with the Post. He had covered numerous sports, including baseball for more than a decade. His book "The Cardinals Encyclopedia" remains the most comprehensive history written about the team.
A few months later, Mike had quit his dream job. Though he left the newspaper business for solid reasons – too much time away from the family, an uncertain future for the Post – he didn't give the job change as much consideration as he otherwise would have.
Much of that decision came as a result of Mike's major, chronic depression. Since being diagnosed with the disease that winter, Mike has learned more about depression than he ever would have imagined. He has tried nearly every antidepressant. There have been hospital stays, hours in therapy and many alternatives. Some have worked a little, most not at all.
That he still is around and managing to operate through life most days owes to God and Mike's faith, as well as an incredibly supportive group of family and friends, some medication and therapy.
The battle continues, with some days better and some much worse.
Mike and his wife, Donna, live in St. Charles, Mo. They have four children, ranging in age from 18 to 23, and a grandchild born in May 2008. Mike works as a supervisor of financial advisors; Donna works in youth ministry. They stay busy with a variety of activities, including Christian retreats, and are exploring a ministry involving depression patients and their families.
For more information about them, check out http://www.eisenbath.com/.
Perfect Bound Softcover