It’s OK To Be Down, But We Need the Help of Others

We all suffer, but how we respond is crucial:

As so often happens to me, several things will coalesce at the same time, and – among other things – it results in a new article. So here it is. This is a piece perhaps most folks should relate to. We all go through hard times. We all can get down. We all can despair. That is a normal part of the human condition in a fallen world.

Several general things can be said about all this. One is this: while all pain and suffering is real and unique to the one going through it, we all suffer and hurt, and there is a comparative element to all this. That is, you will always find some people who are suffering more than you and who are going through far worse things than you are. You will also always find some people who seem to be doing much better than you.

The second general point to make is this: how we cope with the difficulties and struggles we are going through is what really matters. There are good and bad ways to cope. One can turn to drug or alcohol addiction as one way to deal with everything. Obviously that is not the way to go. And suicide can be the ultimate way some folks deal with their grief, hurt, anger and despair.

With that in mind, several things just happened. Last night, as can often be the case, I was rather downcast. There is a place for that, but one can easily move into pity-parties which are not very helpful. And even if there is legitimate grief and hurt, one needs to keep perspective.

In my case, even the old thoughts of suicide crept in a bit. I was this way often as a non-Christian. But even as a believer these feelings can sneak in now and then. At such a point you need to think clearly and soberly. We need to see the bigger picture. And it occurred to me that if nothing else, I am needed at least for the coming week!

A family member wants me to look after a pet as they go away for a while. So if I were not here to do this, that would make a difference in the lives of others. Indeed, with my wife of 41 and ½ years now gone – which of course brings its own sorrows and sadness – I do need to be here for the rest of the family. So any thoughts of opting out of life are really selfish and self-centred.

After lots of prayer and thoughts about such things last night, I finally drifted off to sleep. And this morning some more unexpected things happened which helped me to gain some perspective and see things more clearly. One was this: I was walking the dog and I bumped into a neighbour I had not seen for a while.

She is one of many neighbours I seek to pray for each day, especially when I walk past their homes. The truth is, it is possible I am the only Christian on the planet praying for these individuals. I hope I am wrong, but in the very secular Australia, that could well be the case. So that was another reminder of why I might need to be around for a while.

And then out of the blue another gal I know contacted me, saying she had a book she wanted to give me. She dropped it off, and as she left, she said something like, ‘You have been a real cyber theological mentor to me while I was in Bible college.” She seems to have made use of my website often over the years, and it was of some help to her while in school. That was a real encouragement.

Just those few little things last night and this morning were a real reminder and example of Lamentations 3:22-23:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

I then posted this on the social media:

Even God’s great saints can feel quite down and wonder if their lives are really worth anything. Last night I was again musing on such things, but God brought 3 surprising things my way today to show me maybe I do have a real reason to be here, and some good can be done by our lives. At this time of year, think of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how the suicidal George Bailey needed an angel from heaven to show him what life would have been like if he was not around. We are all needed and we are all of great value.

It was good to get a number of kind responses to that. One gal even said this: “You are valuable & needed. You teach me something on every post you make. Because of you I try my best to seek God always and to pray for others more fervently and earnestly. You are golden, a true blessing to many, many people. God granted you the gifts you have. Please keep keeping on. Have a happy, blessed New Year!”

Well that was a real help – even though I do not think I measure up to that in any way!

The journey of Nightbirde

Let me mention one other person here. In rather marked contrast to myself – the melancholic, often moody, and often morose old guy – is a young Christian who seemed to really know the joy and peace of the Lord, and it certainly showed, even to non-Christians. She might have been just another ordinary Christian struggling with her own massive trials, but an appearance on a bigtime TV show changed things for her.

Some of you know about her. I had learned of her story a few years ago and posted on it, at least on the social media. I just checked my website, but it seems I had not done a piece on her yet. Well now I have. I refer to Jane Marczewski, a singer and songwriter who performed under the name, Nightbirde.

She was born in Ohio on December 29, 1990. She attended a Christian school in Virginia, and released some albums of her music. What turned her world upside down, as it had for my wife, was learning she had breast cancer. My wife discovered this at age 65 – she at age 26. And like my wife, it seemed to subside a bit, but then came back with a vengeance.

But unlike so many who struggle with things like cancer, she got a big break to appear on a top-rated American show. One write-up says this about it all:

In June 2021, Nightbirde performed during the 16th season auditions on America’s Got Talent. During her appearance, she offered two inspirational statements: “It’s important that everyone knows I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me… You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” Nightbirde subsequently received a Golden Buzzer from Simon Cowell for her performance of her original song “It’s OK”. The song became No. 1 on iTunes and No. 2 trending on YouTube.


In August 2021, before she could compete in the show’s quarterfinal round, Nightbirde withdrew from the competition because of worsening health. Cowell encouraged her not to return to the competition, saying “You don’t need the stress right now.” She appeared via remote broadcast during the live quarterfinals of AGT to express gratitude, and gave an update about her health on August 11, 2021.

The cancer was certainly hardcore, and she was given just a two per cent chance of making it. Yet she could say this: “I have a two per cent chance of survival. But two per cent is not zero per cent. Two per cent is something, and I wish people knew how amazing it is.”

Sadly, Jane’s husband of a few years left her as she was in the midst of her cancer battle. On February 19, 2022 Jane passed away. She was just 31.

Words of course cannot do justice to her and her story. But because she made it onto national television, her story has been told numerous times, and there are plenty of videos out there as well. Can I strongly encourage you to watch this seven-minute video?

Jane did not live to be an older woman. My wife did not make it to her 66th birthday. I am still here at 70. Who knows how long I have to go? Who knows how long any of us have? But we do know this: we will all go through tough times and dark days. How we deal with it all is what really counts.

God is able to sustain us through the most trying of times and the most painful of experiences. Some of us handle it better than others. Jane certainly seemed to handle things much better than most. So we all need to keep on keeping on. And we need to be willing to share our lows, our pains, our weaknesses and our doubts with others.

Yes we should bring all those things to Christ. But he also works through his people. Therefore we need to be humble enough to share our faults and struggles with others. And we need to be Christlike enough to pray for and encourage those who are going through hard times.

Even simple things can make such a huge difference in the lives of others. Simply saying things like this can do more than you will ever imagine:

‘I am glad I know you.’
‘You are a champ.’
‘I am glad you are around.’
‘You have so much to offer to others.’
‘You are a blessing.’
‘Keep up the great work.’
‘God bless you.’
‘We need more heroes like you.’

So let us keep going on, and always remember that despite the big smiles and happy demeanour, many people are struggling massively on the inside. Some of you will share that with others, while some will keep it to themselves. We need to be alert to the needs and issues of others.

If a long-standing Christian like I can go through my low patches and times of doubt and despair, then any believer can. So we need each other. As Paul put it in Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

[1745 words]

16 Replies to “It’s OK To Be Down, But We Need the Help of Others”

  1. Dear Bill. Thank you for sharing so honestly how things are for you. It enables us to pray for you that God will be with you, might bless you and sustain you in these tough periods and to press on knowing that your labour is not in vain. I have been reading your comments on and off for ten years now and have found you a voice of Christian sanity in a wicked world. Thank you for what you do!! May God richly bless you and your family.

  2. Bill,

    Thank you so much for this post. I know we have our struggles that we have to bear alone. Our struggles are unique to each individual, and I often struggle with all that you mentioned above.

    One of my main struggles is the feeling of rejection. I have been lied about, and people will believe a lie before the truth even though they know who you are. I have been and am currently facing rejection by close family members because I won’t subject myself to their abuse and gaslighting.

    My wife tries to get me to share these things with her, and I tell her I don’t want to burden her with these inner struggles. I let her know that I have to keep these thoughts and feelings in check, and she can do nothing for me as far as my thoughts are concerned. She does pray for me.

    I am thankful for Christ and what he has done for me, and I am grateful for my wife and daughter, who support me during my down times.

  3. Thanks for sharing Brian. We must of course cast our cares on Christ for he cares for us. But there is also a very real place for sharing with others, be it a spouse, or a few close friends. We cannot handle these hardships alone, and we really do need each other. So try reaching out to a few folks. Blessings.

  4. Hi Bill thanks for the encouragement yet again. I have survived bowel and liver cancer and as you know the journey through cancer is brutal .. my friend said at the end ‘ you hung onto Jesus ‘ hem all the way through for the five years or so of treatment. This time last year I had Covid and blacked out fell ruptured my spleen and they also found I had a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. I have spent a lot of last year so down and feel forgotten by the Lord .. like I don’t matter .. I have to pray and take stock as you do as to how important our lives are to Him and to others whose paths we cross. Thank you for your encouragement this evening yet again.. please pray as I go into hospital on the 11th for a op on my heart .. look there’s another job you have to do? God bless Bill.

  5. I would very much miss reading your blog.
    I have recently been listening to the videos by Andrew Brunson on his experience of imprisonment in Turkey, facing life sentences – very frank and helpful on suffering.

  6. Bill, how we love you, the biblical truths you teach us; along with so many scriptural references and further reading by those mighty men & women gone before us and those who are still here.
    We especially love your honest and compelling vulnerability.
    We appreciate you so very much, Bill.
    “Keep Going”, as my darling friend, Gail in Tasmania (whom I reached out to from this very site in the middle of convid) has said to me this challenging year….
    Love always in Jesus Precious Name, Melinda

  7. Keep going, Bill, there is only one important thing to focus on: to hear the Master say “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” And His rest.

    Finish strong. You have been a light to the world (Matt 5:14-16). Fight the darkness, the loneliness, the privation, the sense of purposelessness, the very real temptation to despair – reject the lies (for that is all they are) for your best days, all our best days, those who follow Yeshua HaMashiach, lie ahead of us.

    When you abound or abase, He is with you and holds you fast in His right hand. Lean even more fiercely into Him, who will never leave or forsake you. He numbers all your days and has purpose for each one, until your earthly mission is completed. And if He has purpose, He has made provision for you to appropriate.

    For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED [in his expectations].” Romans 10:11 AMP

  8. While I am very empathetic to everything written in this article, the reference in the article to “very secular Australia” caught my eye. I have been re-reading on multiple occasions in the last couple of days the articles on this website regarding the earthquakes that occurred in Melbourne in September 2021 and May 2023 as well as watching clips of the Christchurch earthquake that occurred in 2011 that killed over 160 people. Things in Australia are worse than ever before, nearly everyone has tattoos, God’s holy name incessantly taken in vain all over the place including by Christians, the sin of sodom is more open than ever before, extremely evil laws being passed, masses of clueless, tattooed, soulless zombies walking around staring at their phones, the mass importation of non-Christians into Australia who bring their filthy paganism with them, the mass collapse of Christianity amongst traditional Anglos, the worship of sport etc etc. I just wonder how long Australia has before something very terrible hits this country, something like the Christchurch earthquake but far worse. Things can’t keep south and downward like this, it’s intolerable.

  9. Thank you as always, Bill – and the angel who stays so close to you.

    One day you are going to find out how many people’s lives you have made a difference to…

    With love, and so much appreciation.


  10. Bill, I was horrified to hear that you’ve had suicidal thoughts sometimes. Please, don’t. Your words and actions have made a tremendous difference to many people’s lives and continue to do so. I know (from personal experience of my own bereavement) how hard it can be to continue sometimes when your soulmate of many years isn’t here anymore, but one day, we are assured that we will see them both again and this time, we will never be parted.

    I don’t know how you feel about antidepressants. As a retired nurse, I regard them as a gift from God that they can be used to prevent depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, particularly the latter. God does not want us to take our own lives. He is there to comfort and value us in times of trouble. And if it’s at all possible, find a qualified Christian counsellor who has expertise in cognitive behavioural therapy. Both antidepressants and CBT help uphold the sanctity of human life through preventing suicide, and many Christian medical practitioners regard them as divinely inspired. Using such adjuncts does not mean your faith is any less than it would be otherwise.

  11. It’s also the reason why the Lord gave us families. Even after we have lost the soulmate of our lives, as you and I have both done, there is the profound blessing of our children and in some cases, grandchildren, as we enter our October years on this Earth. Be there for them. You will continue to be their bedrock and foundation even after they’ve reached maturity- I know that my daughter and I still have a warm relationship even though she’s in her forties now. And if you are a grandparent, you have a whole new generation to nurture, educate in the faith, advise and help to bring to maturity- including spiritual maturity. It’s no less important for granddads as it is for nannas like me!

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