My heart is empty. All the fountains that should run with longing are in me dried up.” Pilgrim’s Regress C. S. Lewis[1]

More than a few times, I have mentioned my desire to take a canoe trip on one of the local lakes. We did once years ago but never again. It was one of those nostalgic memories you wanted to create with a family, like an old country time lemonade commercial, but just never had the time. However, things recently were coming together to make it materialize.

I had the day off, and my daughter had recalled this planned but unrealized trip; urging me to go. But, that morning, my desire was gone, and the idea felt like drudgery.


I suggested other things to her, cited the humidity, said I had no cash to get in the park (but the cash was found shredding that excuse), I flat out asked her to pick something else. But, moments later, we were in the car lake bound.

This is the odd feeling depression can produce. The conflict of desire. I want to, but I do not want to. It’s reminiscent of Paul’s declaration about indwelling sin, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”[2] Application different; but the outworking of desire is identical.

Depression affects our emotions…some may become animated, like grief, fear, anger, or shame. Others like love, caring, joy, happiness become deadened. But emotions are reactive to the environment we live in. We react to what is…with an emotion. Desire, however, identifies a reality that does not exist and works to create it.

Desire vs. Emotions

Understanding this sets up an active process to deal with depression. Now we know, desire has a strong connection with sin. And this is destructive: “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.[3]

But it also has a constructive side: “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end…”[4]

I saw this work out in my life through my young daughter and a canoe. The feeling was absent, but the desire was known. So, without feeling, we worked to create a reality that would be the desire. In the end, the feelings followed, and I am glad we did.

As a new creation in Christ, your innermost desires have been transformed. But the challenge we all face is the disappoint of those desires not being realized. Depression feeds into this, leading to despair. It’s easier to act with the support of feelings. They act as a wind to the sail. But a boat doesn’t need wind to move; rowing works just as well.

Our heart may be empty, and the fountains may be dried up, but we are to pursue Christ, not feelings. He is our hope and desire.

– Blair Radney

[1] Lewis, C. S., and Michael Hague. The Pilgrims Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason, and Romanticism. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014. Pg 184.

[2] Romans 17:9

[3] Ephesians 2:3

[4] Hebrews 6:11

Published by B Radney

A sinner saved through the grace of Jesus Christ.

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