OVERCOMING DEPRESSION

There was a time in my life when I had no energy for anything. As a wife, mother, and homemaker, there were certain things that simply had to be done. I did the minimum to get by. I cooked uninspired meals and managed to keep our clothes clean, and that was about it. It took me eight months to realize what was wrong. I was depressed.

Depression is a very insidious thing. It sneaks up on us when our defenses are down, and often we do not even know what is wrong. There can be physical reasons, where illness saps our strength. But I have known people with long, debilitating illnesses that lifted up those around them with their upbeat attitudes. It can develop out of a lack of purpose and an emptiness in our lives. But there are many Christians who have a living and vital relationship with God who still fall into depression from time to time. It can come through a major loss, such as of a loved one, or a catastrophic disaster (fire, storm, etc.). Whatever the cause, there is a way out.

When we look at circumstances, it is easy to be overwhelmed as Peter was when he was walking on the water and took his eyes off Jesus (Matthew 14:30, KJV). The circumstances in our lives are not sent to destroy us, but so that we will look to God for answers. For every problem we have, God has an answer already set aside with our name on it. He waits patiently for us to see our need and turn to him for help.

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16.

He wants us to cast out unbelief (which is not a lack of belief, but is a virulent, active something) and believe him. He says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10.

Depression also comes from a feeling of low (or nonexistent) self- worth. We must indeed recognize the utter depravity and worthlessness in ourselves before we can recognize our need for a savior. ("For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:” Romans 3:23.) But that is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. ("Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24.)

After we have fallen on our faces in utter helplessness before the Lord Jesus Christ and asked him to come into our lives and raise us up in the power of his resurrection and give us purpose and meaning for our lives, then we must get up and walk. We must “study to show yourself approved". 2 Timothy 2:15. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind,” 1 Peter 1:13. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ:” 2 Corinthians 10:5. “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24. “But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16b. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2.

God knows us. We do not. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10. We lie to ourselves and others. We hide behind a facade of what we would like to be, or what we think we should be, to gain acceptance and love from those around us.

“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou are in the way with him: lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou has paid the uttermost farthing.” Matthew 5:25-26. Our adversary is Satan who accuses us of the things OF WHICH WE ARE GUILTY! We should agree with him that in our self/flesh/Adamic nature there is no good thing. But wait!! There is more!! We have a second nature which is Jesus Christ, the Lord. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10. If we try to justify the things in us which God says are sin, we will have to stand before the judge and answer for them ourselves.

Confessing our sin is the beginning of putting on the mind of Christ. Then we must begin to find out what God has to say about “the new me". “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. I can overcome this depression. I can begin to walk in newness of life. “And it came to pass…” It did not come to stay. Whether it be good or bad it will pass. We need to learn to live in the now. God is the great “I AM” not “I will be” or “I should have been".

The Bible does not say, “Rejoice in the Lord when you are happy.” or “… when you feel good.” It says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4. This is a command. And again, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Is the will of God bad? No!! Does it hurt? Sometimes– yes, unto death. Death to self! When a doctor operates to remove a cancer, he cuts; and without anesthesia it would hurt. (Sometimes it does anyway.) Sin has built self-perpetuating structures in our very personalities that must be removed when we come to God and ask him to remake us in his image. These things must be cut out before he can begin to cultivate his fruit in us.

When we have come to him, he begins to show us ourselves in the people around us. The things they do that hurt and offend us are the things of which we are guilty. We do not want to see these things so we try to justify our own actions, at the same time that we are condemning them. If we will humble ourselves before the Lord and ask him to show us the attitude that results in their actions and what we are doing that grows out of the same attitude, he will; and as we see it and confess it as sin, he will remove it.

One of the basic ingredients of depression is self-pity. We feel we have been treated unjustly or something happens that we feel we do not deserve. When we come to Jesus for salvation, he puts a hedge around us. (Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Job 1: 10.) After that nothing can touch us without God’s permission. Is God unjust? No!! If we had the “justice” we claim we desire, we would all be dead. God allows the circumstances of our lives to show us the things in us that are displeasing to him so that we will humble ourselves and turn to him for cleansing and healing.

“For the Lord shall judge his people, … See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:36 & 39. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” 1 Corinthians 11:31-32. We can go through it now, bit by bit as God leads us, shows us, heals us, and transforms us; or we can stand before the throne of judgement– condemned. The choice is ours.

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?:” Hebrews 12:6-7. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Hebrews 12:11.

Jesus came to give us “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness:” Isaiah 61:3. Bad thoughts that lead to and feed depression are like the birds of the air. We cannot stop them from flying over our heads, but we do not have to let them build nests in our hair. If we would overcome depression, we must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5, and put on “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3. This is an act of will and does not depend on feelings. Begin to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD,” Psalms 98:4; “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him,” 1 Chronicles 16:9. Fill your home or car with praise songs on the radio or recorder, and fill your thoughts with praise and worship for an awesome, loving God.

REJOICE evermore.
PRAY without ceasing. In everything
GIVE THANKS: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
QUENCH NOT the Spirit.
DESPISE NOT prophesyings.
PROVE all things;
HOLD FAST that which is good.
ABSTAIN from all appearance of evil.

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, WHO ALSO WILL DO IT.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24.

As we begin to turn our thoughts to God and to praise and rejoice in him and in what he is doing in us, depression will flee away. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren,

whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and
if there be any praise,
think on these things.” Philippians 4:7-8.


June 1987

BEGIN TODAY

If you do not already do so, get a LARGE notebook and begin today to record the things the Lord does for you, the lessons he teaches, the prayers he answers with the date for each thing. My notebook also includes dreams I felt were significant, especially meaningful scriptures and how they relate to my life at the time, special prayers for myself and others with the date of the answer added later–in other words, anything you feel is worth remembering.

Maybe you feel as I did in the beginning. I prayed saying, “Lord, I don’t have a testimony. I don’t know anything you have done for me. If you will give me a testimony I will share it at every opportunity.” Looking back I wonder how I could have been so blind. But God was faithful to answer my prayer, and as I began to look for things, they were there in abundance. Now when depression tries to come in like a flood, I get out my notebook and remind myself of all the wonderful things God has done for ME. I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude, and depression flees away. He will do the same for you. BEGIN TODAY!!