Having experienced depression, I sympathize when I know of others that are going through this trial. We might not have had the same situation that lead to it, but the despair, the hopelessness can be understood.
Depression doesn't discriminate, affecting people from all walks of life, including those of us in the Christian faith. Just to name a few, it can affect:
- An overwhelmed mother.
- A person who lost his/her job.
- People who were neglected or abused when they were young.
- People who are facing divorce.
- People of all ages.
- People with regrets.
I have found that the when depression is at its worse (there is actually a functional stage where we're able to work and function without breaking down), we isolate ourselves and find no comfort when we finally open up and friends start quoting Scripture. "Yes, I know, I know," we think. And we do. Why isn't it enough? It's not what we want to hear because it's so robotic. We know the verses well, ourselves. We need testimonies of others who have overcome. We need a listening ear. We need prayer. We need worship! We need to write. We need to just hang on.
We don't feel like a lion(ess), ready for battle with the enemy that surrounds us. We feel like the mouse the snake is suffocating and is about to be devoured, or the prey of a lion as it roams around us. We fail to see and hear the voice of the One behind us: the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Whose roar is loudest in our minds? If you've read your Bible, you know all too well that Jesus is King. His Lordship doesn't end when we reach the end of ourselves; it's where it begins. When we stop trying to be self-sufficient in our emotional matters, He is then able to carry us through to the other side. There is hope because with God, all things are possible.
When I hear of people that take their own lives (like an old high school friend of mine did three days ago), I grieve. I grieve for what might have been, even though I know there's no point in wondering or wishing. I grieve because I know how hopeless they felt. I grieve for their families that will have the difficult task of facing life without them, unnecessarily, and possibly even reject God because it happened. My heart aches as I try to process the tragedy. It also does something else: it reminds me of one of the reasons why I'm in ministry.
This world is spiraling downward into immorality and filth, faster and faster each day. The twisted view of morality, "your truth is not my truth," do what makes you happy, "if you've got it, flaunt it," and the desensitization of sexual immorality- this way of life- has managed to trick us into thinking some things are harmless, even though we know God never changes and His Word, His holiness stand firm.
All of these things play a role in our way of processing thoughts. We are greatly influenced, whether we notice or not, by the world’s perception of truth and beauty. If we deny our identity in Christ by our thoughts and actions, we will not stand. We are to be pitied when the church doesn't speak up against these things for fear of being judged as being hypocritical, judgmental, or fanatical. We care more about people's perception of us than God's approval and honor. Revival in the hearts of all the church is needed desperately.
It's not too late. God has given us another day, another opportunity. There is hope for those that find themselves in the pit of despair. It is never too deep that God cannot reach down and save us.
There is hope for the next generation that is being raised by technology. We must use our influence- because somewhere in an area of life, we have some- to teach truth. If our children know their worth, and if they know their Heavenly Father, they are more likely to allow His presence in their own hardships and trials as they carry on through life.
Children need to know they're loved, not only by the words they hear, but the time invested in them, getting to know them, asking questions, being an example of how to responsibly use technology with boundaries, being mindful of the time spent in it. They must be sheltered from things that would have an irreversible impact in their minds. Yes, I said "shelter." That has become such an ugly word in parenting, but it shouldn't be. We are called to do that by our God. We are called to guard our own eyes, hearts and minds. To shelter means to shield and protect from harm. Isn't this what every parent wants? I'm not saying they will never see evil, but why be the ones to allow it? This laid back view has had a toll on our children and society. We cannot stand for it. By being silent, we condone it.
There is hope for those still struggling. If you know someone, don't be afraid to insist a little more, to invite one more time, to make a call or send a message. As much as someone that is struggling with depression isolates themselves, they truly need (and want) to know someone does care and is thinking of them. Their troubled minds might struggle to believe it, but our continuous expressions of concern, prayer, and God- most importantly- can turn that situation around.
If you are the one struggling, please, I urge you, cry out to God, worship Him, and reach out to someone else. You are important, you do matter, and you will see a better day. You can still experience joy because God gives strength to His people. Don't give up. It's okay to admit you need help. Your reasons for feeling the way you do shouldn't hold you back. Everyone struggles with something. We need to open up; this journey we are on is not just about us; it's about God, His Kingdom, and others. A multitude of people can be motivated to seek help and find hope in your victory over depression. It points people to Christ. It helps our endurance grow. Put on the armor (Ephesians 6:10-20), but let God fight the battle.
It should be alarming for us to realize that we have a choice to control our thoughts when it means we choose not to. But instead of letting them be brought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), we succumb to the enemy. We must be mindful or our thoughts and intentional in what we allow. We must recognize when toxic thoughts are looming and refuse to entertain them. Our reasons might be valid, but dwelling on them instead of God's truth is optional.
We will surrender; let it be to the mercy and grace of the Almighty. There is hope in Him. There is love and life in Him. There is truth in Him. That is because He is all these things and more. His reign will never end. Over any situation, He is Lord. Amen.
"I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and He turned to me and heard my
cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set
my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new
song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be
amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD." -Psalm 40:1-3
*If you do struggle with toxic thinking, you are not alone. I recommend you not only seek God and the support of others, but also get to know your brain and how it processes thoughts. Dr. Caroline Leaf
, a Christian neuroscientist, has great resources.