The downward spiral of depression and hopelessness … It starts with a
thought. It is sometimes triggered by something you saw, read, or were reminded of. It can initially hit your mind hard, instantly triggering sadness. The sadness leads into a mental/emotional conversation in your head that can be true or a lie and lead to deeper sadness. Nausea and/or other physical symptoms can sometimes follow. Fear then sets in. Once fear set in, your mind floods with multiple seemingly impossible situations that further compound and confirm why your original thought is valid.
If, at the point of this emotional/mental conversation, these hopeless thoughts linger, and at that moment you do not choose to think differently, or oppose those sad thoughts, your mind takes you to believing that the circumstances or facts that have made you sad, are hopeless and beyond fixing or changing.
Therefore, in your mind, the sadness is permanent, leading you into deeper depression that is very hard to break free of. Every person that you come in contact with that cares about you – you see them as someone who is completely unable to help you, and your hopeless, permanent situation, so you don’t draw close to them, you pull away and become angry at them and blame them. To justify your anger, sometimes your mind will produce memories where the person was no help, confirming they cannot help you now, so you blame them.
Depression has become one of the biggest medical disorders of all time, and unfortunately even a killer. Dr. McMillan in his best selling book, “None of These Diseases”, suggests that anywhere from 75-90% of all medical problems are primarily caused from mental and emotional factors. Others state that by the year 2020 depression will be the second largest killer in the world.
Listen to a few more statistics that may surprise you:
- children as young as pre-school and kindergarten are being diagnosed today with clinical depression.
- 9 ½% of Americans over the age of 18 suffer from some sort of depressive disorder.
- Depression is the biggest reason for absenteeism in students of all ages.
- Depression in developing countries affects 15% of the population; the majority affected are women.
- 80% of people experiencing depression are not being treated for it and 41% of those are too embarrassed to get help.
- And most tragically,15% of patients suffering with severe depression will follow through and commit suicide.
Sitting in church pews all around the world, Sunday after Sunday are people who love the Lord with all their hearts, desire to live for Him and yet silently suffer with depression. The burden for these people is twice as heavy since they are constantly reminded that the “truth will set them free” and that “Christ came that they might have life and life more abundantly”. Then, shame and condemnation are piled onto the already heavy depression, weighing them down even further, pushing them to isolate themselves, alone – dangerously alone.
My heart truly goes out to these people, as it should. We are called to “bear one another’s burdens”. My prayer is that the body of Christ and its leadership would address the stronghold of depression in the same way we believe for physical healing, or any other need of deliverance. I am very aware that at times medical intervention is required. For those who have been told otherwise, let me release you from any spirit of condemnation that the uninformed have placed on you, contributing to yet more depression. Those who suffer from a chemical imbalance or a brain injury can find wonderful help from medical sources. Jesus said, “They that are sick have need of a physician.” Go to your doctor, it’s ok.
But I also believe with all my heart, that the truth of the Word of God applied will bring the searching and sincere to a full recovery and even into victory over severe personal trauma and clinical depression. Depression happens in the very soul of a person. Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. Psalms 19:7 says that, “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul” – reviving your mind, your will and your emotions – bringing what’s dying to life again. Jesus died to save your soul.
David was a man who was able to pour out the deepest and darkest parts of his discouraged soul onto paper. Thank God he did! He is one who may bring you the greatest hope in the Word of God. While searching through my Bible, I came across some markings I had made in Psalm chapter 22. Throughout the Psalm I found a pattern. It went like this:
1) What David felt.
2) What David knew.
What David felt, what David knew … and ultimately, what David did!
David felt things like this:
* My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
* Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
* Everyday I call to you but you do not answer, every night you hear my voice but I find no relief.
* I am a worm and not a man, scorned, despised by all, everyone who sees me mocks me.
* My heart is like wax, melting within me, my strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
* You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
David admitted his discouragement, acknowledged the depth of the darkness he felt deep in his soul – his mind, his will and his emotions. But David never tolerated these depressing thoughts for long. He quickly disciplined his mind to speak and record what he KNEW!
* Yet YOU are holy … enthroned on the praises of Israel.
* Our ancestors trusted in You and You rescued them.
* They cried out to you and were saved, they trusted in You and were never disgraced.
* You brought me safely from my mothers womb, You led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
* You have been my God from the moment I was born.
* You are my strength!
You can hear David’s passion and depth of love for his God throughout the entire book of Psalms as he constantly rose above what he FELT, and began to tell himself what he KNEW.
We then find out what David DID.
He said, “I will proclaim you to my brothers and sisters, I will praise you among your assembled people … praise Him, fear Him, show Him reverence, he told the people. He said, “the Lord has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy, He has not turned His back on them, but has listened to their cries for help”. David spoke the truth he knew about the God he knew with great praise.
I believe the pattern David followed will work for you too.
* What David felt – you know what you’re feeling.
* What David knew – if you’re a believer, you know the truth.
* What David did – through Christ in you, you have the strength to apply the Word you know against your personal enemy, depression.
One of my all-time, favorite chapters is Psalm 18. David said, “In my distress I cried out to the Lord, yes, I prayed to my God for help. He reached down from heaven and rescued me – he drew me out of deep waters” – deep depression.
If you are a Christian but living with depression you have probably had all kinds of well-meaning spiritual advice given to you in church, or on TV, or from friends or family, and though you have appreciated their advice, it really hasn’t made much of a difference in your life at all. But let me encourage you in this. If you are sincere in asking the Lord for help and deliverance and if to the best that you can are applying the truth that you know to your mind, and speaking it in faith from your mouth, then I believe with all my heart that there will come a moment of illumination or revelation of the truth that you’ve been standing on and speaking in faith, and your complete deliverance will manifest. God will reach down from heaven, rescue you, and draw you out of deep waters.
For you I pray this …
… lift the darkness – bring in the light
… where there is weakness – give strength
… where there is confusion – give peace
… where there is pain – bring healing
Bless the Lord oh my SOUL (your mind, will & emotions)
The solution, best applied early, at the onset of the sadness, immediately after the initial thought that triggered sadness, is the truth of this verse. It brings an instant picture to my mind every time I think of it.
II Corinthians 10:5 says, “Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
This might sound crazy, but in my mind I picture this cowgirl on a horse with a lasso spinning skillfully in the air, capturing millions of reckless,
stray, sinful, doubt filled thoughts, arresting them, and rendering them powerless. That’s what the Word says we have to do when our mind strays into places it should not be.
I will never forget one night when the Holy Spirit got my attention in a most unusual way. I had gone to bed troubled by many things and had allowed my thoughts to run wild through my mind, resulting in much tossing and turning, fretting and sleeplessness. In the early morning hours around 3am our then 3 year old daughter Destiny walked quietly, almost robotically, but boldly into our room and just stood perfectly still at the side of my bed. It gave me a very strange sensation, I knew something spiritual was happening here. She just stood motionless and clearly spoke the words, “What are you thinking about Mommy?”. I was startled by her direct manner and by her 3 year old question at 3 am and replied a little exasperated, with the truth, “Just everything honey, Mommy is thinking about everything”. She then calmly said, “Think about Jesus Mommy, think about Jesus!”. She then turned around, walked out of the room and back into her bed.
I sat up to see her leave the room and knew instantly that the Holy Spirit had awakened her and used her to give me a message. I had fallen asleep with the weight of the world on my shoulders, or so I had convinced myself. My racing thoughts were frantically planning how I could fix everything for everybody. I was a mature Christian and knew better than to allow the enemy to rob me of a good nights sleep, or anything else for that matter. But I had failed to “bring every thought into captivity” before I went to sleep. I’d gotten off my horse and was getting trampled.
The enemy loves to try to catch us off guard. His approach toward us when we are tired, discouraged, sick, or broke is typical and predictable. We need to be on guard. Psalm139 says that God knows my every thought, and in Isaiah 55 He says that His thoughts are completely different than mine.
He also tells me in Philippians 4 what I ought to be thinking about … things that are pure, lovely and admirable. Things that are excellent and worthy of praise. It takes discipline to stay on your horse and practice that lasso, but if you want to overcome negative thoughts and stay out of depression, then bringing your thoughts into line with the powerful Word of God is your answer.
If you are depressed today, the suggestions in this blog may overwhelm you and make you feel like they are just too difficult. In your heart you may be saying, “I’ve done that already.” But just come honestly before the Lord one more time, pour out your heart to Him, wait on Him and He will dispel the darkness. He has a purpose and plan for our life … good things. Do your part about turning your thoughts around to line up with the Word of God. Let God invade your heart and mind in 2016!
Praying this has encouraged you.