DEPRESSION, WHAT DOES GOD REALLY EXPECT FROM US? (Philippians 4)
Have you ever felt like this?
Lord I’m drowning in sea of perplexity,
Waves of confusion crash over me!
I’m too weak to shout for help!
Either quiet the waves or lift me above them,
It’s too late to learn how to swim.
Or like this:
If I were a cloud, I’d sit and cry.
If I were the sun I’d sit and sigh.
But I’m not a cloud, nor am I the sun,
I’m just sitting here being no one!
If I were the wind, I’d blow here and there.
If I were the rain, I’d fall everywhere.
But I’m not the wind nor am I the rain.
I’m just a no one, feeling pain.
If I were the snow, I’d fall oh so gently.
If I were the sea, waves would roll o’er me.
But I’m not the snow, nor am I the sea,
I’m just no one, and so lonely.
Max Lucado wrote:
“There’s a window in your heart through which you can see God. Once upon a time the window was clear. Your view of God was crisp. You could see God as vividly as you could see a gentle valley or hillside. The glass was clean, the pain unbroken. You knew God. You knew how He worked. You knew what He wanted you to do. No surprises. Nothing unexpected. You knew God had a will, and you continually discovered what it was.
Then suddenly, the window cracked. A pebble broke the window. A pebble of pain. Perhaps the stone struck when you were a child and a parent left home–forever. Maybe the rock hit in adolescence when your heart was broken. Maybe you made it into adulthood before the window was cracked. But then the pebble came.
Was it a phone call? “We have your daughter at the station, you’d better come down.” Was it a letter on the kitchen table? “I’ve left! Don’t try to reach me. Don’t try to call me. It’s over! I just don’t love you anymore.” Was it a diagnosis from the doctor? “I’m afraid the news isn’t very good.” Was it a telegram? “We regret to inform you that your son is missing in action.”
Whatever the pebble’s form, the result was the same–a shattered window. The pebble missiled into the pane and shattered it. The crash echoed down the halls of your heart. Cracks shot out from the point of impact, creating a spider web of fragmented pieces. And God was not easy to see. The view that was so clear had changed. You turned to see God and His figure was distorted. It was hard to see Him through the fragments of hurt.
The moment the pebble struck, the glass became a reference point for you. From then on, there was life before the pain and after the pain. Before your pain the view was clear, God seemed so near. After your pain, well, He was harder to see. He seemed a but distant…harder to perceive. Your pain distorted the view…Where is God? How could a loving God allow this to happen to me?”
Symptoms of Depression:
•Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, despair, gloom and moodiness.
•Loss of perspective. The way we perceive our life, our job and our family is discolored. Depression is like a set of camera filters that focus only on the darker portions of life, and takes all the joy and warmth from the scene.
•Change in physical activities, unnatural eating patterns, unnatural sleeping habits. It effects our love life, and that reinforces the feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.
•General loss of self-esteem. We feel less positive about ourselves and begin to question our value, our self-confidence is very low.
•feelings of pain. Some have said they would rather have physical pain, better a broken arm than a broken heart.
•Feelings of guilt, even though you are innocent. You feel that everything is your fault.
•Worrying about past mistakes. You can’t forgive yourself. And you can’t forget.
•You feel rejected. Unfortunately depression cause us to drive people away from us by our unpleasant actions.
•You want to escape, to run away, even from life itself.
•You believe people are out to get you. You think God has singled you out to harass.
•You may experience a slow down in mental activity, resulting in an inability to concentrate and make good decisions.
•You have a hard time handling your decisions, especially anger. You lash out, often at the people who love you the most.
There are no simple solutions. It is a complex, painful mental disorder that affects the whole being. And if not dealt with properly it can become so severe as to require hospitalization.
I have been a pastor for over fifty years, but I am not a qualified, professional counselor. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I can pray for you and with you. I may be able to help you only to evaluate the seriousness of your malady, Pastors can help! They are perhaps the first for you to see, listen to them! Talk it over with your spouse, or a trusted Christian friend who can pray with you. If you believe you are suffering from depression, seek help NOW! Do not put it off!
I don’t want to be overly simplistic with you in my advice, but I do want to help. Here is some practical advice:
Change the way you talk about yourself. We all talk about ourselves in our thoughts. Be positive! Don’t criticize yourself! Do not hold grudges against yourself. Get off your back! The Bible says you are made in the image of God, and that you are created by a perfect God. “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14-NLT).
Try to understand your feelings, but focus on your behavior. Your actions will determine how you feel. If you choose to love your job, it will cease to be a pain to go to work. If you choose to love your spouse, you will act in love and respect toward them. Is all of that hard to do? Probably! But God says in Philippians 4:13-NLT, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Focus on a specific plan of action. It is not enough to say, “I will end my depression.” That’s almost like saying “I will not cough.” It’s amazing the little things that effect our emotions. Change the time you get up in the morning. Change your breakfast habits. Change your first response to your wife/husband/children, respond lovingly to your family. Say something like, “This is going to be a great day!” or “Hasn’t God given us a terrific day?” Start your day with a prayer, “Lord, I want to give you this day.” As soon as you open your eyes say, “Good morning Lord.” Not “Good Lord, morning.” Take a different route to work, Shake things up a bit! Select ten things you will change, do them consistently for a week.
Develop new interests and activities. You are in a rut. Someone has defined “rut” as a grave with the ends knocked out.”
Develop a friendship. Someone you trust. Someone you can talk with intimately. Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” Do not choose someone of the opposite sex, there is a great danger of becoming intimately involved. You are too vulnerable now!
Realize, no one is perfect. Everyone make mistakes. Do not put unrealistic demands upon yourself.
Focus on assertiveness. Make decisions. The first rule of decision making is make them! I’m not saying “be aggressive.” Don’t run over people. Express how you feel about the things that irritate you in a positive, loving way.
Deal with the fear of rejection. Learn that you can get close to others. Tell yourself that people will not always disappoint us. Try to get a handle on the distrust that plagues everyone.
Recognize your anger and deal with it. Aim it in the right direction. Three things the Bible says about anger; 1) Do not seek revenge. 2) Keep short accounts, do not hold grudges. 3) Don’t allow the devil to get a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-MSG, “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”
Stop trying to get even with yourself and with others. Be very careful, depression is a tool for us to get even with others. And you must forgive yourself, as God has forgiven you for even the worst things you have done.
Realize there is hope. You are not alone. When I was going through a deep depression, a physician friend told me, “You are not the first person who has gone through this and you are not alone, I’m here for you.” I have been where you are and I survived. I’m O.K.! And even if I’m not O.K., Jesus says, “That’s O.K.!” He cares for you! “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
See your primary physician for a checkup. Tell him what you’re going through. Your condition may be physical. My doctor discovered a thyroid problem that contributed to my feelings of depression.
Listen to Christian music. King Saul’s depressive spirit would leave him when David played his harp. “David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him’ (1 Samuel 16:23).
Get adequate sleep. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows (depression); For so He gives His beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2).
Get some recreation. Have some good, clean fun!
Live one day at a time. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).
When you’re depressed, seek God as your hope and help, no matter how despairing your circumstances.
The word “depression” is not found in the Bible but the Bible talks about depression and about people who were depressed. There are words such as “downcast, sad, forlorn, discouraged, downhearted, mourning, troubled, miserable, despairing, and brokenhearted” which all describe depression or being depressed.
The Bible shows that humanity has suffered from discouragement and depression since the beginning. Depression can affect all people, small and great. Many Bible heroes, such as David, Moses, Job and Elijah, dealt with depression. Listen to the Word about Elijah:
“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’ Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. “So he (Elijah) said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life,’” “Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:3-5; 9-13).
•Deuteronomy 31:8-NLT, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
•Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
•Psalm 42:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”
•Psalm 42:11-MSG, ”Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again! He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.”
•Proverbs 18:14-MSG, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?”
•2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
•2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
The Bible tells us to be filled with joy “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). God apparently expects His children live joyful lives. “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This is difficult for someone suffering from depression. It can be remedied through prayer and Bible study, fellowship with other believers, forgiveness, and counseling.
Here are some suggestions:
•Obey God’s Word. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7-TLB).
•Think on good things. “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Philippians 4:8,9-MSG).
•Focus on good behavior. “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:9).
•Divert your thoughts from yourself to others. “Your care for me has flourished” (Philippians 4:10).
•Be content with what you have. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11,12).
•Realize God’s grace and strength is yours. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Philippians 4:13,23). “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
There’s a verse in Psalm 27:10 that is very comforting in times of trouble: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.” That simply means that when we feel all alone, when we feel that everyone has deserted us, God is always there and He loves us so much we can trust Him with our lives, because He will never let anything happen to His children that is not good for Him.
•“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
•Psalm 61:2, “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
•Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”
•Proverbs 3:5,6-NLT, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
•Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
•Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
•2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
To ask for God’s help in your time of need presupposes that you are personally acquainted with Him. Has there been a time in your life when you recognized that you were a sinner? Romans 3:23-NLT, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Now I can’t guarantee that accepting Christ will heal your depression, but God will come in along side of you to help you through it. When you ask Christ to be your Savior, the Holy Spirit moves into your life. He is the “Paracletos,” our Comforter, the one who will empower you to overcome anything!
Please pray the following prayer, believing that God will listen and answer your prayer. That’s called faith!
Dear Lord God, I need You in my life. I acknowledge that I have sinned and I come to You right now confessing that sin, and asking for your forgiveness. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I believe You are the Son of God and that You died for me, and rose from the dead and are alive today. I open the door of my heart and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please take control of my life from here forward and make me the kind of person you want me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Did you pray that prayer? Did you mean it with all your heart? Then God has moved in to your life in the person of the Holy Spirit. Welcome to the family of God!
Here are some Scriptures so you can see what God has done for you.
•John 1:12, “But to as many who received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”
•2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
•Ephesians 3:17, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.”
•Romans 8:9,11, “The Spirit of God dwells in you.”
•Galatians 2:20, “Christ live in me.”
•Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
•Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you the hope of glory.”
•Hebrews 13:5, Jesus says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
•1 John 5:13, “These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also the New Living Translation (NLT); The Message (MSG); The Amplified Bible (AMP); the King James Version (KJV) and The Living Bible (TLB).
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