We have moved several times over the course of forty-three years of marriage. While living in Florida, we lived temporarily in someone’s vacant, furnished home while our home was being built. This required that most of our belongings stay in storage for several months – several months in a storage shed in sunny, HOT Florida.
Finally, the day arrived to move into our home. As I began unpacking boxes, I got to my couch cushions. They had been pressed up against something and were pushed inward, and would not bounce back. Before that, they were always able to bounce back when pressure was applied. They had become depressed because of months of being pressured. As a result, they lost their beauty and usefulness.
That is a description of depression. Often in life we bounce back from all kinds of pressures and situations. Then, one day we can’t seem to bounce back, and one day turns into many days. We just can’t seem to bounce back. Perhaps we lose that glimmer in our eye, or our contagious laughter.
Sometimes it is hard to confess that we are suffering from the pain of depression. Depression is one of the touchy subjects of the church. Many proclaim it is a spirit or a demon, and the person needs a laying-on-hands deliverance. While that might be true sometimes, most often it is not!
I think that depression can be categorized in two basic ways: clinical depression and situational depression. I have asked a friend, who is a Christian counselor, to write a follow-up blog, with some clarification about clinical depression. That will posted a few months down the line. Clinical depression is a medical condition requiring professional help with a plan of action to wellness, just as illnesses of the body require a doctor.
There is no way one can exhaustively cover this subject in a blog. I shall endeavor to give basic info about situational depression and ways to win the victory.
Some people suffer from situational depression. Situational depression can come from divorce, death, financial problems, abuse, unfaithfulness of a spouse, health issues, infertility, wayward children or other life circumstances.
I will use the death of a loved one as an example. I personally suffered situational depression after losing our son Bryan. The experience took my breath away at times, caused many sleepless nights and caused me to experience a pall of heaviness that I could not shake. The interesting thing is that I experienced that for a few months after Bryan’s death, and then it strongly revisited as the year 2014 began. Situational depression can come upon us when pain or disappointment is overwhelming.
There I said it! Barbara Benton has suffered bouts of depression. I am still a Spirit-filled, bible-believing, God-loving and song-singing child of God! That statement will shock some, and cause others to look at me a bit differently. It’s okay. I am all about helping people understand that they don’t have to be overcome by life, but can be an overcomer in life.
What have I learned through these times?
- God is not mad at a depressed person. He wants to comfort the heart and bring peace.
- Stay in His Word, not because we must read daily or we are bad Christians, but because much strength comes as the Word of truth penetrates the dark night of the soul. Walk around reading the Psalms aloud. Insert your name as you read. For example: The Lord is Barbara Benton’s shepherd. He will cause ME to lie down in green pastures of rest. He will do that because “I” am His child.
- Press through the “I don’t feel like it” emotion. The Word of God is true, firm and unchanging.
- Have faith in God. Trust in the darkness what you have learned in the light. It WILL bring you through. Trust what God says rather than your feelings. Feelings can be deceptive.
- Talk with a close friend or family member who can be trusted, and who will pray with/for you. The devil would love for you to keep it a secret. I went through a period of not wanting others to know how much I was suffering. Make regular prayer appointments with those people. Prayer is essential, and the power of what it can do is immeasurable.
- Exercise. Don’t hole up in your home. Staying in all by myself was a great temptation.
- Speak to a Christian counselor, if needed. That person can help to put things in perspective.
It is impossible to cover all that the Bible says about depression, sorrow and hopelessness, so I will only share a bit.
- David was overwhelmed with grief and sadness, his heart was desolate, and his tears fell all night
- Jonah, Jeremiah, Job, and Elijah expressed feelings of rejection, loneliness, self-pity, hopelessness, overwhelming grief, and wish they had not been born. It seems they are expressing more than temporary sadness, but symptoms of depression.
- After the death of her husband and sons, Naomi asked that her name be changed to “Mara” which means bitterness.
- In Corinthians 2, Paul had symptoms of depression: his flesh had no rest, he was troubled on all sides, he was cast down, he had fears within, and he despaired of life.
- Hannah had many of the symptoms of depression, and her spiritual leader instantly, and incorrectly, accused her of a spiritual problem.
God brought each of them through their times of despondency. God saw where each was emotionally. God cared. God brought them through. God wants to do that for you! God does want us to live life abundantly, which is His ordained plan for the believer.
God is our hope in the midst of depression. One of the great truths of the Bible is that God is with us when we are in trouble, including depression. The message is clear. When depression hits, fix your eyes on God, His power, and His love for you. This is what God has declared:
- The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
- So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. (John 14:16)
- Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
What do I want you to take away from this blog? You are not a horrible Christian if you have been through, or you are going through depression. God does not love you any less. I also want you to know that I can testify to this: “He has turned my mourning into dancing. He has put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” I want to you know that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Though we go through dark times, God will bring us back into a time of rejoicing. Indeed, He will! When you are troubled and depressed, there is hope in God. I can testify to that!