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"Dealing With Diminished Light:
Some notes on the Doldrums and Depressions"
by Barbara Smith
We live in a fallen world. We get drawn into difficulty - emotional, physical and mental situations that *will* drain our reserves IF we don't turn to God. REMEMBER: Depression is real and God's people are not immune from real problems!
Depression may cripple us because of our stage of life:
This realization may be one of three things:
- NONE of us is as young as we used to be.
- NONE of us has exactly what she thought she wanted out of life
- NONE of us has been perfectly successful in everything we've done.
So -- get with God, give HIM the depression -- He already knows about it, for He allowed it. Now, get busy and if it is appropriate, run your thoughts by another Christian whom you trust. NEVER underestimate that real physical ailments will cause emotional depression! Don't overlook what a thorough checkup may produce. Ask God to show you this, for God built you for HIS glory.
- It may be a gift from God to convict us of something that needs attention;
- It may be a weapon in the hands of the Enemy -- or
- It may be a weapon we are using against ourselves.
A Concrete Solution to do now:
Get out your Bible and see how others struggled. Be encouraged! This is a decision --MAKE IT.
If you don't know where to turn, turn to Psalm 119:25-35. This man of God was DEPRESSED! So God is not shocked when you tell Him you are down.
When you have reviewed this passage, humbly ask God what applies and that He will apply it to your heart. Then, sleep, eat and exercise the body God gave you. If some of the wires in your mind body and spirit get crossed from time to time, don't despair. You may not be doing anything wrong at all, it may just be the day of the week -- or the result of stress or indigestion.
- "My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Thy word."
Sucking dust: that about describes me on a bad day! But our God is in the business of revival. Have you asked Him to breathe on you, blowing away the dust and debris of defeat and disappointment?
- "I have told of my ways, and Thou hast answered me; teach me Thy statutes."
God's faithful servants do get tired, and their work can get to them. See Elijah and Jeremiah. These men went back to the word. If you haven't met with the Lord recently, DO IT, and with an open BIBLE.
- "Make me understand the way of Thy precepts, so I will meditate on Thy wonders."
When I hurt, I am dull-witted and consumed by the difficulties. How about you? He WILL take your eyes off your pain and give you something else to think about, sometimes one minute at a time. We must ask HIM!
- "My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word."
God doesn't condemn a grieving heart -- or a heavy-laden heart; He invites us to COME to Him. He is never repulsed by our troubles -- He just wants us to let go of them. Letting go of heartaches doesn't mean God will forget whom or what cause our pain, either.
- "Remove the false way from me, and graciously grant me Thy law."
Agree with God: you are a sinner, you have done so by thought, word and deed, against His divine Law. You and I HAVE followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts and there IS NO health in you.
My blackest moments have come because of my own willfulness -- This may or may not be where you are, someone may have wronged you. - - So, if you have confessed, repented of sins real or imagined, get up for Christ does NOT accuse his own.
LOOK UP into the night sky tonight for the God who hung those twinkling little lights
has not yet lost one, and He has no intention of LOSING YOU!
- "I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Thine ordinances before me."
The pastor suggested the following: Deal with your feelings until you can honestly PRAISE God for His goodness to you today. On one dark day, all I could say was, "Thank you Jesus for saving me . . ." And I repeated that until the darkness began to melt in the warmth of His love for me in Christ
- "I cleave to Thy testimonies; O LORD, do not put me to shame!"
What are you stuck to? If it isn't God, you are gonna feel bad. For your object of devotion is an idol. God is jealous of your heart, whether your little ol' idol is acceptable in the world's sight, like academics, a good job, dieting, or even teaching Sunday school, or offensive like gluttony or adultery.
Read the word.
Turn off TV; put away the novels and SING praises for HE will defeat your enemies.
- "I shall run the way of Thy commandments, for Thou wilt enlarge my heart."
Get some exercise -- up and down on the knees is a good start -- walk into a hospital or nursing home and remember today God is preserving you from --- and for -- and practice an attitude of gratitude.
- "Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end."
Be willing to learn, for God is a trustworthy and winsome teacher. Unlike me, He never gets frustrated.
Be willing to obey what He shows you, too. That's always the tough one for me.
- "Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law, and keep it with all my heart."
Ask God to make the source and solution for your pain real plain. Then -- DO what HE says.
- "Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it."
Ask God to give you an appetite for Himself.
Remember, whatever you are facing today, just may be a little ole pop quiz from your heavenly Father - to see who you'll obey: the world, the flesh or the devil, or the gracious God who is leading you into the desert of depression to see whom who you will obey. You can a lot even from a test, even from failing tests.
One unpleasant symptom of my own impending depression is the gnawing feeling that I am not getting what I deserve: respect, praise, money, time, food, help. I guess "MY way" is a useful catchall descriptive phrase. That vague feeling becomes a burning sentiment -- anger, or frustration, then bitterness. And then I act or speak. Nothing edifying has EVER come out of my mouth at those times. Usually, I KNOW immediately I blew it, but getting me to confess and repent isn't always so easy. So, I experience GUILT, usually without remorse. Then the blackness billows in, suffocating me.
I have been a Christian for almost twenty years, and the notion of DOING God's will and not my own always has so many fresh new dimensions. If HE had shown me exactly what my heart looked like when I surrendered to Him, the shock of its grotesqueness would surely have killed me. Learning of its twists and turns *is* depressing.
I am learning that being covered by the Blood, doesn't mean a free pass to keep the old me under wraps. SHE'S GOT TO GO! Yet I hold on and hold on, out of the firm conviction, that if I let go of her, then who will I be? I will be more like Jesus. HIS lovely character will be evident -- INCREASING. He must increase; I must decrease!
So now, when my nose starts to twitch because someone really has -- or I IMAGINE -- that someone has crossed me and denied me my "entitlements," God has finally gotten through to my dense brain and thick heart to show me I have a choice how to respond.
Helping another to respond, walking step by step with another sister or a child who is in the very real depths of depression is, however, a delicate business. I am not, nor should I ever try to play, the Holy Spirit -- I've done and said many unkind and unfair things while laboring under the delusion I could "fix" another's problem. That's why I am also learning about prayer. I pray that God will be so real that the ones I love, who are unable to step out of the darkness into the Light of Christ, will be able to do so by HIS power and not my persuasion. But this too is a test, to know when to speak and when to keep silent.
If anything, then, depression is not an UNCOMMON affliction within the Body of Christ. Perhaps it was a thorn in Paul's side? If what I said strikes a chord in the dear downcast heart of one reading this, I pray that she will lift her eyes to her heavenly Father who knows all about her anguish and delights to comfort her.
© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.
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