Monday, August 18, 2014

Removing Oppression from Depression

 Can Christians truly have depression? Truly, David experienced anguish and despair, just read the Psalms and Job was definitely down-trodden but was it depression? 

 The answer from my years of wrestling with depression since before my teen years and self-examination is that it is possible. We do live in a fallen world that is not improving despite our human advances. My naivete when I was first saved led me to think that somehow my life would be put right instantly and it was...just not this side of heaven. 

 Shame is the dominating feeling you have when you cannot just "get over it" as a Christian and no one really talks about what you should do to get over it. Doubts crept in about my salvation as I struggled. Am I not Christian enough? Do I not do enough studying, praying, etc?

 Here is the truth: Christ did all the work and He continues to do the work. Most certainly studying and praying are powerful. Examining yourself through His work and His Word brings assurance when you are truly saved but it may not bring immediate relief of struggles or hardships. 

 God does not always remove sufferings right away not because He is cruel but because He knows it is the best tool to teach us to trust Him, to sanctify us, and for purposes only He can understand. In this process, He has grown me and the depression is not the same caliber it was once. The nothingness is definitely gone and it does not trap me because there is hope. So, what sustains this hope?

 The answer is Truth. The armor of God is our sole protection. When my thoughts begin to swirl with all kinds of negativity, the helmet reminds me that I need not despair, I am already saved. Gathering up all the loose and wild ends, I buckle them down with the belt of Truth. The breastplate of righteousness protects me from the deceptiveness of the heart and feelings. Not letting depression's burdensome shame hold me captive, I run in my shoes of readiness and cover ground for God. Going before me is the shield of faith so that I can progress through the battle without fatal blows. And to lop off the lies and put sin to death, I wield Scripture, my sword. To keep me from discouragement, I pray but I also open the door and let others in to pray. But do not misunderstand me, this is no easy battle. Many days, I can be battle-worn and the arrows may have not pierced me but I still felt their impact.

  Remember the joy. At times, I have had brief moments of joy and depression at the same time. You may not feel happy but do not believe for one second that depression can override the joy of the Lord. It is not much different than when you worship in church and a sinful thought slips in. It is learning to put all things into submission to Christ. Thinking of all Christ did can return you to putting the joy back in view even if you are feeling down. Lay it at His feet and confess that you know He is in control.

 Understand God's creation of you. Some of us are more sensitive and our feelings about everything run very deep. In the past, I tried to cover this characteristic up but it has value if you start understanding it in the light of Truth. Sometimes those feelings have to be replaced with Truth, i.e. thinking no one likes me or replaying something I said because I am worried that it was not the right thing to say. Quickly catch those thoughts, examine them and sort them out. 

 Serve the Lord. Sometimes I just need to pick myself up and do something for the Lord because I have sat too long with myself and my thoughts. My brain is much better when I am about the Lord's work because my thoughts can be too busy and loud when they do not have a focus.

 Implant Truth. Having verses or just knowing enough of the Bible to walk yourself through chapters and books has helped. On bad days, when evil thoughts bounce around from my past and my mind will not let me read, I talk to myself, saying verses or starting in Genesis, going through all I know while walking or driving. Reminding myself, every few minutes, that these things are true and my thoughts are not helps me learn to recognize trouble quicker. Usually, within in 10-15 minutes I have forgotten the sinister thing and find myself humming or singing. Days have come where I have had to walk or drive several times. During all this, I usually text a friend or 2 or 3 and ask for prayer. 

 Have no excuses. Know that the oppression from depression can be removed but you need to be willing to admit your struggle, talk to other Christians, be diligent in studying, and persevering. If you are saved, it should be your desire to glorify God so dig into the Word that you might see rightly and walk rightly and be surrendered rightly. After doing all this, if you find that you are still struggling too much, get examined and check for medical reasons. Let there be no excuse for not serving the Lord and your church as a tool used by God.

 If you are separated from God, then I plead with you to seek to know Him and be in the Body where hope overflows and in Christ, there is rejoicing in life eternal and hope for a true everlasting peace. 
Today is a good day to praise God

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