Our theme in July is Overcoming Depression. In honor of that, I’d like to share my story of how I overcame religious confusion and disappointment in people. A disappointment that launched me into a period of depression. One of the hardest times that I’ve had in my walk with God is suffering under the burden of religious frustrations. It almost caused me to walk away until I remembered that the faith of Christ is right even if everybody doesn’t follow it. When I came to the Lord, I was so happy with church. I had great admiration for leadership and the message of Christ that was taught from the pulpit. Over the years, however, that picture eroded. As some of the pioneers died off, church splits erupted and arguments started, I was extremely disappointed in my entire religious group. For those that have never experienced religious disappointment, it can be extremely depressing. It’s a horrible feeling of uncertainty. Up to that point in my life, I had suffered hurts in many areas including health, finance, lost friendships, and misunderstandings, but I had never felt like leaving my denomination to themselves. Continue reading “LET IT GO! OVERCOMING DISAPPOINTMENT IN PEOPLE”
When a person goes through depression, often it is because of inappropriate or excessive guilt feelings. Guilt or self-blame can stem from a variety of sources. Surroundings and circumstances can overwhelm us, and problems become so internalized that the person often blames themselves for everything that is going wrong in their lives. This self-blame is a behavior that can cause ongoing bouts with depression and must be consciously put to an end. The awareness of this cycle of guilt can help victims of this emotional sabotage to overcome and lessen the effects of this line of thinking. In other words, the person should stop punishing themselves internally and realize that these problems are external. Continue reading “Inappropriate Guilt”
God spoke to my heart many years ago from the story of Elijah. In 1 Kings 19:4, when Jezebel was pursuing Elijah with soldiers, Elijah asked God to kill him because Elijah felt like death would be a better solution: “He requested for himself that he might die: and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (emphasis mine)
Don’t we feel that way sometimes? Lord, just get me out of here. I wish I could escape from this earth, this pain, this sorrow, or this problem. It surrounds me day and night. So here I sit here, night after night. Just get me out of here. I wish all this was over. I wish everyone and every thing would just go away Notice that Elijah slept! There is something about depression that makes you want to literally sleep your life away. You simply have no mental energy to get out of bed or interact with anyone.
Here’s a surefire way to beat depression, however. First, the angel told him to “arise and eat.” God wanted Elijah to get out of that place fast! The land of depression is not a place to linger. Joshua 1:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage.” So be strong even if you don’t feel strong. Feelings do not make the man. Your commitment to God makes you who you are, not how you feel. Too many of us worship the good feelings we have in serving God rather than the God we serve. God did not promise us we would always have “good vibes” while we serve Him.
God gave Elijah the nourishment he needed for the journey, and God will give you a scripture or a thought that will help you overcome. The feelings won’t go right away, so you have to push past them. Resist the temptation to stay at home, close the blinds, avoid everyone, and not answer the phone.
Unfortunately, Elijah did what a lot of us do. After receiving instruction, he ate and lay back down. So many of us after hearing the voice of God cannot get the negative thoughts out of our heads. We hear the encouragement but have often gotten ourselves in such a negative pit of wrong thinking that it takes more than a notion to get ourselves out. So God had to come to Elijah again and tell him to get up! (I Kings 19:7, “And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.”)
Once you accept the level of depression Elijah accepted, it’s hard to move from that place under the Juniper tree. But you are still saved. You are still God’s man or woman, so you must get up and shine. The world around you needs your life and testimony. So keep running for your life. God will provide you a place of safety like he did for Elijah, but to get yourself there, you have to move!
Elijah felt so alone. He thought he was the only one who stood for the Almighty. It was his baggage of self-pity that made the world seem so small. But God gave him the encouragement. He told him “I have 700 prophets who have not bowed.” The Lord knows just what it takes to encourage each of us in a personal way. The lesson from the Juniper tree is get up and find that place in God that will help you move forward.
Dr. Larry Crabb in his book “Effective Biblical Counseling” used a very key term in understanding human need. He theorizes that the two greatest needs for human beings are Significance and Security. I want to focus on this thought in terms of our theme this month—Overcoming Depression– and say that my writing this month will focus on how depressed feelings can come from not having these two needs met. I’ve heard ministers teach a pie-in-the-sky Christianity in which depression does not darken the doorstep of good solid Christians, but I see no scripture that supports this belief. I want to be clear that although below I am laying out the clinical markers for depression, we are still talking about spiritual warfare when it comes to overcoming this as a Christian. As a believer in Christ, we have additional help to overcome Depression. Webster’s dictionary defines Depression is defined as, “A mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy, feelings of sadness and gloom.” We have biblical examples of good men of God who seemed to be baffled by their situations and this resulted in feelings of sadness, gloom, or pessimism as a result. God was still on their side and did not abandon them. Continue reading “Overcoming Depression”
On this 2015 Independence Day weekend let us remember to pray. As Christians we pray not only for ourselves but for those around us. We need to pray in our personal trouble times as well as times our nation is in trouble. My thought today is that God receives our prayers.
In this Psalms David is in great distress because of his enemies. If we study the life of David we will see that he had developed a dependence on God in times of distress. David also had great confidence that God would first, hear him, and then, that He would receive his prayers. Often people look at prayer as just words said in private, or maybe just in your thoughts. But David talks of tears and deep communion with God.
The word receive in this scripture is defined in the original language as something “captured, seized, fetched, to go and get, or take”. If we live right, God will actually take our prayers in his hand, he will come from on high and go get them, to take care of them. Often our children ask us for things (and as certain holidays seasons come or even their birthday, there is certainly more begging) and in order to remember them, we write it down. As a parent, that is our way of making sure those requests are a taken care of. We take those concerns into our own hands, only because it is in our power to grant their needs or wants. We are their source of receiving. “Mom, I want a bike”, “Dad, I need $10 by Friday for school”. We may not be able to supply that need, at that moment, but wetake it in hand we write it down in our thoughts for future action.
When I am an obedient child of God, he will take my prayers in hand, write them down, and at his own time, take care of those needs.
If I cannot pray with deep assurance that God will answer, then I need to find what may be breaking my communion with him.
Here’s a clue,
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (St. John 15:7)
Today is a beautiful day because I know God has written down my needs.