Apr 21, 2013

A biblical take on depression... and my personal experience...

Depression... oh how I hate that word...

The dictionary defines this word as a condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty maintaining concentration or interest in life... or feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy... 

True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.

Sound familiar?

I found some disturbing facts about this disorder at www.depressionperception.com... 
  • 90% of suicide victims (in the US I believe) have a diagnosable mental disorder.
  • Over 18 million Americans age 18 & older, in a given year, have a depressive disorder.
  • Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, geographic location, or social position.
  • Depressive disorders are appearing earlier in life, with the average age of onset 50 years ago being 29... whereas recent statistics indicate it being as low as 14.5 years old...
  • Nearly twice as many women as men are affected by a depressive disorder each year.
  • Women between the ages of 25-44 are most often affected by depression - with their major cause of depression being the inability to express or handle anger.
  • Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders & substance abuse.
  • Up to 2.5% of children in the United States suffer from depression.
  • Suicide is often the result of extended periods of depression.
These are some staggering numbers... and just further proof that we live in a fallen world. I truly believe spiritual warfare needs to be considered when looking at depression... Satan has power over the earth & his mission is to steal, kill, & destroy... so of course he loves it when children of God are hopeless & considering ending their own lives!

I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist, but I've ridden these waves personally... so I feel that I have a right to speak on the matter & attempt to offer a little hope to anyone suffering with this.

IMPORTANT: If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts PLEASE call your doctor and take the pills they prescribe you and talk openly with a trusted christian therapist who has experience dealing with this ASAP! 

Don't try to be a hero and refuse medical counsel because you believe you shouldn't need it as a christian... I'll be the first to say that GOD HEALS, but until you've received leading from Him to let go of medical interventions... and it's perfectly obvious that it's no longer needed... appreciate the counsel you're given and consider that, at this point, that could be God's answer for easing your struggles... at least for now!

I'm only going to offer 3 tips here on how to acquire some peace for your soul (& improve your perspective). Believe it or not, none of them have anything to do with forcing happy thoughts or just sucking it up... I'm going to direct you exactly where we ALL need to be directed... to the love, grace, & healing of our Father God.

#1 {Give thanks}

This one has been obvious to me since reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by: Ann Voskamp... as well the devotional, with room to list 1,000 'gifts' (things you're thankful for) at the end!

For some reason this exercise is easy to forget when we're stuck in a rut though... and sometimes bad things (or bad moods) just happen... 

I suppose, in those moments, the last thing anyone would want to do is make a list of things they should be thankful for - but I had to mention this after something incredible I read in the 1,000 gifts devotional 2 nights ago... read it slowly... more than once ; )

"That which I refuse to thank Christ for,

I refuse to believe He can redeem..."

Ouch! So... I ended up writing down a prayer of thanks to God for this season of depression/anger in my life... which was completely opposite of the bitterness I was feeling toward Him for allowing it in the first place, but those words changed my perspective and reminded me to trust Him who can cause all things for my good! 

I thanked Him for how He will strengthen me & teach me new things & enable me to encourage others through this hardship... and I was then able to remember all the things I have to be thankful for today... & everyday! 

Somebody else always has it worse off than you - we can all think of 'something' or 'someone' in our life to be thankful for. To thank God for... Make a list & put it where you'll see it often.

#2 {Start your day out right} 

Just yesterday I was getting ready to go out for family-night... after battling intense feelings of anger, anxiety, & hopelessness for more than a week... when out of nowhere God gave me a very timely tool... but I like to refer to it as a weapon... for warfare :)

I got thinking about the 'putting on the full armor of God' verses... and considered how it'd make way more sense to have that armor on BEFORE rushing into your day so that any arrows or wiles of the enemy could be deflected off your armor... opposed to putting it on late in the afternoon or in the evening and spending all that time mending & being confused about what went wrong all day & why you felt so unprepared! 

God has something to teach us & would love to meet with us first thing in the morning to prepare us for our day! Although we have no idea what we might have to face, he does! 

Satan will do his best to distract us from this precious time - he'll encourage us to stay up late so we're too sleepy for a morning quiet-time, distract us, & try to confuse us. We need to fight for this time! It's so worth it...

#3 {Worship the Lord}

After a fun time with my family swimming together & going out for supper & ice cream last night... we ended up randomly watching Hillsong singing 'Mighty to Save' on tv... and afterward realized they were replaying a teaching by Louie Giglio from Hillsong Conference 2012 in Australia entitled 'Symphony'. 

I was moved to tears on multiple occasions because it was such a beautiful & timely message! I had no doubt God was sharing truth with me through the words I was hearing. 

I was reminded that, in an old testament battle, they were completely outnumbered... and God had them send out their worshipers to the front-lines!!! 

The armies that were coming against them started to attack themselves and killed each other off... and the small army of God came out victorious because they obeyed God & worshiped Him!

There are many ways we can worship & bring honor to God (serving others, giving to the poor, sharing the good news), but I want to focus on us singing praises to Him for this tool. 

I believe a big part of why singing praise is so important is because we're declaring truth & His goodness verbally... through our song. 

There is SO much power in the spoken word (Prvbs 18:21) & singing praises is definitely a beautiful way to declare truth. 

Sing it out loud, listen to it, & soak it all in...

My favorite quote in the teaching was: "When you start singing praises to God... satan doesn't SING along... He MOVES along!!!"

{Listen to: New Song We Sing by: Meredith Andrews}
A song that was 'randomly' playing in the background as I wrote this section until I actually listened to the words of the chorus & realized that this was a gift from God for me & for you!

Each of these things are ways I have personally been able to get a breath of air while otherwise drowning in feelings of frustration & hopelessness. Seek & you will find... God will throw you a life-line when you feel that everyone else is against you... He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is your biggest fan & loves you more than you could ever fathom or comprehend. He is worthy of our trust & devotion. 

Depression seems to generally come when we focus on ourselves & all our hurts & issues, but I'm challenging you to put your focus on Christ & His goodness & allow Him to heal your heart. Don't give up, there's always hope. With Christ all things are possible. You are loved & being prayed for... Blessings.

"Lord thank-you for being for us & not against us. Remind us to seek Your face & lay all our cares at your feet. Lighten our load by reminding us that you already died for all this. Give us wisdom as we seek care & counsel. Bring encouragers & prayer-warriors into our lives to help hold us up & we go through this adventure called life. In Your precious name Lord, amen."

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