In Need of Strategies to Combat Depression?
Many people have had a bout with combatting depression. Depression whether caused by death, loss, or anxiety, is something we all suffer from on occasion. For others, they may be combatting depression as the result of medications, antibiotics, or nutritional deficiencies. And, depression manifests itself in different ways with different people. For some it is just a grey cloud of fatigue and frustration that turns even the simplest tasks into arduous chores. While others, men in particular, who are feeling depressed, may just become angry and irritable. But we are not alone in this fight, and God has given us stories of combatting depression to encourage us to overcome.
Lessons from Elijah
Elijah was a man who understood depression, and God helped him to take steps to change his outlook. Often depression can knock us out when we have success followed by some great fear or failure. This was Elijah’s situation. God had defeated the prophets of Baal by answering Elijah’s prayer. But, this also made Elijah a wanted man with a price on his head, for Jezebel was determined to kill him. In response Elijah fled and ended up in the desert wishing he could die there. But God did some practical things to help Elijah deal with his depression. He fed him miraculously and renewed his strength. Then the Lord bolstered Elijah’s faith, and gave Elijah a job to do. The Lord reminded Elijah that he was not alone in his fight with Jezebel. In fact there were 7,000 faithful people who were still serving the Lord God.
When the Burden Seems Too Big
When we are depressed we need to remember this wisdom from the scriptures. We need to care for our bodies with good nutrition, we need to plan positive activities, and we need to remember we are not alone. God will hear our prayers, and we can reach out to others who share our hope in God. God has work for us to do, and when we change our focus, we will be combatting depression.
Moses was depressed by the burden he had to bear in leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. He felt that he could not take care of them properly – the load was too heavy. In his depressed state he went so far as to ask God to kill him. Even God was angry with the people for their constant whining and bickering, so he could understand the depth of Moses’ emotion. But God had a practical solution. He would give Moses the assistants he needed to lead the people, and a system to help with teaching and governing them. When we are depressed we need to call out to God in prayer and ask for what we need. God hears the heartfelt prayers of those who are trying to serve him. We can trust him to provide help to bear the burden of our responsibilities, so they do not crush us, or cause us to despair. And sometimes what we need is a friend, a confidante, a counsellor, or family member to talk to who will help us regain our zest for living.
Finding a Path Forward
David, was another servant of God, who found himself combatting depression. We know from his Psalms that he often faced physical danger and great emotional turmoil. At times he felt paralyzed by fear, and hopeless in the face of his challenges. David’s solution was to talk to God about his distress, and pray for correction, guidance, and God’s spirit to help him do God’s will. Like David, sometimes we are depressed because we cannot see a path forward. In such times we need to look to God in faith for help to plan our steps and take a positive course of action.
David chose to meditate about God’s goodness and all the ways in which God had helped him in the past. This spirit of gratitude was vital in helping David regain his mental equilibrium and overcome depressive thoughts. Paul echoed David’s sentiments when he penned his letter to the Philippians. It is thankfulness and an appreciation of God’s blessings that helps us overcome anxious thoughts and helps us find the peace of God that will guard our hearts and minds. Combatting depression is often a concerted effort to guard our mind and thoughts by consciously choosing to meditate on what is good. And guarding our hearts and emotions with a spirit of gratitude, and a heartfelt appreciation for God’s gift of life.
Humility, Repentance, and Forgiveness
We may feel depressed when we have disobeyed God and fallen short of his expectations for us as his children. The scriptures give us stories about combatting depression when we have sinned. Saul’s story is one of covering up his sin, blaming others, and failing to see his error and have a change of heart. As a result he was depressed and fearful. David, however, acknowledged his sin, recognized his rebellion, and was deeply sorrowful over the evil he had done. His broken repentant heart and humility were the keys to change and overcoming the burden of guilt and depression. God heard David’s prayer for forgiveness, for God will not reject a repentant heart. His mercy gives us confidence and renewed joy in life, so we can learn from our errors and not repeat them.
Finding a Vision and Endurance
Yet sometimes we find ourselves depressed because of distressing circumstances beyond our control. At these times we need to look to Jesus’ example. Though he lived a perfect life, he still suffered greatly, but he was not overwhelmed or depressed. Why? He had a clear vision of the future that helped him discipline his mind and emotions. He had his eyes fixed on his Father, and he trusted in the promise of eternal life that awaits those who endure suffering. If we gain a clearer vision of the glory that God has in store for his people, it will give us greater hope. Then we will not give up in our battle of combatting depression.
Healing Mind, Body, and Spirit
Healing Mind Body and Spirit