Recently one of my friends on WordPress has been writing about depression, and it got me thinking about my struggles over the years with this very common problem. There was never a time when I was diagnosed with it clinically, but then again I never asked anyone’s opinion. As I look back at the last few years I can see depression rearing its ugly head frequently and on one particular day, to the point that I wanted to end my own life.
In this clip from the weekly podcast I share that day…
In today’s secular world if you are diagnosed with depression you are likely to be given prescription drugs like Prozac or Zoloft, which may not be addictive like hardcore drugs, but could easily become “necessary” in the mind of the user to subdue depressive thoughts, not to mention you always have to be mindful of harmful side effects. My advice to Christians is to follow the medical advice you are given, but don’t be shy about getting a second or third opinion… and tread carefully with prescription drug use.
In this article I want to ask the question, do we have to live with depression? Then I hope to give you some answers you may not have considered.
This article is geared towards Christians suffering with depression and we should understand it can express itself in many ways. Additionally there are many different types of depression from “clinical” or diagnosed to the sadness people experience when life plays hard ball. Many people suffer from the very real illness of depression while others may be depressed over a spiritual condition (attack of the enemy), or due to a set of circumstances in their lives.
Along with the different types of depression there is a varied response to depression from the church, depending on who you ask. Some people will say it is sinful to be depressed and not trust in the Lord while others classify all depression as a mental health issue and discount the very real spiritual war we are engaged in. The bottom line, this is a very complex issue, and one article cannot possibly cover this subject matter in any meaningful way. So that is not my goal today. Here I just want to offer a glimmer of hope for those Christians in the world who have a hard time processing the difficulties we face each day.
This article is not a replacement for medical advice
Note: I want to be very clear, that medical professionals are a very important tool God uses to minister healing to the world. If you are diagnosed with clinical depression or believe you should be, I encourage you to seek and follow a medical treatment plan.
Maybe you are a Christian who has a troubled marriage, stressful days at work, financial problems, a secret sin you are dealing with or perhaps your children have you at your wits end. There are a million possible scenarios, but do you ever just want to to scream ENOUGH! Are you tired of being run down, depressed and miserable every day?
Aside from the children, each of those areas was a reflection of my life and there were SO many days I just couldn’t take it. Life sucks. When is Jesus coming back anyway? These are the thoughts that would course through my mind on a good day… on a bad day? You’re pathetic, you’re a loser, your family would be better off with you dead, just kill yourself and be done with it all.
My wife helped me work through a lot of these issues. She would say things like “you have the power to feel any way you want to feel, so choose”! HOW DARE SHE SAY THAT!!!! But after my pride recovered, and my bruised ego deflated… I knew she was right. How did I know? Because I tried exactly what she said, I changed my mind.
And it worked.
This doesn’t stop a depressing thought from entering my mind, or the fact that my job can really stress me out if I let it… but it does give me hope for all future days. You did it before Keith and you can do it again… don’t like the way you are feeling then STOP it. Break up the patterns of negative thinking and…
Start living with an “eternity” mindset.
Now before many of you jump out of your chairs screaming at your computer… you might say “oh sure just CHOOSE not to be depressed, what a FANTASTIC idea, it never occurred to me!” or “who the heck does this guy think he is, he was obviously never REALLY depressed in the first place.”
If planning to go to a remote desert location with a handgun to shoot myself in the head doesn’t qualify as depressed, then maybe you should revoke my membership card. As a matter of fact I will cut it up with scissors right now, I never liked that club anyway… and I never liked that label.
If however, you are still with me, and looking for that glimmer of hope. Let me encourage you to look ahead… just a wee bit, to the eternity in front of you.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…
“In the hinterlands of Pommerania, there is a mountain made of the hardest diamond. It’s one hour deep into the earth, one hour up toward the sky, one hour long and one hour wide. To this mountain comes a little bird, once every hundred years, to sharpen its beak. And when this bird has worn away the whole mountain, the first second of eternity has passed.”
Our human minds cannot possibly fathom what an eternity really looks or feels like, but we can see time passing here on Earth, and let me tell you… the older you get, the faster it flies right by. Or perhaps we just become more keenly aware of its passing, that must be it, I’m sure the seconds of the clock still take the same time they did when I was 19.
As Christians we should take a special interest in eternity, as it will change the way we see our time right now, here on Earth. Often at work I feel stressed, but when I want to, I can ask myself a question… “this thing at work, will it really matter in 2 weeks?
2 months? 2 years? 2 decades? and if it doesn’t really matter then, why do I let it stress me out right now?”
The answer is simple. I don’t have to let it stress me out, get me depressed or feeling sad. I can choose to stay focused on things that are really important. Eternity-minded things. Let’s face it, as Christians we proclaim some pretty lofty beliefs to the world. We proudly claim of the risen Christ. We tell the world of our savior (at least we should) and how His blood erased our sins past, present and future. We claim to believe we are going to Heaven to spend FOREVER with Jesus… but do we REALLY believe that?
Belief could be defined as something you claim with your mind and follow through with your actions. As a real world example… if you take a plate off the hot stove and turn off the burner… I would be willing to bet you wouldn’t touch that stove for quite a while, as you believe it will burn you badly. That’s a good way to live life! But as Christians we tend to do the opposite… we CLAIM to believe the stove is hot then go about touching the stove all day long! Meaning our actions don’t line with the beliefs we proclaim.
The hard truth – is often the hardest to swallow
If Jesus came down right now, knocked on my door, came inside my home and sat down with me… He might look me in the eyes and say “Keith, time is short my child. I have given you great news to share of my second coming and yet you sit here sad about your life.” In that moment, I would break down crying asking Him to forgive me AGAIN. I know because in my mind this conversation has happened more than once.
Friends, as Christians we have AMAZING, GREAT NEWS to share with the world. We don’t have time to sit around in self-pity, self-misery and sadness. WE have been REDEEMED, we are Children of the Most High God. We are ADOPTED into the Royal Family of God. We were put here to TELL people of the Jesus we love so much, so if you are down in a dark pit of despair and don’t know how to get out. Look up. You will find the hand of Jesus waiting to lift you up and out of that darkness.
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