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Faithlife

When the Darkness will not Lift

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It is technically called depression, but it can’t be captured by a word. You feel numb, yet your head hurts; empty, yet inside there are screams; fatigue, yet fears abound. Things that were once pleasures now barely hold your attention. Your brain feels like it is in a fog. You feel weighted down.
Do you remember when you had goals? Things that you looked forward to? They could have been as small as going to a movie on Friday night or a job you wanted to accomplish. Now you have very few goals. Making it through the day seems like enough.
Do you notice what life feels like without goals? Every day is the same. There is no rhythm of rising anticipation, satisfaction, then rest. Each day brings a dreadful monotony, and you fear that tomorrow will be the same as today. The flatness of life feels like it is killing you.
Sleep? It’s a mess. You can’t get enough. You don’t even remember what it feels like to wake up refreshed.
Have you ever seen Pablo Picasso’s paintings from his blue period? If you find a book on Picasso you might want to take a look. The pictures are not encouraging but you would, at least, find that you are not alone. Triggered by a difficult relationship, he did a series of paintings where people looked lifeless and everything was in shades of blue and gray. Was he putting his feelings into his art, or was he faithfully presenting the world as he actually saw it? Either way, there are no sun splashed days with depression, just dreary overcast skies and a dull colorless world.
into his art, or was he faithfully presenting the world as he actually saw it? Either way, there are no sun splashed days with depression, just dreary overcast skies and a dull colorless world.
Picasso wasn’t the only one who struggled with what has come to be known as depression. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon, missionary David Brainard, and Bible translator J. B. Phillips were some of the more well-known and accomplished people who talked and wrote about their struggles. So although you may feel alone, many have walked the path before, and many are walking it now.
I am not here to propose a technique but to present a tried and true person; Jesus.
Some people say, “Jesus doesn’t work,” “I’ve tried Him and I am still just as depressed.” But consider this: Jesus claims to be the way, truth, life, source of hope, lover of our souls, servant, brother, friend, the one who hears and acts, the one who never leaves. No therapy or medication makes such bold claims.
If Jesus and the teachings of Scripture seem like hollow platitudes to you—and perhaps they do—remember that everything sounds somewhat empty to you right now. What may seem trite now will be profound as you begin to be certain of its reality.
Here is the problem. Most people do things because they feel like doing them. They get up in the morning because they feel like going to work, or they feel like avoiding the boss’s questions when they are late, or they feel like avoiding poverty. We are more feelingdriven than we think.
In depression, you don’t feel. (Or, whatever you do feel isn’t going to motivate you to do anything profitable. For example, you feel like dying, screaming, running, disappearing, avoiding). How can feeling-driven people set goals, have purpose, or get motivated when they don’t feel?
Feelings are a gateway into depression while faith is our guide out of it. We must learn to believe and act on what God says rather than feel what God says. This is living by faith. To paraphrase , “faith is being certain of what we do not feel.
In other words, when there is a debate between what your feelings say and what Scripture says, Scripture wins. Any other result and you are essentially telling God that He is not to be trusted.
Here is an example of this new way of living. You feel like you have no purpose and no hope. There is no reason to get out of bed, work, love, or live. You feel it in your entire being. God, however, counters these feelings on every page of Scripture. For example,
1 Peter 1:22 ESV
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
). That is
That is a purpose statement. It is a reason to get out of bed. You have to fight the paralyzing feelings so you can love another person. Why bother? Because it is your personal commission from God Himself, the King of kings.
If you are the King’s servant—and you are—and He asks you to do something, you have just been given a purpose for living. It is only when the King says that He doesn’t need you anymore that your purpose is done, and this, of course, will never happen with the true God. He says that His purposes for you last all eternity.
To put your purpose in the broadest terms, your job is to glorify and enjoy God
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Cori To glorify God means to make His name famous. His honor and His reputation become more important than your own.
To glorify God means to make His name famous. His honor and His reputation become more important than your own.
To glorify God. Does it sound like a cliché? Although it sounds impractical, it is actually very concrete. It is carried out in small, sometimes private steps of faith and obedience. Other people may not see it, but if you do anything because of Jesus and what Jesus did for you—from combing your hair to selling everything you have and being a missionary—then you bring glory to God.
Do you want a tangible incentive? There is good evidence in Scripture that when you seek God and His kingdom, your troubles will become lighter
2 Corinthians 4:16–17 ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
).

The Roots of Depression

Physical

EATING

What researchers know, and most people assume, is that individuals with excess weight often suffer from depression. What is less clear is which comes first. Could the effects of being seriously overweight directly lead to depression, or does depression itself cause excess weight gain in the first place? Probably, the answers are “yes” and “yes,” and it may not matter in any practical sense. Depression and weight gain go hand-in-hand.
Proverbs 23:2 ESV
and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.
Proverbs 23:20–21 ESV
Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Proverbs 23:21 ESV
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

EXERCISE

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Timothy 4:8 ESV
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

ENVIRONMENT

ELIXIR

What are the Best Preservatives against Melancholy and Overmuch Sorrow?” If other means will not do, neglect not medicine; and though they will be averse to it, as believing that the disease is only in the mind, they must be persuaded or forced to it. I have known the lady deep in melancholy, who a long time would neither speak, nor take physic, nor endure her husband to go out of the room, and with the restraint and grief he died, and she was cured by physic put down her throat with a pipe by force.

Spiritual

Spiritual

SIN

Psalm 51:7–12 ESV
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

SATAN

Satan “possesseth only the souls of the ungodly,” nevertheless he “maketh too frequent motions to the faithful.” These “motions” can include bodily diseases (he notes the book of Job as an example), but Satan also causes temptations and can inject streams of sinful and blasphemous thoughts and doubts into the mind. Baxter carefully states that Satan “cannot do what he will with us, but what we give him advantage to do. He cannot break open our doors, but he can enter if we leave them open. He can easily tempt a ... phlegmatic body to sloth ... a choleric person to anger ... a sanguine man to lust ...”
It is important to note that we do not deal with Satan, authoritatively addressing him directly and commanding him in the method of some today. Instead, he seeks to get us to “close the doors” that we have left open for Satan.
Baxter deals with satanic activity by telling the troubled person not to feel guilty for the blasphemous imaginations and thoughts (which come from Satan), as long as he does not act on them.
But I add, God will not impute [Satan’s] mere temptations to you, but to [Satan], be they ever so bad, as long as you receive them not by the will, but hate them.
Baxter’s balance here is intriguing. He does not believe satanic activity should be ignored in diagnosis or treatment. He comforts the afflicted person by showing him Satan’s hand in his troubles. He confronts demonic activity through bold prayer and encourages the believer to use the authority he has for spiritual conflict. He shows the believer how to eliminate the “footholds” that he has given Satan (such as bitterness, Ephesians 4:27; , ). Yet Baxter does not see “demon possession” as the major cause of any Christian’s problem. Lovelace draws on the Puritan approach when he says, “the ordinary remedy may not be exorcism but counseling into the fullness of Christ, including an understanding of our authority against demonic agents and a stance of resistance against them in contested areas of personality.

SITUATION

The Remedies for Depression

Seek His Balm

Psalm 34:18 ESV
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 42:1–3 ESV
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
Psalm 42:1–2 ESV
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1–2 ESV
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm

See His Beauty

Psalm 27:4 ESV
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 96:5–6 ESV
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Beauty is serves as a strength that can lift us out of our darkness. Beauty soothes our busy and anxious hearts. Creation soothes our souls because it is a reflection and reminder of our Creators majesty.
See His beauty in creation and in Christ.
Isaiah 53:2 ESV
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isaiah 53
His beauty was not found in body but in what He bought. Christ died to make us human again. Our humanity is marred by the fall. We are not who we were intended to be.
Allow me for a moment to return to analogy from several weeks ago. In the story “Beauty and the Beast” the Beast is struggling with what could be called depression. He is isolated, angry, and reclusive. All of which meet the definition of a clinical diagnosis. Why is he depressed? He is not what he once was. He is less than human.
Then providence brings “Beauty” into his life. She gives him hope that he can be human again. He now believes that it’s possible to return to what once was. Salvation does not resuce from our humanity but brings us into it’s fullness.
When we're human again Only human again When the girl fin'lly sets us all free Cheeks a-bloomin' again We're assumin' again We'll resume our long lost joie de vie We'll be playin' again Holiday' again And we're prayin' it's A-S-A-P When we cast off this pall We'll stand straight, we'll walk tall When we're all that we were Thanks to him, thanks to her Coming closer and closer And closer and...
We'll be dancing again! We'll be twirling again! We'll be whirling around with such ease When we're human again Only human again We'll go waltzing those old one-two-threes We'll be floating again! We'll be gliding again! Stepping, striding as fine as you please Like a real human does I'll be all that I was On that glorious morn When we're fin'lly reborn And we're all of us human again!
Our strength to prevail will be determined by the degree of His beauty that we behold. If we give oursleves over to His beauty will protect oursleves from a sinful cause of some depression; boredom.
Boredom is a by-product of familiarity. We can only become familiar that which is finite. Only in Christ can boredom be dashed because He is infinite, thus He can never be boring.

Soak in the Bible

While you develop a clear statement of purpose, you should have someone help you refine it, remind you of it, and read it to you. At that point, your job will be to listen. You have been listening to your own thoughts, but now you must listen to what God says in His Word and what God says through people.
Listening sounds passive, but it is hard work. The book of James reminds us that we are prone to “merely listen,” like people who look at ourselves in a mirror and quickly forget what we look like. So when you read or hear about truth and love, don’t just merely listen; really hear.
Keep listening, though. Even though you may feel rejected by others, Jesus won’t reject you
Psalm 27:10 ESV
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.
). Turn to Him in faith—even with a small speck of
Turn to Him in faith—even with a small speck of faith—and He will never leave or forsake you
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
). He swears this to you. Love doesn’t always move you? Consider this. In His presence is love that will take all eternity to begin to comprehend. If it doesn’t move you now, it will. His love is like that of a good parent for a child who doesn’t understand the details of parental love. In other words, the child may occasionally think that the parent is unloving, but the parent’s love is too elaborate and beautiful for the child to understand. The child is griefstricken because he can no longer play in the mud, but the parent is cleaning him up for a trip to Disneyland. If you can’t see this love, then keep listening to the gospel. That is, according to the plan of God, Jesus died for sinners like us. This is a wonderful and deep love. If it doesn’t sound wonderful, then perhaps you have forgotten that you are a sinner. Jesus, after all, didn’t die for good people who needed a spiritual boost; He died to bring alienated and condemned enemies into His family.
He swears this to you. Love doesn’t always move you?
Consider this. In His presence is love that will take all eternity to begin to comprehend. If it doesn’t move you now, it will. His love is like that of a good parent for a child who doesn’t understand the details of parental love. In other words, the child may occasionally think that the parent is unloving, but the parent’s love is too elaborate and beautiful for the child to understand. The child is grief stricken because he can no longer play in the mud, but the parent is cleaning him up for a trip to Disneyland. If you can’t see this love, then keep listening to the gospel. That is, according to the plan of God, Jesus died for sinners like us. This is a wonderful and deep love. If it doesn’t sound wonderful, then perhaps you have forgotten that you are a sinner. Jesus, after all, didn’t die for good people who needed a spiritual boost; He died to bring alienated and condemned enemies into His family.
You have to start by thinking—not automatic thinking, but purposeful thinking. Your thinking must be guided by Scripture. Difficult work? Yes. Any mental effort is going to be work. Immediate changes? Probably not ones that are obvious to you. But you must do it. Your current thinking bends toward hopelessness and despair. You have to be willing to put up a fight.
If you are reluctant to work at it, then you must question whether you really want to change. It may sound odd, but many people don’t. The work involved doesn’t seem worth it, they hate what they will have to face if they are no longer depressed, or they are loyal to their own style of life, preferring instead that the world around them change.
If that is not enough, you will have to go back to listening. Ask someone to tell you who God is. When your mind is in a fog it is hard to remind yourself, so ask someone else. Ask someone to tell you that the creator God lives, and that He sent Jesus to die for the sins of people like us, who ignored and were enemies of God. Ask the person to persuade you that God is good. Ask the person to keep talking until it sounds like good news and you believe it.
Think about it. If you weren’t depressed, you would be in awe of what God has done. You would simply bow down, and, like so many others who have understood the love and the presence of God, say, “I am not worthy, but I am grateful.” Don’t give up listening to these truths. They will change you. Don’t give up.
While you try to listen, hearing about Christ and your purpose for living, the next place to practice thinking is to ask, “What are my feelings saying?” Your feelings tell you something about yourself.
This is the way it is with all emotions: fear, anger, anticipation, dread, and so on. They are usually provoked by some circumstance in our lives, but they are your responses to and your interpretations of that event. In other words, they reveal you. For example, if you get an unexpected bill, it can provoke financial concerns. But if you obsess and are chronically fearful about your financial future, that fear reveals where you have put your trust: you have put it in yourself rather than your God. Your emotions reveal you.
Moses said this very thing to the Hebrews when they were wandering in the desert. He taught that the difficulties of life in the desert tested the people
Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
). When the people were discontent and even angry, they were saying more about themselves than they were about the desert.
When the people were discontent and even angry, they were saying more about themselves than they were about the desert.
The same is true for depression: depression says something about your heart. The question is, what does it say? This is where you have to think. Consider some of these possibilities. Which ones put words on your feelings of despondency?
“I lost something.” Depression often feels empty, like you lost something or somebody. It could be a job, health, youth, money, or a person. You feel like a loved one has died. But depression is more than bereavement. It is bereavement run amok. Most likely, the thing lost was like a god to you. It was where you placed your hope and trust. •
where you placed your hope and trust. • “I need something.” Is depression saying that you need love, significance, respect, or some other psychological desire? We all enjoy these things when we have them, but sometimes they become more important than they should be. Can you notice what happens when your desires become the most important thing? Your desires transform into needs. You feel like you must have them in order to live. This is lust, and lust always wants more. It is never satisfied. It always feels empty. • “I AM ANGRY.” You have probably heard that depression can be saying, “I am angry.” Usually, we are angry because we didn’t get what we wanted from someone else or God Himself. This doesn’t mean that you think murderous thoughts about others and shake your fist at God, although you might. Look for quieter expressions of anger, such as complaining, grumbling, lack of forgiveness, or self-pity. If you don’t see them, look again. They will be there. • “I must avoid something.” Consider what would be disagreeable about no longer being depressed. Would you have to face something that you want to avoid, such as a person, financial difficulties, or responsibilities that carry the possibility of failure? The mental fog and physical fatigue of depression help you avoid thinking about a particularly troubling event or person. • “Woe is me.”Seasoned helpers of depressed people are quick to point out that depression speaks the language of self-pity. “If no one else is going to feel sorry for me, I will feel sorry for myself.” This can be deadly. It means that you live like a victim rather
“I need something.” Is depression saying that you need love, significance, respect, or some other psychological desire? We all enjoy these things when we have them, but sometimes they become more important than they should be. Can you notice what happens when your desires become the most important thing? Your desires transform into needs. You feel like you must have them in order to live. This is lust, and lust always wants more. It is never satisfied. It always feels empty.
“I AM ANGRY.” You have probably heard that depression can be saying, “I am angry.” Usually, we are angry because we didn’t get what we wanted from someone else or God Himself. This doesn’t mean that you think murderous thoughts about others and shake your fist at God, although you might. Look for quieter expressions of anger, such as complaining, grumbling, lack of forgiveness, or self-pity. If you don’t see them, look again. They will be there.
“I must avoid something.” Consider what would be disagreeable about no longer being depressed. Would you have to face something that you want to avoid, such as a person, financial difficulties, or responsibilities that carry the possibility of failure? The mental fog and physical fatigue of depression help you avoid thinking about a particularly troubling event or person.
“Woe is me.”Seasoned helpers of depressed people are quick to point out that depression speaks the language of self-pity. “If no one else is going to feel sorry for me, I will feel sorry for myself.” This can be deadly. It means that you live like a victim rather than one who has been shown infinite grace and mercy. •
“I have no hope.” If this sounds familiar, then you have to ask another question: “Hope for what?” Hope that you get rid of depression? Maybe you are hoping for too little.
Romans 5:2–5 ESV
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
) This passage of Scripture is difficult to understand, but one thing is clear. The Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter, had deep pain and suffering in his life, but, somehow, that did not weigh him down. Your job is to figure out his secret, which Paul is eager to reveal. Here is a hint. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (). Paul kept his eyes on Jesus. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, the road is endless. We know we will not have the stamina for it. But when we see that Jesus—the Knower of hearts—has traveled this road before us, then we can be confident that the Sprit is with us and will give us strength to walk in humble faith and obedience. And it hasn’t been Jesus alone who walked the path of hope, anticipating the glories that were right around the bend, just barely out of sight. As indicates, the path is well worn and populated by saints past and present. Although depressed people feel absolutely alone, they are part of a huge heaven-bound procession. • “I know that my Redeemer is with me, and I will humbly wait for his deliverance.” When faith is tested, as it is during depression, sometimes what is revealed is a heart that trusts in the Lord. You have decided that you will follow God, not because He makes you feel good, but because He is Lord of all, the loving Shepherd, the eternal Father. There is no one else to follow. Of course, you don’t understand what is happening to you now, but you know that He is your God who is with you, and that is enough.
This passage of Scripture is difficult to understand, but one thing is clear. The Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter, had deep pain and suffering in his life, but, somehow, that did not weigh him down. Your job is to figure out his secret, which Paul is eager to reveal.
Here is a hint.
Hebrews 12:3 ESV
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Paul kept his eyes on Jesus. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, the road is endless. We know we will not have the stamina for it. But when we see that Jesus—the Knower of hearts—has traveled this road before us, then we can be confident that the Sprit is with us and will give us strength to walk in humble faith and obedience.
Paul kept his eyes on Jesus. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, the road is endless. We know we will not have the stamina for it. But when we see that Jesus—the Knower of hearts—has traveled this road before us, then we can be confident that the Sprit is with us and will give us strength to walk in humble faith and obedience. And it hasn’t been Jesus alone who walked the path of hope, anticipating the glories that were right around the bend, just barely out of sight. As indicates, the path is well worn and populated by saints past and present. Although depressed people feel absolutely alone, they are part of a huge heaven-bound procession. • “I know that my Redeemer is with me, and I will humbly wait for his deliverance.” When faith is tested, as it is during depression, sometimes what is revealed is a heart that trusts in the Lord. You have decided that you will follow God, not because He makes you feel good, but because He is Lord of all, the loving Shepherd, the eternal Father. There is no one else to follow. Of course, you don’t understand what is happening to you now, but you know that He is your God who is with you, and that is enough.
And it hasn’t been Jesus alone who walked the path of hope, anticipating the glories that were right around the bend, just barely out of sight. As indicates, the path is well worn and populated by saints past and present. Although depressed people feel absolutely alone, they are part of a huge heaven-bound procession.
“I know that my Redeemer is with me, and I will humbly wait for his deliverance.” When faith is tested, as it is during depression, sometimes what is revealed is a heart that trusts in the Lord. You have decided that you will follow God, not because He makes you feel good, but because He is Lord of all, the loving Shepherd, the eternal Father. There is no one else to follow. Of course, you don’t understand what is happening to you now, but you know that He is your God who is with you, and that is enough.
What does your depression say? This is just a short list of some of the more common utterances of the heart. There are many more. If you can’t make out the meaning of your depression, there is still plenty to do. Hearing the gospel of Christ, knowing your purpose, and acting on that purpose are enough work in themselves. But keep asking yourself what your depression is saying.
and acting on that purpose are enough work in themselves. But keep asking yourself what your depression is saying.
As you think about the meaning of your feelings, you will notice that, rather than leading you to more and more despair, the path leads you to the triune God. More specifically, it will lead you to the question, Will you live for God or will you live for yourself and the things you worship? Sometimes it takes awhile to get to this most critical of questions, but it is always there. Usually, all you have to do is ask yourself the “why” questions of a three-year-old.
“I can’t go on.” “Why?”
things you worship? Sometimes it takes awhile to get to this most critical of questions, but it is always there. Usually, all you have to do is ask yourself the “why” questions of a three-year-old. “I can’t go on.” “Why?” “Because I am so tired and I can’t take the pain any more.” “Why?” “Because I feel like I am alone.” “Why?” “Because…I don’t believe that God is with me.” “Why?” “Because…I don’t trust him. I trust in my interpretation that comes from my feelings.” “Why” questions should lead you to God. You will get tired of the questions by the time you get to the second one, but keep them coming. At the end of your questions say to Him, “Jesus is my Lord, I confess my unbelief, and I trust You.” Trust, confession of sin, and following Christ in obedience—sound familiar? These are the staples of the spiritual life. When you get under the surface, these are the things that are important for everyone. You will find that they work. If these seem superficial, then you are numb to the secrets of the universe and you need to go back to listening. Don’t trust what your emotions are saying on this one. These may be simple, but they are not simplistic. They are the foundations for life itself. They are the primary ways we respond to God.
“Because I am so tired and I can’t take the pain any more.”
“Why?” “Because I feel like I am alone.”
“Why?” “Because…I don’t believe that God is with me.”
“Why?” “Because…I don’t trust him. I trust in my interpretation that comes from my feelings.”
“Why” questions should lead you to God. You will get tired of the questions by the time you get to the second one, but keep them coming. At the end of your questions say to Him, “Jesus is my Lord, I confess my unbelief, and I trust You.”
Trust, confession of sin, and following Christ in obedience—sound familiar? These are the staples of the spiritual life. When you get under the surface, these are the things that are important for everyone. You will find that they work.
If these seem superficial, then you are numb to the secrets of the universe and you need to go back to listening. Don’t trust what your emotions are saying on this one. These may be simple, but they are not simplistic. They are the foundations for life itself. They are the primary ways we respond to God.
The following list includes a number of applications of Scripture. The basic idea is that faith is expressed in action.
1. Take one biblical story, read it every day, and write down 25 applications of it (or 5, 10, or 50 applications). This may sound impossible, but once you get past the first ten it will get easier. Don’t forget, your mind drifts. It is fatigued. It will be hard to focus on one thing, but it will help.
2. Write five ways you have been blessed by a friend. Mail them.
3. Write your purpose for living. Allow it to be revised by others. Then memorize it and live it.
4. Become an expert in what God says to those who suffer. Consider starting with . calls you to faith and hope, then it points you to Jesus. Yet it doesn’t stop there. Scripture always points us toward other people as well: faith in God and love toward other people. In this case, it says, “make every effort to live in peace with all men” (). How can you be a peacemaker? Who do you need to forgive? Of whom do you need to ask forgiveness?
5. Take notes on the Sunday sermon. Act on them.
6. Each day, speak or write something that can be an encouragement to others. You have a calling. There are people to love, to care for, to help.
7. Each day, listen to God’s Word, music that points you to Christ, or another person who has spiritual wisdom. Be able to summarize what you heard and tell someone about it.
8. Keep a sharp eye out for grumbling and complaining. Like gossip, these are sins that are acceptable in our culture so we don’t see their ugly roots. What are grumbling or complaining really saying? Do you see how they are against God?
our culture so we don’t see their ugly roots. What are grumbling or complaining really saying? Do you see how they are against God? 9. Consider these questions. In this culture, have we forgotten the benefits of hardship? What are possible benefits to suffering? (, ; ; ; ) 10.Ask a few people to pray for you and invite them to speak the truth to you. When you ask for prayer, ask for more than just the alleviation of depression. Use this as an opportunity to pray big prayers. Find prayers in Scripture and pray them. For example, pray that you would know the love of Christ (), that you would look more like Jesus (), that you would love others, and that you would discern what it means to bring glory to God. 11.When in doubt, creatively show love to other people.
9. Consider these questions. In this culture, have we forgotten the benefits of hardship? What are possible benefits to suffering? (, ; ; ; )
10.Ask a few people to pray for you and invite them to speak the truth to you. When you ask for prayer, ask for more than just the alleviation of depression. Use this as an opportunity to pray big prayers. Find prayers in Scripture and pray them. For example, pray that you would know the love of Christ (), that you would look more like Jesus (), that you would love others, and that you would discern what it means to bring glory to God.
11.When in doubt, creatively show love to other people.
Depression is hard. It doesn’t leave without a fight. But there are good reasons to enter into the fight. Changes are guaranteed (). You are in the presence of “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (, ). Do you believe that? Think about it. When you consider that the Father sent His Son—His beloved, only son—to die for us when we were still His enemies, there is no reason to think that He will be stingy with His love and compassion now that we know Him as Father.
Sometimes, however, we have our own definition of compassion. Compassion might mean “to take away misery, quickly.” Instead, you have to believe that God’s love and compassion exceed even our imagination, let alone our understanding. He is up to something good. He wants to shower you with grace and make you look more and more like Jesus.
So don’t give up. You have a purpose. God is on the move. You are a servant of the King, a child who represents the Father, and you will soon have the privilege of comforting “those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (). The body of Christ needs you.
Confessing sin does not jeopardize our relationship with God. It only enhances it.
tion, let alone our understanding. He is up to something good. He wants to shower you with grace and make you look more and more like Jesus. So don’t give up. You have a purpose. God is on the move. You are a servant of the King, a child who repre
So don’t give up. You have a purpose. God is on the move. You are a servant of the King, a child who represents the Father, and you will soon have the privilege of comforting “those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (). The body of Christ needs you.
sents the Father, and you will soon have the privilege of comforting “those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (). The body of Christ needs you.
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