Before my eyes were even open, the weight settled on my shoulders like a backpack far too heavy for my petite frame. It terrified me. It made me want to give up before I even started. Before my eyes were even open, the weight settled on my shoulders like a backpack far too heavy for my petite frame. It terrified me. It made me want to give up before I even started.
My stomach ached, and my eyes burned from the tears the seared them before leaking down my cheeks as the dread of the day overwhelmed me. Every morning was the same. I cried the entire drive to work unsure that I could handle what lay before me until I became so ill I could do no more.
Depression was wreaking havoc in my life and in my mind. I felt worthless and useless. Depression makes us focus on feelings rather than on truth.
But feelings are capricious and can’t be trusted. Our feelings are the outward manifestation of the thoughts we believe. They are strong and compelling and the enemy uses our feelings against us.
While I’m not suggesting that we completely deny our feelings, I am proposing that we choose to believe the truth of God’s word over our feelings.
The enemy’s key motivation in the life of a Christian is to decrease our effectiveness in glorifying God and thwart our ability to share the good news with others who would trust in God.
John 10:10 says that “the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy…” and in the case of depression, as we discussed in my earlier blog post, 3 Things Depression Does To Us Spiritually, the enemy seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity to keep us bound in the chains of depression.
I’m grateful for the Biblical greats—they encourage my heart when I go through the storms of life. When I journeyed through the dark days and nights of depression’s valley, I was grateful for Job’s example. The enemy attacked Job mercilessly, yet God put limits on just how far He would let the enemy go. He does this for us too, especially when it comes to the extent of depression’s impact.
The second half of John 10:10 gives the rest of the story: “but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s still His promise to us today.
While the enemy attempts to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity, God will not allow him, or depression, to define our worth, determine our destiny, or separate us from the love of God. That’s reason to be hopeful!
1) Depression doesn’t define our worth—God does!
If we agree that the price paid for an object determines its value, then you must agree that you have infinite worth because Christ paid the ultimate price of his life when he died on the cross to save you.
John 3:16 contains the crucial nugget of truth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If you were the only one alive, Christ would have died to save you. God deemed you worthy.
Christ exchanged our sin and shame for his perfection, our death for his life, and our bondage for his freedom. “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36 NLT).
2) Depression doesn’t determine our destiny
The enemy tempts us to believe that we have to earn our salvation through good works, and then reminds us that we will never be good enough to meet God’s standard of perfection.
It’s true that God requires perfection, but the enemy wants us to stop there. Only one person has met God’s standard of perfection: his only Son, Jesus.
In his mercy and his grace, God created a way for all of us imperfect people to meet his criteria. He allowed Jesus to die and take all of our imperfection on himself. “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Rom. 5:6 NLT). By putting our sin on Jesus, God justified the ungodly so that we could be considered righteous in Him.
When God looks at us, he sees the perfection and righteousness of Jesus. “But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners” (Romans 4:5 NLT).
If we have accepted Christ as our Savior, nothing and no one can alter our destiny. God won’t allow our depression, our resulting frustration and despair, or even our misguided anger to change the security of our destiny as long as we are Christ followers.
3) Nothing, not the enemy nor depression, separates us from God’s love
The enemy thrives off convincing us that God forgets or abandons us during those times when we feel alone. But God’s Word assures us he won’t leave us or stop loving us.
When times get hard, answers aren’t forthcoming or the tides don’t turn fast enough, the enemy lies and whispers seeds of doubt:
- “If God really loved you, you wouldn’t still be hurting.”
- “Do you think God can love someone as messed up as you?”
- “The Bible says that ‘God so loves the world,’ but surely that means the world in general, because if he really loved you, he would have answered your prayers/healed you by now.”
The truth is that God’s Word repeatedly says that nothing, not even depression, can separate us from God’s love.
Lamentations 3:22–23 promises, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning” (NLT).
In Jeremiah 31:3, God proclaims “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Everlasting means from the beginning of time through eternity. There is no end to his love for me—or for you.
So while the enemy of our soul seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity through the valley of depression, we have a God who loves us so much, that He puts limits on the degree to which the enemy and depression can interfere with our lives. Neither the enemy of our soul, nor depression can determine our worth, dictate our destiny, or separate us from the love of God! That is good news and gives us something to cling to while we journey through depression to the other side.
To the other side? Is that possible? Yes! How do I know? Because I’ve been there, and He brought me through. And God doesn’t play favorites. What He did for me, He wants to do for you.
If you’d like to read more about my journey through depression, or what I learned about the spiritual component of depression, and our hope for healing, consider reading my book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression”. And exciting news for all my readers who have asked for it: the companion Hope Prevails Bible study is releasing October 25, 2017!
May I pray for you?
My heart is heavy for the one reading these words today. I remember well the pain of the darkness of depression, and the doubts and fears that tagged along like ugly step-siblings. Father, we know that feelings lie, yet they seem so real. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, I ask you to remind this precious child right now of your truth. That you would help shed light in any area of darkness. That you would bend your ear and listen to their cries, and that you would be near to the broken hearted and close to the crushed in spirit as you promise in your word. But more than that, Father, I ask that you will bring a return of joy, peace, and a true appreciation of their identity as a Child of God, an heir to the throne. Would you silence the mouth of the lying enemy and let only your truth be heard. Bring help, hope, and healing now, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
By 2020, depression is going to be the greatest epidemic worldwide. Every year one in ten adults is diagnosed, and at some point in their lifetime, one in four people will be diagnosed with this dark condition. If you found this post encouraging or educating, would you please be an Ambassador of Hope and consider sharing it so that others would find help and hope as well?
The Hope Prevails Bible Study, now available!
In this Bible study companion to Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression, Dr. Bengtson, a neuropsychologist with over 25 years of experience, shares both her clinical expertise and her own personal journey through depression.
Dr. Bengtson’s personal experience is interwoven with questions for reflection, key thoughts, music playlist suggestions, resources, plus a leader’s guide.
This Bible study can be used as a companion to Hope Prevails or independent study by an individual or is perfect in a small or larger group study. Useful for churches and counseling practices.
“Authentic connections, raw insights, and powerful truths. A great resource for individuals that would be highly beneficial to both church and counseling groups.” ~ Pastor Debbie Kitterman, Founder, Dare 2 Hear Ministry