“I don’t understand where this came from, but I’m tired of it and I want it to end,” she cried. “I feel like it’s killing me from the inside out. I don’t even recognize myself anymore.”
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard similar statements, I could fund a mighty fine vacation!
I remember making similar sentiments when I travelled along my own valley of depression. It’s a journey I don’t recommend to anyone, and yet, now, I’m so appreciative of because it gives me greater compassion for the one in four adults who will struggle at some point in their lifetime.
What I know now that I didn’t know before having walked the journey myself, is that if we don’t acknowledge and address the spiritual components of depression, it’s akin to applying a band aid to an infection and hoping healing takes place.
Scripture says “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood armies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12 NLT).
It also says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
In the case of depression, the enemy comes to:
- steal our joy
- kill our peace
- destroy our identity
But don’t despair. Scripture says “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We just have to be aware of the enemy’s tactics so we can fight them head on.
1. The enemy’s key goal is to dampen that which makes us attractive to others, and that which might attract them to God. So the first thing he tries to do to get us depressed and keep us depressed is to steal our joy.
Joyful people are attractive. They are fun to be around. But someone who has lost their joy has lost that attractive spark.
Despite the enemy’s attempt to steal our joy, we can stand on God’s promises to make our joy full: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
And in those dark days and nights, hold on to God’s promise which says, “Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).
2. The second thing the enemy does to us with respect to depression is kill our peace.
How you ask? By invoking worry, fear, and anxiety.
If you think about it, an anxious mind is not at peace.
Fear and anxiety are a misappropriation of our attentional resources that robs us of peace.
And then of course is the issue of shame. As if anxiety isn’t enough, the enemy kills our peace by invoking shame. You know shame. Shame says you are a mistake, when the truth is you made a mistake. Shame is what leads to the stigma behind all mental health issues. Shame is what causes us to hide behind our brokenness.
The enemy wants us to hide behind anxiety and shame. But the truth of God’s word comfortingly reminds us that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
What we have to remember is that anxiety, shame, and a distortion of our view of ourselves are all tools utilized by the biggest liar to roam the earth. They are not from God. Nor are they consistent with God’s truth. And they steal our peace.
Jesus’s truth trumps the enemy’s lies, when He promised, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
3. Finally, the last thing the enemy does to get us depressed or to keep us depressed is to try to destroy our identity.
The enemy first tempts us then he taunts us with our failures. It all started in the Garden of Eden. The enemy tempted Eve to sin, then after she and Adam sinned, he taunted them with their imperfection by shaming them with their nakedness.
They had been naked all along, but they had never before associated that as being a bad thing, until the enemy taunted them with their failure. So often we are often unaware of our imperfections and flaws until the enemy uses others to bring them to our awareness.
Yet, what God wants us to remember is the truth about our identity, which does not change because of depression, and is that “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10 NLT).
Since the beginning of time, God has looked upon us as a masterpiece and declared us good. He is incapable of making anything other than good.
So the enemy of our soul seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity to make us depressed, but God says that greater is He who is in us than he (the enemy) who is in the world. Just as the enemy tempted Jesus and Jesus refuted him with the Word of God, we must do the same. It is our safeguard. It is our strong tower. It is the best prescription we can ever take!
Stay tuned next time for the limits God puts on the impact the enemy and depression can have on us (remember Job?).
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
For more on the spiritual roots of depression, and how to overcome this devastating condition, let me encourage you to pick up my book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the soon to be released (October 25, 2017) companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study”.
The Hope Prevails Bible study release date is October 25th!
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
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