How do you cope when things in your life turn sideways, or make you feel tossed upside down?
I remember those days. They’ve left me feeling like I’d been battered against the ocean floor unable to catch my breath on several occasions.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2).
If I’m being honest, considering it pure joy when facing trials, has not often been my immediate response. I’ve been known to cry, complain, even get angry with God long before I’ve faced such trials with a joy-filled heart.
How do we reconcile God’s command to be joyful when we are combating the enemy’s lies and dealing with despair and doubt and self-pity?
Part of the solution is identifying the enemy’s lies. One of the lies I erroneously believed was that I was joy immune. I was not quick to recognize that I was even having that thought.
Scripture says that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. As the Holy Spirit brought truth to my mind, I then realized, “Oh my goodness, that is not consistent with what scripture says. Scripture says, I am victorious in Christ Jesus. Scripture says, I am more than an overcomer.”
As I started becoming aware of how my thoughts didn’t agree with Scripture, and I would verbalize God’s truth out loud, my spirit would lift just a little bit. And you know one of the things that I learned when I was so sick is that desperation makes us willing. It made me willing. Oh my goodness, it made me so willing.
What we have to be careful of is that we have to make sure that we’re willing for the right thing because desperation can lead us down the wrong path. Desperation can lead us to alcoholism. Desperation can lead us to drug abuse. Desperation can lead us to our fears.
Or, desperation can lead us into the hands of the Father who can bring us freedom from depression and anxiety and despair.
Fortunately for me, desperation led me to the Father.
Kay Warren, in her book about joy, says “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control over all the details of my life. The quiet confidence that ultimately everything’s going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” She describes joy as “a settled conviction about God. It’s the quiet confidence in God. And, joy is a determined choice to give my praise to God.”
When I first became ill, I was not filled with a lot of praise. In fact, I was a bit angry. Honestly, I was rather angry. I was quite angry because all of a sudden I couldn’t do what I thought I was supposed to do. I couldn’t be the person I thought I was supposed to be.
One Sunday morning, a friend sent me a text message. My family was at church and I was too ill to attend with them when she sent me a text message. I’ll never forget it: “I was in church today and they played this worship song. It was by Plumb. It was ‘I Need You Now.’ It made me think of you today.”
She sent me the link to the Youtube version and I listened. It just pierced my heart. I thought, “Yes, Lord, I need you now!” I played it and I played it and I played it, continuously. That was the origin for the playlist which is now in my book, “Hope Prevails.” I played that song and then, when you play a song on YouTube, it will bring up another song. And, I played that one. And, then I played the next song and then the next one.
I realized what a difference listening to praise and worship music made. I had a real hard time uttering praise right then but I could sing it. The enemy hates it. But, the Word says God inhabits the praises of His people. As I praised God in my attempts to sing along, it made a difference. But the enemy hates it. So, as I was singing, God inhabited the praises and He was in that room and He made me feel better. And, the enemy was fleeing.
So if we want joy in our lives, part of what we have to do is recognize the lies we’ve been listening to and combat them with truth, and secondly, be willing to praise. In times of depression or despair, praising is truly a sacrifice because it’s often the last thing we want to do. Yet it’s one of the first things He asks us to do.
I challenge you: when you are feeling down, discouraged, frustrated, or despairing, start praising God either in word or in song, and just see how much better you feel as a result!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
“I Need You Now” by Plumb
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A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.