Dear Dr. B,
I’m a man in my 60’s. Depression has been my Goliath as long as I can remember. I am a believer that has a fairly good grasp on Gods word. Yet I can’t muster the joy and happiness that the Word says is mine. I’m reading your book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and have the companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” At times, I’m out of hope. A saying I learned as a professional airline pilot describing a crash site was, “The place where the pilots ran out of altitude, airspeed, and ideas all at the same time.” I’ve been close to that place more times than I can count. Can I realistically shed this Goliath in my life?
Ready for Joy
Dear Ready for Joy,
Thank you for writing. I’m so glad you reached out.
Can you shed the Goliath? Yes, but not without God’s help and most likely, not without doing the hard work. Is it hard? YES! But it’s NOT impossible and it IS worth it!
Even having been a Christian for almost four decades when my worst depression hit, I knew much of the Word but honestly, I wasn’t applying it. You see, knowledge is helpful but applying knowledge is where our power comes from.
Let me encourage you to ask God what lies you’ve believed and/or accepted about yourself. Then, ask Him which of His truths counter the lies. Next, speak those truths out loud over yourself repeatedly. The enemy won’t be convinced until you are. Also, our thoughts affect our chemistry. Speaking God’s truth out loud repeatedly will positively affect your thoughts, which will then positively impact your brain chemistry.
Examples of lies that others with depression have realized they believed include things like:
- “I’m a wimp or I wouldn’t be depressed.” Counter this with Scripture that says, “But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57) and “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
- “I’ll never be healed” countered with “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
- “God’s just angry with me” countered with “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
- “I can’t fight this battle any longer” countered with “But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isaiah 54:17).
- “I’m ashamed to admit I suffer from depression” countered with “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
For me, and it sounds like for you too, I believed God could heal me of my depression, but I still had to ask God to help my unbelief. That may help you as well. In asking me if you can realistically shed the Goliath of depression, it suggests that while you believe in God, you may struggle to believe He can or will heal you. It’s okay—God can handle it. Tell Him what you’re struggling with and ask Him to help. It’s Biblical. “The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
If you haven’t had a good general medical physical, I’d recommend that too because some medical conditions can contribute to some depression symptoms.
I DO believe you can be healed from depression. It is not God’s desire for any of us to be ill. “Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit” (3 John 1:2).
I also believe God cannot be fit within a box. God’s ways and timing for healing may be different for everyone seeking His healing. Regardless, He will use our pain for good in the process. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
Remember, healing is not usually a one and done event, but more often a process akin to peeling an onion, and that God is not finished with you yet. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).
I look forward to hearing from you after you make it through the book and Bible study! (Oh, and if you need to go through it more than once or revisit it in the future, you’re not alone. Many readers have shared that, and even I go back and reread it occasionally).
May I pray for you?
I pray for the one reading this who is ready for joy. Depression is not from you, but instead from our enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. You came to give us joy to the full. I ask you to return to them your joy and abundant life. Bend down your ear to listen to their cries, and catch every tear that falls. Father, through the power of your Holy Spirit, I ask you to reveal the lies that have been believed and your truths that heal. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
If you are on social media, particularly Facebook, you may want to join the #HopePrevails Community where we offer ongoing support.
October is Depression Awareness Month. Please consider sharing this post with your friends. You never know who might be struggling and in need of encouragement.
In need of more encouragement for you or someone you love who is struggling with depression? Be sure to check out some of my other popular posts about depression.
15 Top Blog Posts on Depression
- 10 Verses of Hope for When You Are Down or Depressed
- Depression Feels Like a Broken Heart
- What Not to Say When a Loved One is Depressed
- What to Say When a Loved One is Depressed
- Combat Depression with Truth
- Ask Dr. B: When a Spouse Is Depressed
- Don’t Treat Depression with a Band-Aid
- 10 Scriptures for Mothers Suffering from Depression
- 3 Things Depression Does To Us Spiritually
- 3 Hope-Filled Ways God Limits the Impact of Depression in our Lives
- There is No Shame in Depression
- How to Help a Depressed Loved One
- Is It Exhaustion Or Depression?
- Thankful for Depression
- How to Share About Your Depression With Your Loved Ones
Resources on Depression: Recommended reading on depression
Want even more help for battling depression? Here’s what others have said about “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the new companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study”.
Testimonials for “Hope Prevails” and the “Hope Prevails Bible Study.”
“Your books and web resources are a God Send and helping me tremendously! I don’t have the words to express my gratitude. After a life of depression, hope is on the horizons…” ~ L.E.
“As a psychologist, I often purchase and study books written by authors who I respect. I am then able to share those books with specific individuals who I feel might benefit. “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression,” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson is one of those books. If you are struggling or have struggled with depression, this is a special book that I highly recommend. You’ll not find a better faith-based, practical, real and from-the-heart approach for tackling depression head-on than that shared by Michelle. Always remember that ‘hope prevails.’” ~ H.A.
“I have to tell you that your book, Hope Prevails is my all time favorite non-fiction Christian book EVER. When the Lord led me to buy it, I had no idea how absolutely perfect it would be for me. Just what the Doctor ordered. At first, I read through the whole book, all the time exclaiming “She gets it! She really gets it!” Then, I began going through the book as my morning devotional, page by page, making copious notes and writing out the Scriptures that affected me the most…
Thank you so much and may God bless you abundantly.” ~ PD
These are great truths. This was one of my greatest struggles with anxiety/depression- struggling with the beleif that I COULD be healed. God is bigger than any struggle we face but we have to believe that first. Although, I believe it’s so important that people understand that even in being “cured,” once you struggle with something it could be something that you struggle with in some form for most of your life. That doesn’t mean we should lose hope because we see those all tendencies pop up now and again—there’s a differnece between strtuggling and being held captive to it. Thank you for another great post!
So glad you enjoyed this post, Susan. Oh how the enemy works, to try to get us to believe we can’t be healed. You’re absolutely right: “God is bigger than any struggle we face but we have to believe the first.” That’s what He desires of us most, that we believe. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
What a truth speaking post! Thank you for sharing Ready for Joy and thank your for your insightful answer Dr. B! Speaking truth ALOUD. What a powerful thing for anyone to do!
I’m so grateful when people are willing to ask the hard questions like Ready for Joy did, and even more grateful that God has given us the answers we need. I found speaking truth aloud to be so powerful, I had to share it. It was a life changer for me.
Thank you for this beautiful prayers, and these verses to remind me of who God is and what He can do. Every once in a while, I just begin to feel hopeless. It usually passes, and I am able to bounce back and move past it, but I can definitely use these methods to help pull me out when I am feeling extra low. #MomentsofHopeLinkup
I think we all go through spells like that when we aren’t at the top of our game and just need a little help pulling out of it. Glad this post resonated with you. I think so many suffer and feel hopeless. Because I’ve been through it, I know from experience that even when we feel hopeless, with God, #HopePrevails. Feel free to share if you think others would be encouraged by this.
What an incredible resource you’ve compiled here! I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. I couldn’t agree more about speaking scripture out loud. That was truly life changing for me. Thank you for all of your words of wisdom. This will serve many.
First let me say how sorry I am that you’ve walked this valley too. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I know the pain and it’s horrible. I’m glad to hear, however, that you know the importance of speaking scriptures out loud. That literally changed my life. Feel free to share this post if you think it would encourage others.