In dealing with the spiritual root of depression and cooperating with God for complete healing, wholeness, and restoration, I journeyed from joy-immune to joy-full. The good news is that this transformation can be yours as well!
Joy-immune. That’s where I was. At least that’s what I believed.
As I looked around me, everyone else was so full of joy and yet I had none. In fact, depression was all I could see as the dark night of my soul enveloped me.
Why were they the lucky ones?
Was I not as deserving?
Was I not as worthy?
Was I not as special?
Was I not as important?
I wasn’t even sure I knew what joy was. To me, it was just a word in a Christmas carol.
A Doctor’s Struggle with Depression
I wasn’t even sure how I had fallen in this deep, dark well. I was the doctor—the neuropsychologist who treated patients with anxiety and depression for twenty years. Shouldn’t I have been able to prevent depression from enveloping me?
At least I knew how to treat it, right?
At least that’s what I thought.
And so I began the treatment strategies I had suggested to my patients for nearly two decades: therapy, medication, diet, exercise, rest. They all helped, but they were not enough to eradicate the depression that wreaked havoc in my soul.
I cried out to God , “Lord, if this is what my life is going to amount to, I’m not sure I want to continue living. I’ve done all I know to do. I either need you to take away this depression, or show me what’s missing. I will not go back to being the doctor unless I know what I share with people really works.”
And lastly, I begged Him to make my depression count for something…to use this pain for good…to bring me out better than I had gone in.
Addressing the Spiritual Roots of Disease
He very clearly spoke to my heart, not in an audible voice, but to my heart He clearly said, “If you do not deal with the spiritual root of disease, it’s like putting a band aid on an infection and hoping it will get well.”
I knew God was right. I had been addressing the physical, emotional, and mental components of depression, but I had done nothing to address the spiritual roots.
That began my journey into understanding the spiritual contributors of depression, and cooperating with God for complete healing, wholeness, and restoration.
God made me aware that we have a very real enemy. John 10:10 says that “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”
The Enemy’s Influence on Depression
3 things the enemy seeks to do spiritually:
1) steal our joy
2) kill our peace, and
3) destroy our identity.
But that’s the end of his influence.
The Limit on Depression’s Impact
We have a reason why we can maintain our hope as we walk out our healing. God put a limit on what the enemy and depression can do because neither the enemy nor depression:
1) determine our worth
2) dictate our destiny, or
3) separate us from the love of God!
While there are many contributors to depression, such as genetic contributors, and chemical contributors, and secondary and reactionary contributors, the enemy is the biggest contributor of all. He does so by interfering with our thought life and lying to us about who we are.
Using Scripture to Transform Your Mind
Scripture tells us that “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What that means is we have to pay attention to our thoughts. Do they agree with what God says? If they don’t, we have to reject them and replace them with God’s truth.
I started by writing one single scripture on a post-it note and placing it where I would see it every day. Every time I saw it, I recited it out loud because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Then I wrote down another scripture, and another scripture, and another. Before long, I had over 100 scriptures on post-it notes stuck all over my walls, mirrors and wherever else I would see them. I even had them on my car dashboard and light switches. Each time I saw them, they reminded me of the truth of what God says about me.
A Healing Encounter and Joy-Full Revelation
Later, I was speaking at an event and a woman came up to me and asked if she could pray for me. Never one to turn down prayer, I happily agreed. As she prepared to pray, she hesitated. I looked up to her with a question in my eyes. She explained, “I usually pray for people to receive His joy. But I’m not going to pray for that for you. You clearly are already filled with His joy! So I was just asking Him what He wanted me to pray for you…”
What a healing balm for my heart. My heart overflowed with gratitude and thankfulness to the Lord. I prayed prayers of gratitude as I left. I don’t think I will ever forget being so depressed that I was seduced by the enemy of my soul into believing the lie that I was “joy-immune.” And now, I am full of His joy!
The Promise of Joy in the Morning
Scripture says, “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The dark night of my soul lasted a very long time, but God was faithful to His promise and brought His joy in the morning!
Not only that, but I recognize many of the other lies the enemy had whispered to my heart, that I also believed…the lies that I was not as deserving, worthy, special, or as important as others who appeared to be joyful.
Yet, Christ died for one and all. That levels the playing field. I am as important and as worthy as anyone else, and THEY are as important and as worthy as I am, and so are YOU!
Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. Hold on to the Lord, and the hope He offers. He came so that YOUR joy may be full as well!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
“There are many fine, worthy, and insightful books written about depression, but in my view, Dr. Bengtson’s trumps them all. Our first step of making it to the other side of the valley of depression may well be falling into the competent and compassionately written words of this God-honoring book: ‘Hope Prevails.’” ~ from the foreword by MARILYN MEBERG, Women of Faith speaker and author of Constantly Craving