It started as a little desire that rattled around in my heart like a wayward pinball. I shared with a friend, “I just want to help those who live too far away to come into my office. Depression doesn’t have to be a way of life.”
She affirmed what my heart already sensed, “All of your years of training, as well as your decades of experience and your love of writing, puts you in an excellent place to write a book, a resource for those in need.”
What she didn’t know was that the enemy of my soul had been working overtime to convince me to give up my dream of writing. Graduate school professors and their harsh comments and incessant red marks left me believing I would not, and should not, be a writer, despite the dream that God had placed in my heart as a young girl.
Ironically, my friend’s encouragement came while we attended a writer’s conference. It was miraculous enough that I even attended such a conference when I believed I would never be a writer. But during an exercise in the middle of a workshop, the facilitator instructed us to take 10 minutes of solitude and ask God what He wanted to speak to us during the conference.
I heard only two words in my heart, “Hope Prevails.”
“Awww, how sweet, Lord. You’re right, hope does prevail because of you!”
During that conference, I shared my idea of writing a resource for those struggling with depression, or for loved ones who cared about those who suffered. Every single person I shared with affirmed the need and encouraged me to continue.
Within the first week after returning home from the conference, I began work on the book proposal, only to become deathly ill and hospitalized within the second week. What followed was two surgeries, severe weight loss from 113 pounds to a skeletal 74, five months of medically ordered bed rest, and ironically, the worst depression I’d ever known.
Recognizing the depression for what it was, I took my own prescription…I did all the things I had recommended to my depressed patients for decades: I attended therapy, took medication, ate right, exercised, and made rest a priority. All those things helped. They did…BUT they were insufficient for eradicating the depression.
In my desperation I cried out to the Lord (desperation makes you willing!), “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.”
I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, but as clear as if you and I were having a conversation over coffee, I sensed God speaking to my heart, “Unless you are willing to address the spiritual roots of disease, it’s like putting a bandaid on an infection and hoping it gets well.”
Whoa! 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. Thus began “A Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and what became the subtitle of my book.
As I pursued God and His redemptive process through the season of depression that plagued me, God revealed that we have an enemy who seeks to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity. But God didn’t leave us there! He also revealed that He came so that we could have a full, abundant, and joy-filled life.
“The thief comes only to steal, and kills, and destroy; but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Many don’t like to think about the spiritual dark forces, or the enemy of our soul. Others tend to blame every hangnail or flat tire on the work of the enemy. Regardless, Scripture is clear about its presence and impact in our lives, “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” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT).
I began my pursuit to understand the enemy’s impact on our lives and how to fight back, not just for myself, but for my family’s future generations. Not only had I been afflicted, but my mother suffered, my aunt suffered, and my grandmother suffered through depression’s valley. I wanted this affliction to stop with my generation!
Even on the days when the work seemed too hard, I looked at my children and found strength knowing I was fighting for their well-being just as much as my own.
God not only revealed that I had to fight against the enemy of my soul to reclaim my peace, joy, and non-depressed identity, but that He lovingly put limits on the enemy’s (and depression’s) impact:
1) Neither the enemy, nor depression, determined my worth: Jesus did when He paid the price for me with His death on the cross.
2) Neither the enemy, nor depression, dictated my destiny: as a Christ-follower, my destiny was secure.
3) Neither the enemy, nor depression, could or would separate me from the love of God.
Even when the days were dark and long, I held onto these promises of God, and many more.
Slowly over time, the depression began to dissipate, and I realized that the words God had spoken to my heart at the writer’s conference were not just a sweet sentiment to buoy my spirits, but were a testament to the fact that as long as God is on His throne, #HopePrevails.
Whether we walk through the valley of depression, undergo treatment for a severe medical condition, scrape our way back from financial ruin, work to resolve relationship discord, or some other devastating trial, we can maintain our hope in Him and His promises.
Not so ironically, the day my book “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” released, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Some might consider that a coincidence. Others view that as a direct attack of the enemy trying to limit my message. I may never know for sure why they occurred simultaneously, but I can honestly tell you that God used it to cement my conviction that despite depression, cancer, job loss, or any of the other trials we endured that year, without a doubt, #HopePrevails!
This week we celebrate the anniversary of the birth date of “Hope Prevails” and I am delighted to tell you that in response to reader requests, I have also written and released the companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study” to take readers even deeper for greater help, hope, and healing.
In the intervening two years since the release of “Hope Prevails,” I have heard from many who benefited from the words God put on my heart to share as a resource for those who could not come into my office for help. The true help is God’s word, which is liberally referenced throughout the book and Bible study. Here are just a few testimonies others have shared with me about the impact of “Hope Prevails”:
What Readers have to Say About Hope Prevails
“I have suffered with depression my whole adult life (I’m 55 now) and this is the first book that I have read that helps with the spiritual part of depression. I just want to thank you for writing this book and I’m praising the Lord that He put it in my life.” Deborah
“Suddenly a young woman in our community turned to us and shared her struggle with suicidal depression. We read to her from your book and several of your prayers. She appreciated them so much that she came and asked if she could have the book.” Tim
“Your book has really made a difference in my life and I appreciate your willingness to write it and share from your own personal experience.” Kathy
“The first book saved my life as in I almost gave up. I read all the time and that book was the best book I HAVE EVER READ!!!” Mimi
“I found the actions suggested by Dr. Bengtson to be most helpful as I was buried in grief and depression after the sudden loss of my husband. As a layperson I had no idea that I was suffering from depression, in fact, I thought that a friend who suggested it to me was the crazy one. The book title Hope Prevails was what attracted me. I couldn’t put it down once I began reading. Over a year later I have read through the book twice and am in the middle of my third reading. On my second read through I chose to write out all the Scriptures she noted. The notebook of Scriptures has been a blessing to me many times as the loss of my life partner has left a huge hole in my life.” Oregon Girl
“So thankful to God that you wrote Hope Prevails. I just finished it and cannot express enough the healing I have felt. I am not 100% anxiety and depression free but I am now 100% sure of the amazing love God has for me.” Theresa
“My wife was able to purchase your book, and pass along some helpful thoughts to our daughter. She has also been able to refer your book to some of her patients who are going through similar issues…and I just wanted to express our GRATEFULNESS to you, for allowing our Father, to continue to use you as His representative, in helping people to see how He CAN work….and continue in His work, of restoration and healing and grace.” Michael
“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. (I have discovered if I write something down, I retain it better.) I’m now only on page 82, since the text and God’s words of truth compiled in this fashion are so rich that I want to devour every word. But I couldn’t wait any longer to contact you and tell you what a blessing you have been in my life. Thank you so much and may God bless you abundantly.” Pat
This week I marvel at the work God has done in allowing me to share not only my clinical expertise as a neuropsychologist, but also my personal testimony of God’s faithfulness bringing me out of depression’s pit. “Hope Prevails” is the kind of book I wish I’d had when I was in the middle of the valley.
Would you like to share in the “birthday celebration?” There is no greater gift appreciated more by authors than an honest review of their book on Amazon, Goodreads, or other book retailers. Such reviews help others find the best book for their situation from the thousands of books out there. If you have been touched by either “Hope Prevails” or the “Hope Prevails Bible Study,” would you consider leaving the gift of your review and/or sharing this post so others can find hope in their darkness? I’d be most appreciative.
Christmas is just around the corner. If you know someone who suffers from depression, maybe you’ll consider giving them the gift of HOPE. You just might save a life.
If you are one who is struggling now in the middle of depression’s valley, or love someone who is, you might also appreciate these other related posts:
For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: https://drmichellebengtson.com/how-to-help-a-depressed-loved-one-ebook/
For more helpful information about what you need to know when you have a depressed loved one, read here: https://drmichellebengtson.com/10-things-to-know-if-you-have-a-depressed-loved-one/
For more about what not to say to a depressed loved one, read here: https://drmichellebengtson.com/what-not-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/ while here are suggestions about supportive things you can say to a depressed loved one: https://drmichellebengtson.com/what-to-say-when-a-loved-one-is-depressed/
A prayer for those walking through Depression or Oppression
May I pray for you?
You know what this dear child of yours is facing. Whether it’s walking through the valley of depression, some other trial, or walking alongside someone else who is. In your word, you promise to be close to the brokenhearted; you promise to bend your ear and to listen to those who call on your name; you promise that although weeping may last for a night, your joy comes in the morning. I pray you will be true to your promises, as you always have. I pray you will be the lifter of their head. I ask you to help them break free from the chains the enemy has used to bind them in a spirit of depression or oppression. Help them to renew their minds with the truth and promises found in your word. Let them know that you are near, that you see them and care for them, and that you will never leave them or forsake them. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
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