Depression is a malady affecting millions of Americans each year. It has no respect of gender or age, although it is increasingly evident in women as they experience hormonal changes, and in teens experiencing emotional development. Defined as sadness, gloom, or hopelessness—prior generations referred to it as melancholy. But there are also physical manifestations of depression, which can include fatigue, an inability to sleep or excessive sleeping (reference “depression” at www.Healthline.com). And lately, this topic is a very common interruption to your favorite TV show, with commercials featuring several prescriptions to treat it. A visit to your health professional may also leave you with advice to battle it with diet, vitamins, and exercise.
Living in Michigan, the topic of depression arises even among Christians facing job loss, foreclosure, sickness, and other spiritual fights. But there’s good news; our Lord and Savior hears our prayers. And He has sent a word of hope. Before popping a pill or adopting a new routine as a cure for mental or emotional oppression, try using one of the following spiritual weapons to wage war against depression:
David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel penned many prayers to God, including Psalm 142, where he proclaimed, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice…I poured out my complaint before Him” (Psalm 142:1-2). When you’re sinking in feelings of desperation, cry out to God. He hears every Word and will answer in time. The Lord is a constant friend who promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He will not judge or gossip about your situation. Right where you are—pray! (Additional Psalms of encouragement: Psalms 40; 42; 46; 143)
#2 Daily Devotions
Psalm 119:11 reveals that the Psalmist exercised a practice of hiding the Word in his heart. God’s Word contains endless revelation about who He is, who we are, and how we are to live a victorious life. Start reading the Word every day. Meditate on it. Develop a habit of fellowship with God. You will find words of encouragement, affirmation, and wisdom penned by writers who trekked similar roads you face in your daily walk.
Keeping a journal is very therapeutic. Visit www.appleseeds.org to read “100 Benefits of Journaling.” Among the benefits cited—healing, stress reduction, personal growth, and even better, problem solving. It’s a sure way to release what’s bottled up inside. So pick up a pen!
Over the ages, many have quoted the saying, “confession is good for the soul.” Close to the truth, the Bible verse is actually found in 1 John 1:9, which states: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Purging the soul of wrongdoing is a sure way to lighten the load of burdens that can cause guilt, shame, and ultimately depression. Be courageous. Examine yourself. Take your faults and sins to God and trust Him to forgive you as He promised.
#5 Praise & Worship
It’s a well-known fact that music is a powerful force that influences the mood and atmosphere. In 1 Samuel 16:23, David played his harp for King Saul, which caused the evil spirit to depart from him. Worship music invokes the presence of God. And with His presence comes the very essence of His spirit—love, joy, peace, grace, and truth. Turn on the power of musical inspiration and be refreshed to the very core of your soul!
Psalms 136 is a powerful song of thanksgiving. In just 26 verses the writer extols, “O give thanks,” for God’s mercy, His creation, His defense, and provision of “food to all flesh.” We owe God thanks for so many things—shelter, sustenance, our very lives. But we also owe thanks to one another. In her book, Thank You Power, Deborah Norville chronicles countless instances where people learned the importance of bestowing gratitude on friends, relatives, and even strangers. It is a powerful work that contrasts the uselessness of complaining and the benefits of being grateful. Instead of dwelling on the negative circumstances and people in your life, try shifting your focus to something or someone you are thankful for. Make a list of people you need to say, “Thank you” to, and the reasons why—then do it!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 highlights the benefits of friendship; a friend can lift you up when you fall. Experiencing failure, setbacks, and sin can be mighty blows to Christians. What can set in is condemnation, which can ultimately lead to depression. Having a friend to give a word of encouragement can be like finding an oasis in a dessert storm. When you’re feeling down, avoid isolation. Call a friend.
Another great weapon that can produce results is being busy. When you find yourself dwelling on depressing thoughts, put your hands to a project you haven’t finished. Endeavor to complete it within an escalated timeframe. It will shift your focus from failure to productivity, lift your spirits, and produce an added sense of accomplishment.
Do something for somebody else! Support a charitable cause. Donate time at your local soup kitchen. Volunteer at a community recreation center or hospital. Get connected with children’s ministry at your local church. Give of yourself, your time, and your talents! Focus on the needs of others and something wonderful will happen; you will forget about your problems.
One of the greatest weapons against depression is your testimony of past victories. It’s remembering how sick you were—and how healthy you became. It’s telling the story of how you got out of tight situations, or how you reconciled with an estranged relative. Whatever your plight—once you overcame a situation it became your personal testimony; your “if—then” story. Think back over the times in your life when you overcame overwhelming circumstances and say to yourself, “if I got through that—I can get through this!”
Not everyone has the benefit of living in the sunshine state. But even in places like Michigan, there are places where the clouds dissipate and the warm sunrays illuminate even the threats of overcast skies. Get out of the house. Take a walk in the park. Sit by the pond and feed the ducks. Ride a bike. Allow the beauty of nature, gentle breezes, and the fresh aroma of the great outdoors to rejuvenate you.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Laughter is one of the most potent weapons to employ in the fight against depression. It is the antithesis of sadness. It is an indication of humor, enjoyment, and merriment in the very heart of man. Not only does it permeate your being with joy, but it also transforms the atmosphere to a point that it can affect others—becoming contagious! Find that special something or someone who makes you laugh, and take a hearty dose of it everyday!
Copyright August 19, 2010 Portia Hewitt (PortiaLHewitt@gmail.com)