If you were walking through a dark valley, would you want an arm or a finger? That is, an arm around your shoulder, or a judgmental finger in your face? The person that is struggling with depression, is in a very dark and lonely place. They feel hopeless. The feel anxious. They feel out of control. I want to premise this post, by saying, that I am no doctor. I do not claim to be one. BUT, I do know the Great Physician and He lives within me. He is mighty and powerful to save. His prescription comes without any disclaimers or negative side effects. His solution has a 100% guarantee stamped bold in red, by the Blood of the Lamb! I will say that I am not completely for or against medicine, in the treatment of depression. Sometimes it allows an individual to regain some clarity and focus, in order to hear and retain biblical counseling. It is best explained by Robert D. Smith, M.D. when he states:
I grew up in a household where I observed and was the recipient of verbal abuse. My brother, diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at a young age, was the culprit. My mother, Tami Lyn, wrote a book about raising a son with Bipolar disorder: Raising Stephen, One Day At A Time: A Parental View On Raising A Child With Bipolar Disorder .It caused me a lot of anxiety in my mind and heart, and it eventually caught up with my body as a young adult. I found myself experiencing the feeling of my throat closing up on me. I could not breathe. It was a very real and sobering feeling. I was given a prescription for an anxiety medication. I was immediately offended. I’m not anxious, I thought. I just can’t breathe! I broke down and took the medication, a month supply, and never re-filled it. It got me back to a place of clarity.
I also have a condition called Hypothyroidism. If my thyroid is off, it throws me into uncontrollable and very deep feelings of sadness and depression. When I feel like this I just can’t seem to shake it. I feel hopeless and alone. I lose control of my emotions. I may get really teary or really angry. I have learned to stay on top of getting my blood work checked, and have become my own advocate on that.
All this being said, to share with you (or your soon to be counselee) that I have walked in that dark place. That I fight against it every day. That I am not naive to the fact that it is a very real, very horrible, very lonely and hopeless place to be.
But, I know the one who is HOPE and freely gives it to all who will listen. Did God send His precious Son to give me eternal life alone? NO. He died that I may have abundant life NOW.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly!
Today. Here on earth! If that was the case, He would call us all home upon salvation. He wants us to have a joy-filled life. One with purpose. A life that can shine His glorious name, in the good, and in the bad! If His Word, is not strong enough to heal my deepest wounds, to fix any problem, to mend my broken heart, then what good is it? I will proclaim this truth until the day I die… IT IS STRONG ENOUGH!
It is like my daughter. The slightest boo boo she gets, on her 3 year old tiny finger, she is searching, pleading, striving to get what? A kiss and a band aide. We all desperately want to be loved unconditionally. We all have a deep need within us to be loved. So let the one who is LOVE, love you completely.
So, here is some information (only highlighted points) I received at a women’s biblical counseling seminar last year. If you want the complete notes, feel free to email me at curly2880(@)yahoo(dot)com.
A Depressed individual may be characterized by many or all of the following:
- having a diminished ability to think and concentrate.
- having extreme fatigue and a lack of energy.
- depression says “I must avoid this!
- there is mental fog. It helps the person to avoid thinking about what she does not want to think about.
- the physical fatigue keeps her from having to face difficult situations.
- has decreased interest in and little pleasure from daily activities.
- may have recurring thoughts of death.
- feelings of worthlessness and guilt.
- often feels unloved.
- she may not be sleeping or eating.
- has a constant, pacing mind encompassed by pacing mannerisms (wringing hands).
- overcoming feeling of hopelessness.
- often stop doing her daily responsibilities.
Understanding: There may be holes in her knowledge of Him.
Acceptance: She knows but is rebelling against who He is in her life. Who she believes God to be impacts every area of her life.
A.W. Tozer’s challenge: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
2. There are 4 TRUTHS that she must believe if she is to escape the spiritual darkness of depression:
a. God is completely Sovereign!
Understanding the TRUTH: God’s providence (His divine control) is: His constant care for and absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people. (Romans 8:28)
Acceptance: We can trust His control over our lives. His purpose is always for our good and His glory!
b. God is Infinite in Wisdom!
Understanding the TRUTH: She needs to trust God’s wisdom in everything that is happening in her life. (Romans 11:33)
Acceptance: She can take pleasure in His wisdom as He works His purposes in her life.
c. God is perfect in His love for us!
Understanding the TRUTH: The love of God wills the good of all and never wills harm or evil to any. His Love desires what is best. Always. For His glory. (Romans 8:35-39, Psalm 34:8)
Acceptance: God’s love is so great! Nothing can separate her from the love of God.
d. God is Good!
Understanding the TRUTH: Psalm 34:8 says “Oh taste (discover by experience, learn) and see (come to understand and know) that the Lord is good: (God meets all of the requirements of being good– there is nothing lacking in His goodness) blessed (Happy) is the man that trusteth in Him. (puts her hope in, seeks refuge in, places confidence in)”.
Acceptance: By going through tough times and trials, share will her the blessing of it:
Before we said, I trust God.
Now we experience trusting in God.
We see that He truly is good.
The result is blessing.
3. She has 2 choices. Fight God’s plan or submit to Him and His plan.
Understanding the TRUTH: But now, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand. Isaiah 64:8
Acceptance: Our Potter, is using the adversity to form her into the image of His Son, Jesus. His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8, Proverbs 14:12
4. We all need to understand the sin that is involved in our wrong response to God’s control (if we choose to fight against His plan):
(following taken from Future Grace, by John Piper)
Understanding the TRUTH: Pride responds negatively to the sovereignty of God. Pride wants to be in control. James 4:13-16 speaks of its arrogant nature.
a) Boasting is the voice of pride in the strong. The sounds of self-sufficiency. It is the response of pride to success. “There are things that I deserve because I have achieved so much!”
b) Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. “I am worthy of more! Recognize my sacrifice! I deserve more than I am getting!
c) When pride is not strong anxiety sets in. In the heart of the proud, anxiety is to the future what self-pity is to the past: It says “I deserve better! But, because I may not get better in the future, I am anxious!” I must make it happen somehow! Truth shouts “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9”.
d) Fear is a form of pride. The depressed person may be having panic attacks. Isaiah 51:12 says “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass. And you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; you have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor.” Pride in the fearful says “I deserve better but because I may not get it I am fearful”.
Remind her to cast all of her anxious fears upon God (Phil 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:6)
e) All of this process of pridefully trying to control her circumstances when she cannot possibly control anything in her life results in HOPELESSNESS! It is almost diagnostic of depression!
Understanding: There is HOPE in Jesus! (Hebrews 12:2)
Acceptance: She needs to refocus her hope on Jesus and the promise of eternity. (2 Cor. 4:15)
She may constantly say” “But I can’t help how I feel!”
She must understand that depression is something we do.
She must ask herself the following questions:
1. What does this emotion reveal about me?
2. What do I love more than I love what will bring glory to God through my life?
3. What am I really saying and doing by way of this emotion? (Do I pridefully want my own way, am I rebelling against God’s will for me, am I stomping my little foot at God, am I not trusting God’s wisdom and love and goodness to me?)
Understanding that she does have a choice about her feelings gives HOPE! Remind her about 1 Corinthians 10:13, and the freedom that comes with claiming this truth in her life.
2. Remind and encourage her to DO what is right whether she feels like it or not.
The depressed person often will stop doing her responsibilities. As the neglected responsibilities pile up, the problems in her life multiply which leads to more depression. It is a cycle she must escape.
3. Structure. Give her homework.
The depressed person often needs simple boundaries, guidelines, reminders and organized plans. Her homework might include:
1. Get to bed and out of bed at the same time each day.
2. Eat at appointed times.
3. Exercise at appointed times.
4. Have a schedule for the day.
5. Write down one thing you agree to work on every day.
6. Follow through on the agreements you make with other people. Let your yes be yes.
4. It is important to start low.
It is important to not impose a pace beyond her reach. Start low and gradually increase tasks and goals. Have frequent times of accountability!
It is all about coming alongside the person, with an arm around the shoulder, and if need be, crying with them. . .
but giving them loving truth! Without that, you are just becoming someone that is feeding their depression, not giving them biblical hope!
If you think you may be depressed or know someone that is:
2. Seek a biblical counselor in your area. One that can keep you accountable by providing truth from God’s Word. Seek a counselor at your church.
Remember my post from yesterday? Not Satisfied Until. . .
It was based upon a choice. A choice that I need to choose every day. It reminds me of a quote, that when I heard it, it was life-changing and pierced my deepest of inward parts:
Remember the key: Matthew 26:41