Psalm 42:5 says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
When I was 23 years old I gave birth to my firstborn. Five weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer. I was devastated. By her side I fought for her life for the next 2 years. At the same time I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I accepted that diagnosis without hesitation because I had all the symptoms that the doctor described. Unwillingness to get out of bed, loss of appetite, lethargy, changes in weight, insomnia, even feelings of suicide.
I was immediately put on medication and told that I would better within a few weeks. I started taking the meds and did start feeling a little better and as time went on I noticed a difference in my symptoms. Problem was that they didn’t go away. I was exhibiting the exact opposite of them. Couldn’t sleep, was hungry all the time, lost a bunch of weight, (due to increase energy level), then would sleep for days at a time, and the feelings of suicide increased. I walked around in a daze most of the time and feeling like my brain was in the middle of a fog.
I finally weaned myself off of the medication and decided to try to combat my depression in other ways. I kept myself busy. I cooked all the time, something I loved to do. I immersed myself in work. And I lived my life, on the outside, as if nothing was wrong. But down deep inside me I knew something was missing. I just hadn’t figured out what that was.
I was saved as a young child of ten and baptized. I grew up knowing about God. But I never KNEW God. I was never told or taught that I needed a relationship with Him and that a walk with God should be the most important thing in my life. As a young adult I was aware of a calling, a presence; deep inside of me, I knew I needed to be connected to Him; I just wasn’t sure how to accomplish that. There was a longing in my heart, a desire to be fulfilled, to be completed in a way that only God can accomplish.
It would take many years later and several trials in my life, including the birth of two more children, and a very messy divorce, that everything in the world is ultimately meaningless unless we do what God wants, unless we are in God’s will. We can gain money and possessions, but they don’t satisfy. We know that when we die, it will all fall away and mean nothing.
Depression is one of the most common emotional ailments. One antidote for depression is to meditate on the record of God’s goodness to His people. This will take your mind off the present situation and give promise that it will improve. It will focus your thoughts on God’s ability to help you rather than on your inability to help yourself. When you feel depressed, take advantage of God’s antidepressant. Read the accounts of God’s goodness in His word and meditate on them. Everything you need to combat depression is in His Word.
Accept each day exactly as it comes to you. Don’t dwell on yesterday…it is past. Don’t think about tomorrow…it is yet to come. Don’t dwell on the circumstances of your day to day life. It was recently said to me by the pastor at our youth church camp…”Don’t let the circumstances of your life dictate your faith.” This SO rung true for me. In the last few weeks, I have been undergoing a transformation in my life. I have allowed the circumstances of my life to dictate how much faith I have had and how much I rely on God to help me with those circumstances. I had a good friend give me a devotional book and it is written as if Jesus were speaking to me directly. She will never know how much this book has helped me in the short week that I have had it.
Jesus gives us an assignment to trust in Him absolutely by resting in His sovereignty and faithfulness. On some days…that is easily said and done. On other days…it is not so easy. The demands on my life seem far greater than my strength. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives—giving up or relying on Him. Even if I choose the first of the two, which is wrong by the way, depression sets in. God does not reject us. He does, however, help me crawl out of discouragement. He infuses His strength into me, giving me all that I need for the day ahead of me.
Do you need a greater sense of “God with you.”? Or perhaps He seems far away and you just want Him near. Whatever the case may be, Jesus is calling out to you. The question is…are you listening?