Depression is real. It’s not something you aim for, but as life happens, depression sometimes visits. It’s real enough it must be managed. But so many people simply do not know how. People are looking for help and hope. There is help. And there is hope.
The Psalmist struggled with depression. However, the Psalmist knew he could cry out to God, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Ps. 42:5,11; 43:5)
David’s transparency is encouraging. He talks honestly about his difficulties. Then he tells himself to put his hope in God – an invitation that carries forward to you and me.
Facts About Depression
- Nobody sets out to become depressed on purpose.
- Although there are increasing findings about depression related to certain mental or emotional scenarios, there is no guarantee a person will experience or not experience depression based on their choices.
- Depression can seriously affect a person’s outlook, view of self, and behavior patterns.
- The human heart was not created to withstand long stretches of severe depression. There must be a “release valve” or “management action plan” to navigate depression.
- You can manage depression successfully and live a healthy, balanced life with hope for the future.
Depression And Pain Are Related
Although not always linked, depression and pain can be connected. They are cousins. Sometimes they visit and linger too long as your “guests.” More often, they feel like predators. As much as you want them OUT, you feel helpless to make them leave. Instead you find yourself asking questions:
- Why is this condition still present in my life?
- Why won’t it leave?
- What have I mismanaged that this continues?
- Am I being punished?
- Why do I have to live with circumstances I would never wish on anyone?
- Is God aware of my condition? If so, where is He?
- How can I pull out of this miserable place?
Some Things That Matter
Let’s reflect together on threads you can pull on. You know why? Because these threads are tethered to God.
Some of you have successfully held on for a long time. Don’t discount that. In fact, give yourself high marks for holding on. Gold medals and championships are won by people who hold on. It’s a huge accomplishment to hold on and keep going. Perseverance matters. It’s no little thing. And it strongly showcases your courage and your discipline.
2. God sees and cares.
God loves you deeply. Before you ever speak a thought or put a choice into action, He is aware. Is. 65:24 has a message of God’s intimate presence. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” God is leaning toward you and wants to help you. He is the one who hands out the gold medals of eternity. Not only does He help the person who turns to Him in their discouragement. He also blesses the person who perseveres. God’s opinion matters. And He has a high opinion of you.
You can develop and carry out a flexible management plan to be healthy even while addressing depression. As long as you choose to do helpful things to manage it, you can stay in a good place. Learning and growing matter. Discipline matters. You will keep learning to manage discouraging times all your life. Let your next decision be to become pro-active as you develop and carry out a management plan.
4. Co-existing Conditions Are Part Of Life.
Good can and does co-exist alongside depression and pain. You may feel you are at the end of your rope. Finding and holding onto good – matters. Ask God to open your eyes to little things that encourage. He’s filled your life with them so you don’t lose hope.
5. Time Passes Quickly.
Life seems to drag out when you suffer. However, you have to admit – life is flying by. Earthly lives are very short. Numbering your days and thoughtfully pursuing even a small measure of purpose each day – matters.
6. Perspective Matters.
Your perspective can change your emotional landscape. It’s a kind of trigger that launches your life onto a higher plain. Perspective matters. The kind of character you practice matters.
God is patient, kind, and good. He has sleeves rolled up to help you. Yes, you may feel overwhelmed. But God knows and cares. He can be trusted. That matters. But whether He helps is up to you. You’ve got to let Him help! Just come close to Him with your heart. It works! Hope is found in Christ. This also matters. James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Do you believe and practice this?
What To Hold Onto
When you suffer, it is easy to hear wrong messages. It is tempting to think God doesn’t care. He cares and loves you deeply. But God is not under obligation to answer your questions in your time frame or in the manner you expect Him to.
Jer. 31:3 says, “I have loved you with everlasting love.” This is true for you! Jer. 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Since He loves you so much and has good in mind for you, you can conclude He will carry you through depression.
Jesus is the Friend who will always listen. He promises companionship and compassion. Jesus will meet all your needs – if you trust and obey Him. God intends to:
- Lift you up.
- Provide comfort.
- Rekindle hope.
Launch yourself into God who deeply cares. It matters.
Very NORMAL people sometimes find themselves depressed. For most people, this is a temporary condition. Some manage depression for long seasons. Whichever might be true for you, if you commit to the above points, it is possible to navigate your way through and live a healthy, normal life. God will help you. To partner with God and be able to count on His help – matters!
Additional Action Steps Some Find Helpful
- Admit your state of mind and emotions. You must start here.
- Remember God’s love. Come close to Him by faith.
- Stay in Scripture. Instructions and promises from God’s Word are gifts. Write them out or put in your device – wherever you will see them. Picture practical application in your life (meditate). Scripture is POWER for you.
- Do something uplifting.
- Sometimes a walk encourages as you see nature and community features.
- Engage a creative activity to do something new.
- Call a friend and ask them to pray for you. Perhaps have coffee with them and ask for support. Don’t expect them to fix your situation. Just invite them to come alongside.
- Enjoy a favorite cuppa and small treat . . . but remember – don’t drown your misery in food. Instead, thank God for enjoyable things. Select a healthy daily diet. Good nutrition helps with depression.
- Write down little blessings that remind of God’s love and help. Thank God for each.
- Read uplifting book or see a positive movie.
- Stay active each day to release hormones that help.
- Write out your feelings and date them. Keep a log of little things God teaches as you trust Him. Record those with dates. This gives you a real-time document of how you held on and pulled through – a practical tool to help when you face difficulties again.
Three More Helpful Action Steps
- Practice gratitude. This propels a discouraged heart upward. It’s a cousin to hope.
- Practice cheer. You’ll be amazed how this affects your soul. What you practice is what you become.
- Set good boundaries. Don’t let other’s negative words pierce your heart. Instead, take in words of hope from Scripture. It may help to limit exposure to certain people.
If you stay depressed or discouraged a long time, keep these good practices. But also remember – “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) He will strengthen you with His hope. Hope is something you can participate in.
“In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom.8:28) In God’s estimation, your contributions in this difficult time is invaluable! There will come a time others might need someone like you!
Some depression is severe enough to receive medical care. It may also help to secure counseling from a professional skilled in Scriptural principles. There’s no shame in taking medication to step toward health – or talking with a counselor for emotional/spiritual health.
Remember: Jesus is the Great Physician and Wonderful Counselor. That matters.
“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save . . . will take great delight in you . . . will quiet you with His love . . . will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)
More help for depression.