Tackling Depression Heart On

Christians face depression, just like other people out in the world. One of the best things we can do is face the lies that are told to us while we are depressed and use God’s strength to tackle depression heart on. The reason why I say “heart” on is because out of the heart are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Our thoughts are not from our head, they are from our heart. We are taught from the Bible that words and actions originate from the heart (Matthew 5:18,19). To tackle depression, we need to tackle the heart of the issue.

Depression is nothing new to me, my first problems with depression surfaced in my high school years every September. It began with being involved in a relationship that I should not have been in, and the result of my having to break up with my boyfriend. The next year it was something else, then it was the transition to Bible College, then a bad break-up with a scary boyfriend, the cycle continued yearly. I dealt with Postpartum Depression after our sons were born and it took almost a year to be able to adjust to life. In those low situations, I became the prime target of Satan’s lies and pinned down by them. Depression just held me like a straightjacket, making me unable to deal with life for weeks and months at a time.

Tackling Depression

Lies spoken in our hearts from Satan during depression:
1. Do not ask for help.
2. You are the only person around you going through this.
3. You need something bigger than you to help you.
4. You are worthless.
5. You should end your life.
6. Run away, it will be easier.
7. People do not notice because they do not love you.
8. Stay away from people.
9. You are not saved.
10. God is silent to you because you are in sin.

It would be easy for me to take each of those lies and turn them around in a positive self-help sort of way and make you feel like you should be stronger than you are in these vulnerable moments. But my hope is to help you use the Word of God to be able to fight against the lies of the devil.

Truth For Tackling Depression Heart On…

1. Ask for help. Talk to your spouse and family about how you feel. Go to your doctor, some depression is caused by medical conditions. Ask others for prayer, read James 5:13-16 where you see that prayer for others makes a difference.

2. You are not the only person going through depression. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 1:9, there is nothing new under the sun. If there is nothing new under the sun, then the Lord has been helping people with depression for thousands of years. Read about how God ministered to Elijah in I Kings 19.

3. You do need something bigger than you to help you – not drugs or worldly substitutes but God. …The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:27

4. You are priceless, because God loves you. We love him because he first loved us. I John 4:19 He values you enough to allow His Son to die on the cross for your sins. You’ve probably heard it said, if you were the only person on this earth, Jesus would have still come to die for you because He loves you. He knows the hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and keeps the tears of his children in a bottle (Psalm 56:8) because you are priceless to Him.

5. God always values life and even though you may be in a low moment, your life was created for a purpose. There are better days ahead. Do not make a permanent decision to end your life for a temporary problem. These words were given to the children of Israel and I believe they speak about the value of life. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days…” Deuteronomy 30:19,20

6. Running to God is the only answer for the temptation to run away from problems. This is another situation in which you should not make a permanent decision for a temporary problem. God created the family unit to be dependent upon each other, your family needs you more than you realize, even if you are in a funk. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. Psalm 46:4,5

7. There are people in this world that love you. People may not notice your struggle with depression because they are selfish or they do not know how to cope with your depression themselves, not because they do not love you. There is always a handful of people in your life that love you so much that they would go out of their way to be able to help you. Reach out to one of them you trust and share your feelings.

8. Get around people and make a choice to minister to them. Depression and even grief may keep you out of the action of the game of life for a while, but it should not keep you out of the stands of life. It is okay to be a bystander temporarily, but at some point you should focus on maintaining relationships and caring for other people.  When you are depressed often you dwell a lot on yourself, being around others allows you the opportunity to meet the needs of people around you. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

9. Are you saved? The Bible says we need to work out our own salvation in fear in trembling (Philippians 2:12). Not everyone that names the name of Christ is a true believer on Him. In the day of judgment there will be people that God says, “Depart from me, I never knew you…”(Matthew 7:22,23) Depression can be an indicator of the spirit within you recognizing the void you have being separated from God.

Sin in our lives separates us from God, when we are unsuccessful through good works to appease God then the void of not having a complete sense of being is magnified. Many people try to find substitutes to fill the void they are sensing which can lead to depression and addictions. When the substitutes still leave a void of emptiness then increased depression or the next steps of higher or greater addictions will begin to be used to replace it. If the person does not realize the peace of God through salvation, then they may plunge deeper or have prolonged depression that begins to effect the entire body.

I like to explain it like this. Savior means rescuer. We need someone to rescue us from our sins because we cannot save ourselves. Salvation is a complete belief that Jesus was that Savior. He died on the cross taking all the sins ever committed by man upon Himself so we would not have to pay for our sins in hell for ourselves. The belief must include that Jesus rose again 3 days after He died conquering sin and death. (Romans 10:9) Salvation also includes repentance (Mark 1:14,15), which is turning in your heart from sin that you love as an unbeliever to belief in Jesus Christ and changing your life and be obedient to God’s instructions in the Bible.

In our heart of hearts we can sense our need and the dissatisfaction there is because sin reigns in our lives. God wants fellowship with you, but there has to be a choice made on your part to love and believe on Him. It is simple to really have Christ as your own personal Savior. Romans 10:9 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
When you call on God it does not mean your circumstances will completely disappear, it means that you have peace with God that now your sins are forgiven, you can feel a sense of completeness. Then it is your responsibility to begin to learn from the Bible how God wants you to live your life.

If you have made the decision to trust Christ, then salvation does not leave you because you are going through a depression. God holds His children in His hand and nothing can pluck them out (John 10:28).

10. Sin is not always the reason for depression, but sometimes it is. Some people say, “God is silent to you because you are in sin…” I do not know your heart so I cannot say whether you are living in sin or not. If you are unsaved then you are living in sin (Ezekiel 18:20), if you are saved then your personal choices determine whether you are in sin or not (Romans 6:6). The consequences of sinful choices can cause problems in our lives that bring about a depression. Other times our reaction to circumstances cause depression. Finally, other times it is medical. I believe that most depression is a physical and emotional sign of a spiritual problem. You can simply ask God to show you if you have sin in your heart and life, when and if He reveals it, then it is time to confess it and make your heart right before Him.  Psalm 139:23,24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. God also uses silence sometimes as a test of our faith and obedience.

The Conclusion is: Cry Out To God!! The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 God is there, please allow the words from the Bible to speak the truth to you so that you do not slip from depression into a self-hatred or a suicide attempt. Lies will defeat you, but the truth will set you free!

Enduring Hardness in Ministry

Enduring Hardness in Ministry

Ministry is hard work! The Bible instructs all Christians that they should endure hardness, like a good solider. Many of us do well enduring hardness because in many ways it just becomes a way of life through trials and working with people.

II Timothy 2:3 says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

My husband and I recently watched an of a TV show about how special operations military men get chosen to be a part of the units that turn into  Army Rangers that are the best of the best within the Army. The men attempting to become Army Rangers try out for 8 weeks under very stressful situations of exercise, limited sleep, small amounts of food, and it eventually builds up to having to lead operations in the woods of Georgia and the swamps of Florida to complete a mission while explosions are going off and shots are being fired. Out of over 300 men that began the training, I believe only 90 made it. It was hard to watch the men go through the hardness of the instructors while they were physically exhausted for weeks. The purpose their instructors gave was to simulate real situations they would go through if they were a part of the Ranger operational team as well as train them to rely on the soldier working beside them completely.

After watching personal interviews of several of the men and their instructors, you could see a hardness about their face. I know the life of a soldier is not easy and they see things that most Americans cannot fathom and they still go on… but you may notice spiritual soldiers in the work of the Lord can begin to hold that same amount of hardness in their face because of the battles they face from people or other spiritual matters.

God allows us to have spiritual battles in our lives. Satan attacks from every angle. Personal discouragement, immediate and extended family issues, church problems, finances, you name it and it can probably become a platform on which Satan can wage a battle against you, the people you love, or the church where you serve.

Hardness

The Greek word, kakopatheo, according to the Strong’s Concordance, is used in 2 Timothy 2:3 as the word hardness. It means “hardship, to be afflicted, endure afflictions, suffer troubles.”

Life is Hard. Period. For Everyone.

Ministry is Hard. Period. For Everyone.

We all have an equal opportunity to endure hardness… but we will not all do it in a way that pleases the Lord.

Enduring hardness means enduring rejection. Rejection of the values you hold dear, rejection of the Bible’s truths, rejection of God Himself and the priceless sacrifice Christ gave. Rejection of you personally when people decide to use you temporarily until their life gets better and they move on. More rejection of you or maybe even your spouse or children.

Enduring hardness means enduring sorrow. Sorrow in knowing the consequences of sin that await those that choose the path of the foolish. Sorrow in feeling alone in the work of the Lord. Sorrow in the unknown answers of the questions  you harbor in your heart.  Sorrow in the losses you experience when people you serve walk away.

Enduring Hardness means having faith when you cannot see. God can see all things, past, present, and future, and we cannot. We do not have the spiritual night goggles to be able to see the purposes of our trials on earth as we walk often through the valley of the shadow of death, so we must walk in faith. Walking in faith is not easy, sometimes it is like dragging our body through the mud, clutching to our firearm, keeping our head down low as the shots of the enemy fire above our heads. Faith is knowing that our spiritual safety is in God’s hand and that there are moments in time where the light of God’s Word and His Spirit will show  us the answers and provide for our needs. Faith must be toward all things in this life, whether material, financial, emotional, or spiritual.

Enduring hardness means extending yourself.  You can extend yourself until you want to no longer give. Sometimes it is extending your time and giving people more time than they seem to be worth. It’s extending your hand to “give to him that needeth,” even when they never seem to give to anyone else. It’s extending hospitality and opening your home to people who have allowed their kids to jump all over your furniture in the past. It is  extending the spiritual help someone needs to keep themselves going all while never expecting much in return.

Enduring hardness means dealing with offenses. People will hurt you and offend you. The Bible says that offenses will come, and they seem to abound when you work in the ministry. They come from the most likely of sources and sometimes blindside you from the person you did not expect. We must endure the hardness of offenses and extend forgiveness often when it is not even asked for in return or acknowledged when we are sinned against. Experiencing hurt can be hard and providing forgiveness at times is impossible, until we look at Christ’s forgiveness of our own sins.

Enduring hardness means identifying with Christ. Jesus Christ was the man of sorrows that endured the cross as He bore our shame. (Hebrews 12:2) Christ was persecuted, and said that when we go through persecution, it is because He and the prophets were also persecuted (Matthew 5:12). Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus, “…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus Christ came to earth and identified with man in becoming the God-Man (100% God and 100% man) and the experience allowed Him to know what it was like to be a man.

When we identify with Christ through enduring the hardness of this life, then we understand Him and the sorrow He went through when He took our sins on the cross.

He endured the hardest obstacle of His life, giving up the Ghost, losing His life for the sake of ours. In many ways it is hard to even comprehend, but again, it was for me and for you. How could we endure as a good soldier if we did not have a Commander that has also gone through the trenches of this life and succeeded?

On the TV show that I mentioned, each instructor had experienced the Army Ranger training themselves, the real combat missions on the battlefield, and life threatening dangers, before they were allowed to become an instructor. They were able to encourage those that were attempting to complete the course because they have been through it all themselves. They were able to direct and give pointers at certain times during the course because of their experiences. Jesus Christ gives us pointers and encouragement because He knows what it is like to be in human flesh and endure the hardness of this world. What a loving God we serve!

Why should we endure?

The end of 2 Timothy 2:3 says, “that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

Our endurance as a good soldier pleases God, who called us to ministry.

AND We have THE Hero of all Heroes to look up to! Jesus can help us to be able to endure the hardness of ministry and when God seeks to find pleasure in our work for Him then we know that our work is worthwhile.

The next article in this mini-series will be about having compassion in ministry while you are enduring hardness.

 

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