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Rev. Paul J. Bucknell
Depression in the News | Obtaining Hope | Emotions, Feelings and Depression
Gaining Discernment | Root Cause| The Path (5Ds)
Hope Through Obedience | A Strong Shield | Rebuild Foundation
Deeper Trust | Two Truths | Deliverance Cycle
Finding Hope to Combat Depression is part 7 of 12 which provides three lessons on overcoming depression from the way Jesus responded to that dark, dark night. 'Adopting God's Hope, Overcoming Depression' is the ninth lesson in a series on "Reaching Beyond Mediocrity."
They most often enter through some form of failure, which is often disobedience but not always. A father might expect top grades. The son might get depressed over not performing up to his dad's expectation. "I just can''t do it. I tried so hard. I guess I am a failure." The expectations might be his own. It doesn't matter. The same result occurs. And so, after battling in his mind and with his work, he resigns to defeat.
This resignation, or giving into dejection, however is always sin. For us to get a better picture of this, let us go back to the hours preceding the cross where Jesus faced his own lack of success.
This was the darkest time in the universe. Even the sky went black at the time of Christ's death. Satan seemed to have the upper hand and was found leading the Messiah, the righteous one, to death. Jesus was severely tempted during this time.
The spirit of despair was all about Jesus. His disciples all gave up hope. Even lingering Peter who talked big about devotion, failed Him when it came to the time of testing. Peter denied his friendship with Jesus. The time was dark. His disciples left Him. How was salvation going to spread throughout the world?
The time at Gethsemane was the time that proved that Jesus was the second Adam who focused on obedience. He is the one we are to learn from.
"Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).
If a dream was ever broken, this was the one. Just days before, Jesus was leading a crowd shouting, "Hosanna." But now, it looked like He completely failed. The only way to battle these temptations is with the truth and faithfulness. The evil one powerfully tempted Jesus, but note how Jesus responded.
"Saying, "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:42-44).
We have so much to learn from Jesus. Here are three lessons.
A spirit of depression tells us that God's way, the right way, is not working. Those who have entered despair will loudly hear this message again and again so they that they begin to believe it. Jesus, however, trusted His Father's plan. We must do likewise. Although the story of a woman's problem with laundry seems so mundane, depression can threaten anyone anywhere. Jesus held on to the basic belief that God's plan is always best.
In the case with the laundry, the wife should have shed the thoughts, "My friends are special with good paying jobs, but here I am hanging over a laundry basket."
Humble deeds are important. God's greatest works could never be done without the unseen tasks of love done in secret. Never underestimate the power of doing what is right. Carry out your responsibilities because they are God's will for you (Romans 12:2).
Judas Iscariot displayed the whole cycle of depression in just days. He lost hope that the people of Israel would be saved by Jesus and gave himself over to sin. Judas coveted ￼and betrayed Jesus. Satan quickly finished the job with ending Judas' now severe case of depression by having him commit suicide.
Obedience is our goal. Obedience assumes that God's will is right and good. This is our calling to live righteous lives to reflect God's glory. This commitment might take us through difficult times. It did for Jesus, but it is our constant hope that God will reward our obedience somehow and some day.
As Jesus endured this temptation and torture on the cross, we wonder how He did it. The promise is true. God will always give extra grace according to our need. We have used this verse before, but its clear and powerful statement is very helpful.
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
God will make it sure that we will never encounter a situation that is beyond our ability to endure. He makes sure we have extra grace to endure. God did this with Jesus, and He will do it with ourselves. These kind of truths become the backbone of our faith.
While despair is not directly linked to fear, fear can keep us from doing what is right. Jesus plodded straight into the evil one's path and faced a terrible death. Things might not be so bad for us, but they can seem to be so when the evil one dangles webs of fear about us.
The key to endurance is to go back to your life call of obedience to your Master. Walk the road wherever it leads you. If you waver on this, then you will be further tempted. The more you waver, the more you will be tempted and the easier it is for us to fall.
We often understand what is true by what we see around us. Be careful. Peter found trouble when he looked at the waves rather than Jesus. The same will be true with us. The wife looked at the mound of laundry piled up and said to herself, "I can't do it." So she would leave it for another day, hoping she would have more courage to attack the pile the next time! Would she? Probably not.
Faith often goes contrary to sight. We will not make our best decisions when we base them on what we see or feel. We need to train ourselves to focus on what we should do. Jesus focused on the Father's will. Let me give a few examples.
In the situations above, we always should leave ample room to evaluate ourselves and improve. We are not speaking of blind faith or positivism. If we have not done our best, then acknowledge that and improve. Change the way you do things and prioritize things. Get others' input.
But having examined our lives and performance, we need to turn our face to the Lord. Like Joseph in the Old Testament, although his dream popped, his dreams dashed to the ground, he stayed steadfast focusing on doing the right thing at all times. He did not let the horrible circumstances that he was in cause him to give up. The spirit of defeat is from the evil one. God gave us a spirit to reign in Christ.
All the above examples could lead to a spirit of resignation. The spirit of anxiety shouts doubt as to whether God can work things out. Anxiety creeps into the discussion of depression. These subtle fears darken the picture ahead. The spirit of depression comes in with anxiety and introduces the choice of giving up. "Since you can't go forward, you may as well give up."
The spirit of victory might be shrouded with signs of defeat and gloom, but by being focused on faith in God's will and mixed with simple obedience (doing what one is responsible for), one shall prevail and fight the spirit of depression. Note the spirit in this psalmist.
"Many times they have persecuted me from my youth up; Yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back; They lengthened their furrows. The LORD is righteous; He has cut in two the cords of the wicked" (Psalms 129:2-4).
Things did not look well. He experienced much pain (This pain might be due to neglect or more probable because he chose to live God's way). He kept fixed on doing what was right despite the pain and rejection he faced. He was determined to follow the Lord's path no matter what. Those who focus on immediate reward will always be toying with temptations of depression. Instead focus on obedience. Get God's work done. And with the Psalmist, you will be able to say, "Yet they have not prevailed against me."
Depression comes from doubting God's ability or willingness to help a person cope with some given circumstance. The temptations that we have highlighted above focus more on the temptation to resign oneself to one's circumstances.
Remember how this spirit of despondency and spirit of giving up is also characteristic of anxiety, stress and other 'lack of confidence' sins. Defeat cannot come without us giving up. By giving up, we take the controls off our life and try to ignore the future. Instead let us take control of the future. "I will obey the Lord even though I have no idea how it will work out." Faith leads us into obedience and obedience delivers us from depression.
Let's see how to better protect and defend ourselves!