Recently, many of my conversations with friends and family have centered around muddy circumstances. They talk about difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. They feel “down” with the weight of dread and fear. Their appetite is poor, or there’s overeating. With no energy, they just want to pull the covers over their head and never get out of bed. These types of feelings invite doom and doubt into our lives and become annoying guests or companions.
If I took a survey, I think it would show that many of us have experienced such feelings. However, far too often, these emotional reactions become part of our daily lives. They turn into suction cups or squatters that hold on and won’t let go. Over time, as you live with them, they begin to feel cozy like your favorite easy chair. They transition into your “go-to place” whenever you need a familiar touch.
Today’s environment is a breeding ground for thoughts of hopelessness and doubt. The most common term for these types of responses is depression—also known as sadness, gloom, sorrow, melancholy, and bitterness. Its silent partner, oppression, operates in the mind and exercises control over the person. It is a vicious cycle.
Certain triggers make us vulnerable to depression, such as extreme financial difficulty, loss of a job, illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, stress, feelings of no purpose, or drugs (self-induced or medically prescribed). In addition, there can be a partial hereditary trigger passed to us by one or more parents. Or, in chronic cases, you just feel like being depressed.
Several people in the Bible had every reason to be depressed:
Despite these bitter and seemingly hopeless and endless situations, these courageous forerunners never became depressed. Instead, their instruments of success were prayer, joy, and praise/singing.
Humans seem to have such difficulty using these powerful gifts. Yet, some animals use them every day. For example, humpback whales leap 50 feet into the air to express their joy and then sing tunes below the surface of the water. Birds sing every day. Cats purr when they are happy.
When you are joyful, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are without sadness, but it is like a push on the life-swing that sends you into the air with a smile on your face. That kind of joy will always move depression.
The greatest expressions of joy can be seen in babies. When they are loved, fed, and wear dry diapers, they lift their legs into the air and kick while laughing with joy. Sometimes, before they learn to walk, they scoot along the floor, squealing with delight in being able to independently get from one spot to another. When they begin to take their first steps, as wobbly as they may be, they laugh and smile while mommy holds out her arms to catch them.
Prayer is the freedom to express your true self to God. This includes your weaknesses, your fears, and any other concerns you have. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He is no respecter of persons. Male, female, child, ordinary person, businessperson, or leader are all loved by Him.
The final instrument for gaining success over depression is you. In reality, the responsible person for your mental and spiritual well-being is always you. Challenging? Yes. But the Good Shepherd is standing by to rescue whenever you need Him. (Psalm23)