When the darkness comes, reach for the light.
“I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.” Psalm 34:1 (NLT)
I tend toward the melancholy.
Awhile back I was struggling more often than usual with the temptation to depression, a lack of joy, and an oppression of the spirit. I know there are many others who struggle with this and I want to share what helps me most.
(To clarify: I’m NOT talking about chemical imbalance and I’m not discussing clinical depression here).
I’m talking about a feeling of sadness that comes for no obvious reason. Feeling gloomy or unhappy sometimes in spite of having things go well in life. It might be unexplained or it might come because of sin and suffering in the world or because of my own failings and weaknesses.
When I fall into this kind of depression, these choices help me the most:
- Singing praise to God out loud. Spending time alone with God and singing praise songs to Him is powerful. There’s more power in singing out loud but listening to praise music is also healing.
- Prayer. Our greatest resource. We can tell God exactly how we feel. It’s important also to confess our sins. We can tell Him what we desire Him to do in our lives. If I feel powerless to pray, I pray the Psalms. Some that have helped me: Psalm 37, 34, 32, 23, 27, 40 and 42 but any of the Psalms are helpful.
- Reading and meditating on Scripture. Reading God’s Word is essential. Quoting Scripture out loud helps to focus our minds on the truth. “For the word of God is alive and powerful…” Hebrews 4:12a (NLT) His Word is supernatural and meditating on its truth can bring peace and calm to our souls.
- Resisting isolation. When I feel depression coming in my spirit, often my first temptation is to isolate myself and shut others out. This only makes things worse and amplifies the darkness. Reaching out to someone we trust and can share our hearts with will often drive the dark feeling away. I’ve found that the more I keep my negative thought patterns to myself, the stronger they get. But time and time again when I share those thoughts, just saying them out loud to someone exposes them as lies.
- Keeping a balance between physical exertion (exercise/work) and rest. If we go for a period of time without doing anything that requires physical exertion, it can lead to a depressed feeling, but if we’re always on the go and never take time to rest, that also can leave us depressed. We need balance.
- Remembering we are in a war. We’re all in a Spiritual battle but those who seek to get closer to Jesus will meet the enemy head on. Satan will attack anyone who follows Jesus. Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT). However, we overcome him through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, our testimony and prayer. (Revelation 12:11) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV)
One particular morning I was feeling the darkness. I read my daily devotions and meditated on His truth. Later, I remembered about praising God. By choice, not by feeling I began to sing praises to Him. I put on praise music and exercised while praising Him. I poured out my heart to Him. He lifted me from the pit (Psalm 40)!
Some experience depression that goes beyond what they can deal with by themselves. It may even be caused by a chemical imbalance. At those times, it is important to seek help from a counselor or a doctor. There was a time when my depression became so persistent that I went to a counselor for some months. God used her to help me tremendously! There’s nothing wrong with needing help. God created us as beings that need each other.
May God give grace and peace to anyone reading this who is suffering from depression or persistent sadness. Please use it Lord. Use it to bring them closer to you. Please shine your light into their darkness.
Please comment below if you need prayer to get through a season of depression. He loves you with an everlasting love!
Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions