All around us are signs that Christmas is almost here. The malls are full and the restaurants busy with holiday shoppers. During what to most is a joyful time, there are those who do not share the same feelings…perhaps because of memories past, tight budgets, illness or broken family relationships. I pray the Lord will use this blog and those that preceded it to be an encouragement and perhaps even to shed light on why you have no joy or pleasure during holiday times.
Our text is, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you Lord are with me.” In the preceding blog I spoke of shadows that contribute to depression. One of the shadows that often brings depression is ‘destructive thought patterns.’ II Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us we must ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.’ Why is that? Because you and I have a ‘tornado in our minds.’ Satan uses what we think about to control us and wrong thoughts act like a tornado. As wrong thoughts take root in our hearts they gather speed and power leading to ultimate destruction.
Scripture says “as a man thinketh…so is he.” Every action is first a thought. Automatic thinking is dangerous, especially if your thoughts are almost always negative or sinful or dark in nature. Our minds must be trained by our will to purposefully think. Purposeful thinking takes practice and it involves thinking on things that are true, according to God’s Word and refusing to think on dark, defeating and hopeless thoughts. II Cor. describes these defeating thoughts as strongholds (strongholds are habitual patterns of destructive thinking or habitual patterns of destructive behavior). These strongholds of the mind can lead to depression or keep an individual in depression.
Examine your thinking! Are your thoughts uplifting or are they defeating? Do you see that learning to re-train your mind takes work and it is work that you must do? Someone else cannot do it for you. You must fight to regain control of your mind. It is spiritual warfare and your weapon is God’s Word.
Another device that Satan uses to bring depression is the unwillingness to forgive. Unforgiveness is a major cause of depression. Holding on to grudges, past offenses, and hurts may seem justified but in reality they put you in bondage. Forgiveness gives you freedom. When you forgive it does not mean that the person is not guilty, or that you will not cry again, or that you will never think of the event again, or even that it will not still hurt. Forgiveness is about obedience to God.
God’s Word says, “If you don’t forgive those who trespass (sin) against you, God will not forgive your trespasses (sins). No offense is worth estrangement from God’s forgiveness. Unforgiveness that lies in your heart will eventually become bitterness and bitterness will become depression. Through unforgiveness we give Satan access to our lives. Through forgiveness we not only obey God but we take back ground that we gave to Satan through unforgiveness.
Jesus said this, “I have come so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Take inventory of your thinking. Pray and ask God to reveal to you thoughts that have contributed to your depression. Defeating thoughts do not come from God, they come from Satan. Would you right now ask God for His help? Let me give you something that might be of help in learning to think differently.
You will need a notebook or journal to write in. You will need a pen and Bible, that’s all. In your notebook draw a line down the middle of the page. At the top of the left side of the page write “MY TRUTH” and at the top of the right side of the page write, “REALITY CHECK-GOD’S TRUTH.” Under the heading of “MY TRUTH” start listing every negative thought you presently believe to be truth. They may not come to you all at once. Keep going back until you can think of no others.
Set aside 30 minutes each day to spend time searching out truth from the Word of God. Perhaps you wrote as one of your thoughts under “MY TRUTH,” God isn’t here to help me.” Hebrews 13:5b says, “I will never leave you nor will I forsake you.” Under “GOD’S TRUTH” write out Hebrews 13: 5b. Continue this exercise until you have refuted every negative thought with truth. NOW, every morning and evening read aloud God’s truth so that your mind and heart hears the truth. You are re-training your mind to think truth. Healing is always a process. It will take time. Healing is not about relief, it is “restoring your mind and heart so that you are able to be used by God.” It is about God and His glory.
Friend, I promise you that if you will allow God and His Word to work in your life you will have a blessed Christmas and a blessed year. He came to give you abundant life. Will you do what it takes to experience life abundant? Remember, you cannot change without God and He will only change you if you let Him.