Are the coming holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s times of joy or dread? For many they are anything but joy, for many reasons, financial stress, family issues as well as negative memories from the past. Depression seeps in stealing from each day all happiness and life seems flat.
When we are in the valley of depression it seems like a permanent condition. The Psalmist, David, said, “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.” Psa. 94:17 Though often discouraged David knew the Lord was there and that truth carried him through the dark days.
In the valley of depression there are shadows. The shadow may in truth be nothing more than a tree, or a bush or a reflection of yourself but shadows can be frightening. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” The valley of the shadow of death, though used often in funerals to comfort those who have lost a loved one has a greater meaning. During life there are many struggles, losses and sorrows that feel like death and we cling to the promise that God is faithful to His Word and carry us through those times. We didn’t experience death, only a shadow that felt like death.
I want to share some shadows in the valley of depression.
Shadow #1 All depression is sin.
All depression is not sin. Depression can result in sin if we allow it to but our emotions were created by God and are not sinful. If we allow depression to cause us to react in ways that are disobedient to God or in ways that do not honor God glory then our depression has become sinful. Depression, like any other struggle is a test. Deut. 8:2 says, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart…” Trials of any kind reveal our hearts.
Shadow #2 Depression can’t be God’s will
I Thess. 3:3 “God has appointed who shall suffer. Suffering comes not by chance, or by the will of man, but by the will and appointment of God.” When you are in a trial of any kind your belief about God’s sovereignty will determine how you react to the trial. Warren Wiersbe, a wonderful man of God said this, “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.” There are many testings throughout life. They are meant to bring greater intimacy with God.
Shadow #3 Feelings…the deceiver
When in depression your feelings may tell you to isolate, run, disappear, even die. Feelings are not facts, they are just feelings. Your feelings will not always tell you the truth but God will always speak truth. Distortion of reality is what depression is all about. When you live according to your feelings you are usually living contrary to the Word of God.
Listen to how one man described his feelings while in depression:
My concept of myself was so low, I felt I could sit on the edge of a sheet of paper and my feet would not touch the floor. I was convinced I had failed in every aspect of my life: as a son, husband, father, friend, and as a complete human being. I developed an uncanny skill to discern something bad in everything. As my depression deepened, so did the desire to withdraw. I had no interest in doing anything. Even the smallest task seemed like Mt. Everest—utterly insurmountable. Even though I was surrounded by love I felt unloved and rejected. I became saturated with self-pity and self-centeredness. I was filled with anxiety, couldn’t sleep, felt agitated and because of my gloomy shades crying came easily both day and night. I felt alienated from God.
This man has lived free of depression for many years now. Though he was a psychologist, he said his answers came only from God’s Word. God’s Word is a living, breathing Book of Life. The Psalmist proclaimed, My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Psa. 73:26
There are other ‘shadows’ that Satan uses to do what he does best, to kill, steal and destroy your life and reduce it to a miserable existence. In Blog #4, Part 3 I will share 2 other Shadows and conclude with practical helps that could make this holiday time the best you have ever had as you celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord.