December and depression go hand in hand for some people. Christmastime my be more dreary than merry. Guest blogger and biblical counselor Julie Ganschow, who is director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center in Kansas City, MO, shares hope with folks struggling with depression. This post first appeared here and is used with her permission.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins. Psalm 25: 16-18, NASB
This time of the year ushers in greater feelings of depression for some people. The daylight hours get shorter, and the weather gets cooler for most of us. We spend more time indoors and simply have more time to think about our problems and woes.
There seem to be plenty of woes to go around in the world these days. Isn’t that the case where you are? Whether it be from unemployment or family trouble the general mood of so many people that write or call me is one of fear, depression, or anxiety brought on by situations in life they cannot control. Consider this little poem I came across:
Oh God, where are you in my sorrow? Where are you in my distress?
Where are you with answers and help?
Oh God I need you. I am washed over with grief and sorrow, my heart is failing within me.
Oh God, comfort me in my distress this morning! Lift up my countenance bring me hope and joy! Remove these dark clouds of despair from my heart and mind.
Each time I think the darkness can grow no deeper I am brought lower into the abyss of sorrow and mourning. My life has taken jolting twists and turns and I fear I do not know where I will wind up in the end. It is as though I am on a runaway cart in the darkest cavern and I am holding on for dear life.
Where can I find You Lord? Where do I go to bask in Your goodness and light? I wish to hide myself in Thee, in the folds of Your magnificent train.
Comfort me in my distress Oh Lord, for I am weak and failing to stand.
I don’t know where this poem came from, but it was written by someone who was obviously in some trouble! You can hear a grieving heart in the words of the author who is in great emotional distress. I think these sentiments would accurately describe many people I have contact with these days. I can also say my own heart has recently reflected thoughts like these.
Is Escape an Answer to Depression?
The world’s answers to these feelings is medication to artificially alter the chemicals in our bodies so we have no emotional discomfort. I have to admit, that when I find myself “washed over with grief and sorrow” as the author of the poem above writes, those are tempting thoughts! No one likes to suffer, no one likes to feel sad and if there is a way out of it, then why not take it?
Escape is not the path for the Christian to walk. We have been ordained to navigate a hard road in following Christ … there is simply nothing about this life that is going to be easy or soft for us. Our example is Christ and He endured tremendous suffering and experienced deep rivers of sorrow and grief.
Examine the Heart of Depression
For us to correct unhappy or sad feelings, we have to address the heart for that is where our feelings originate. Biblically speaking, most of the time our feelings and emotions are our responses to things that a sovereign God has brought into our lives.
Things like job loss and other means of financial reversal, children rebelliously throwing away all the truth their parents have poured into them, and husbands who sin against their wives are met with sorrow, fear, and grief. We also emotionally respond to employers and bosses who treat us unkindly, and politicians and other government agencies who make decisions we do not agree with and create policies that negatively affect us. All of these situations strike a negative chord within us and we find ourselves angry, frustrated, and even bitter.
Most of us would much rather blame how we are feeling on the other person or people involved, or say that the circumstance is the reason we are feeling sad, or angry or even depressed. Examining the heart helps us understand the thoughts, beliefs, and desires that lead us to feel the way we feel. It is the place to find the answer to why we feel like we do.
A Biblical Corrective for Depression
Upon self-examination the activities of the inner (wo)man are often revealed to be selfish, bitter, and ungodly in other ways. Once we recognize these heart attitudes we can make the biblical corrections necessary. We can compare those thoughts, beliefs, and desires against the truth of Scripture and see if they measure up to God’s unchangeable Word. So many of our heart-level responses are idolatrous and when we realize that is when we are able to rid ourselves of them and return to worshiping God alone.
The person who wrote the above poem had it right, she turned to the Lord not a pill bottle. Mining the gold from the Word of God will bring us up from the darkness and gloom and find our way into His glorious joy and rest once again.
Are you struggling with depression or anxiety this December? Please download this assignment to help you move see.
Counseling: Feeling anxious, angry, or depressed? Have marriage troubles? Please contact Biblical Counseling Center and schedule an appointment (in person or by Skype) with one of our certified biblical counselors.