Today I want to talk about how you and I can try dealing with depression. Everywhere you look, it seems as if almost everyone is suffering from one form of depression or another. So what’s going on? Today, I will look at some of the causes of depression. How we can recognize that we are slipping into a feeling of depression. Some things we can try when we are dealing with depression. Finally what we can do to help when someone we know is dealing with depression.
What causes us to slip into depression? There is no single or simple answer to that question, in fact there are many causes of depression. Any number of life events, and life situations can cause us to become depressed. We might feel isolated, completely alone, as if we are on an island by ourselves. When we are isolated from others, it is very easy for that to become a feeling of loneliness, which in turn causes us to feel depressed.
Some of us feel as if our lives are spiraling out of control. Our jobs are going nowhere; our incomes are not enough to keep up with our expenses. We feel like we have reached the end of line and there is nowhere to turn. Unable to see a future we begin to feel depressed.
Many of us have watched as our families fell apart. Long time relationships have ended, leaving us with a feeling of failure, a feeling that we are unloved. We have a gaping hole inside and we cannot find a way to fill that hole. We begin to wander as if in a daze and that wandering leads us to a deep depression.
How can we recognize that we have slipped into a feeling of depression that is serious and not just a temporary sad feeling? We are tired all of the time. We want to sleep all of the time. We feel like there is a wall of darkness around us, and we can feel despair deep inside our soul. We just don’t know what to do anymore. We wonder if we can handle things on our own.
The words in Psalm 143 verses 3 and 4 capture that feeling perfectly, “For the enemy has persecuted my soul and has crushed my life to the ground. He has made me dwell in dark places like those who have been long dead.” “Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me. My heart is appalled within me.” We feel terrible, we feel terrified. We do not know what is happening in our lives. One thing we must try to do is keep the Lord’s presence strong in our life, if He is not there, ask Him in. Once He is inside, once we have established that relationship we must try to keep Him there all of the time.
Even when the Lord is within us, sometimes it is still difficult fighting our feelings of depression and if we find we cannot overcome those feelings, we need to understand that it is okay to seek professional help. I know in my own life, I often hesitate to ask for help, because I fear what others will think of me. I am afraid that they might think I am weak. In my mind, I believe that as a man, I am supposed to be able to fix things, including myself. I worry that if I admit I cannot fix myself then others might think I am not much of a man.
It is okay to ask someone to help us, to reach out and ask God to lead us to somebody who can help. There are those who know what to do and how to help us deal with our situations. They can help us control our emotions. We must be willing to reach out to them. We all have times when we need help. We must reach out and get help from somebody qualified, someone who can help us come out of our depression.
When we come out of our depression, we often find that good can actually come from our experience. Now I have to admit, when I am in the midst of feeling depressed, my first reaction when I hear that good can come out of what I am going through, my initial response is along the lines of “Oh please, I’m depressed. I am feeling completely devastated. And you think some good is going to come out of it?” As I look back, I can say with certainty that yes indeed, good can come from experience. The primary good that came was an increased self-awareness and that is always good.
We tend to believe that when life is going really well for us; we think that we are the reason, and that life revolves around and is all about us. We may start to take the good times and our blessings for granted. Thinking that we are all we need is really a sign of weakness and when we are weak, when things begin to fall apart, we are shocked and uncertain of how to proceed. Our weakness shows and that is a perfect time for us to ask God to come into our lives.
It is easier during the weak times for God to come into our life because we are not all caught up in that delusion of self-perfection. There are cracks in that wall of ‘we have done it all ourselves’ that we have constructed around ourselves. God can help fill, or spackle over those cracks. His role in our lives is clearly spelled out by Paul in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 verse 9 “He has said to me, my grace is sufficient for you. Power is perfected in weakness.”
Those words reflect how much power Paul was able to derive from the grace he had once he brought Jesus into his life.
The dramatic conversion of Paul is one of those basic historical events that actually changed the world. No matter what Paul encountered. because he had established that one on one relationship with Jesus, he never wavered, and he never surrendered. When we establish that same type of relationship with Jesus, we will be able to stand tall, to endure, and to overcome any and all of our human weaknesses.
We must allow the power of God to come in, show us the way, and give us that guiding light. Once we are shining with the light and love of Jesus then we will be in position to help another who is fighting depression. I have seen this occur, people will come up to me and say, “You know, a friend of mine is just really, really depressed. I do not know what to do. How can I help them?”
So how can we help somebody else who is fighting depression, especially if we are not trained professionals? The first thing to do is identify with them, empathize with them, and be willing to listen to them. Show them the loving care that Christ would have shown.
The words in Romans Chapter 12 verse 15 instruct us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
When one of our acquaintances is happy, we need to make sure we celebrate with them. Share in their joy. Then it says weep for those who weep. If somebody is sad, be there for him or her. Empathize with them and show them that you care. We need to reach out to them, offering a hand so they will know that they can turn to us during tough times. When we are trying to help, we have to remember not to lecture them. When we tell somebody, ‘hey, get over it!’ it only makes it worse. They know that we are not listening, that we are not paying attention.
Proverbs chapter 25 verse 20, says, “Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day or like vinegar on soda, is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.”
If somebody is in pain, if somebody is in anguish, if someone has a heavy heart, if somebody is alone and depressed, we have to be supportive. We don’t have to give them unsolicited advice, that is not being supportive. Be as positive as you can be without being phony.
Now, if they say, “I would like your advice” then it is okay to offer suggestions. However, if they say, “I want to tell you how I feel.” that does not mean they want us to give them advice. Just listen to them. Really, that goes for everybody. When a person comes and wants to vent their feelings, they really just want to talk. They want us just to listen. If they say, “Do you know how?” or “Have you heard?” or “Can you tell me?”, then we can and should offer to help them.
When we find someone hurting and are asked for help, one other thing we can and should do is simply pray with them. Read prayers with them. So much good comes from our just sitting down and praying with somebody. We do not have to preach to them, we simply have to be there extending our hand to them. Lives change dramatically when we are the Christian we are supposed to be.
We have to believe in our hearts that God has a greater plan for us. If we become depressed, reach out to somebody. Once we have overcome our depression, think of somebody else. Think of the example we can be for somebody else who is depressed. No matter how dark it gets, no matter how bad we feel, no matter how devastated we feel, remember God is always there for us.
Turn to Jesus. When we feel depressed, we must try to bring God’s strong presence into our life. Do not try to handle it with booze or drugs. Turn to God and let Him help us overcome the situation. He can lead us to someone who can help us out of the mire, the swamp in which we seem to be stuck.
Allow God to show the path that will help deal with the situation. Once we find ourselves out of our depression, look back, and remember the steps taken to get out of it. Most times, we will see that it was by the grace of God. If the one good thing that comes from our depression is, the realization that we have brought God more fully into our lives that is one amazing, good result.
Let God be your light. If you feel you are in a dark tunnel, let God be the light at the end of the tunnel. Not only is He the light at the end of the tunnel, but He is also the light illuminating the path to the end of the tunnel. Follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember. For everything, there is a season. For everything, there is a reason. Let God come into your life and show you the way out of any situation that you are in.
No matter the situation, if we are the ones feeling depressed or if it is someone we know, the reality is when we bring God into our life, things are going to turn out okay.
Try this simple prayer –“Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that you sent your Son, my Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ to live and walk among us and to die for us. I believe that you raised Him from the grave and that He sits at your right hand. Father, I ask that you send the Holy Spirit into my life whenever I begin to feel my emotions taking control of my life and when I feel depression taking over. Thank you – Amen.”
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