Hayden Planetarium, in New York City, some time ago, offered applications for those who desired to make the journey to another planet, when the opportunity would arise. 18,000 applicants applied and were subsequently interviewed by a panel of psychologists who measured their mental status for making such a trip. When asked why they desired to leave this planet and start a life somewhere else, the vast majority replied that they were totally discouraged with life on planet earth.
Discouragement is not a respecter of persons. Anyone who has lived any length of time, will have been subject to situational experiences that can impact life and devalue the very zest and joy for living. Broken relationships, failed dreams, betrayal, the loss of a loved one- all of these are but a few examples of circumstances that can rob us of enjoying life to it’s fullest.
Yet, I feel that more times than not,chronic discouragement is not caused by a singular event but is symptomatic of a much deeper wound that is rooted in unfulfilled expectations and hopelessness and a sensing that nobody understands my situation nor experienced my pain. In other words, I am the only one to have walked my walk. More than once in counseling sessions, I have been told that nobody understands.
We only have to examine the words of two great pillars of the faith to understand the error of such thought. John Calvin,a great theologian said,” In addition to the great troubles by which I am consumed, there is almost no day on which some new pain or anxiety afflicts me.” The great teacher Spurgeon said, “Depression creeps over my heart and dreadfully weakens me.” There is a cost involved concerning our walk of faith, and there are times when things don’t go as planned. But the Apostle Paul, in II. Timothy 1:7 says this. ” God has not given us the spirit of fear( the cousin of depression) but of love, power, and of a sound mind.” Let me make it very simple. Jesus did not die for you or me to live our lives in a perpetual state of depression. It is natural that depression can impact any of us emotionally through life’s events, but it should never be accepted as natural or a part of your experience with Jesus.
Today, I want to share practically and spiritually how depression can be effectively dealt with once and for all. Practically speaking, there are many scriptures that teach us about hope, encouragement, and trust but recently, one stood out in the midst of me feeling sorry for myself. I know that none of you reading this deal with such struggles, but for me ,I just felt all alone in my circumstances and it seemed that there was no one to understand. Then the Holy Spirit drew me to Hebrews 12:1-2. ” Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses to the life of faith surrounding us, let us lay aside any weight (depression, fear, anxiety) that slows us down. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” Suddenly, fond memories of those who have shaped my spiritual walk for almost 50 years, flooded my heart and spirit. Those guideposts who helped me to understand the Christian walk, seemed to appear before me, one by one, extorting me on to His higher calling for my life. I was both elated and guilty at the same time. So many have given me so much out of their richness of faith, and here I was forgetting all the relational miracles (witnesses) that Jesus had placed in my life. Suddenly, in the light of their examples of overcoming faith and endurance, my petty grievances faded away into a sea of thankfulness and love! Faith isn’t just a blind leap but a record of living testimonies beginning in scripture and impacting our lives today by His Living Witnesses, who have been through history, a living pledge to us that we can make it; men and women,who defied their culture to live Jesus Christ before a disbelieving world. And that is why their testimonies found in Hebrews chapter 11, have been labeled chapter wise, “The Christian Hall of Fame.”
Spiritually speaking, there is a place that the Holy Spirit wants to take you to. It is a place only seen by the Believer. It is a place only understood by those who know Him. The Psalmist said in Chapter 91:1-2 ” He who dwells in the “Secret Place” of the most Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. There, He is He is my refuge and and my fortress-my God and in Him, I will trust.” Now, here is an important key spiritually. Moses, part of that cloud of witnesses, in Hebrews 11:23-27 is described as seeing the King invisible or “seeing Him who is unseen.” How was that possible and how is it possible for us to hear His voice and perceive and see our Lord’s plan for us? Exodus 33 :7 tells us that Moses would leave the familiarity of the camp and pitch a tent away from the people to wait and hunger for God to speak in that “Secret Place.” He left all the distractions of life to go away to wait and seek the Lord. If we want more of Him, we must be willing to put down those distractions that rob us from intimacy with Him. I believe that depression takes over when we are like a hamster on the proverbial wheel- spinning in our circumstances and unable to take time for that Secret Place.
Hebrews 13:12-13 tells us, “so that Jesus might sanctify the people through His shed blood, suffered outside the gate, so therefore, let us go outside the camp and bear the disgrace He bore.” Simply, be willing to leave the familiar set of daily routines and seek Him in that Secret Place. In I. Corinthians 3:3, Paul rebuked the church for being like “mere men”-settling for status quo and spiritual mediocrity. Let us be willing to seek Him out and hunger for Him in that Secret Place where the King is made visible to all who seek Him. With that approach to life, there is no time left to become depressed.
Realizing the Living Testimonies who have given us spiritual life and seeking Him in that Secret Place-which is really a place of your choosing where His Presence is welcomed and unhindered, are two important keys that I have found to overcome those events in life that would curtail the every day joy that is mine in Jesus Christ.