Depression does weird things to the mind and to the body. For example, I’m the classic picture of a “Type A” personality. High energy, self-starter, workaholic (if I’m not careful). But I also fight depression. And when it starts its deadly, insidious invasion of my mind, suddenly everything changes. The energy goes away, replaced by lassitude. I can’t finish anything, because my ability to concentrate is gone. But worst of all, when I’m depressed I feel either guilty or worthless, or both.
In my years of counseling other depressed individuals, these men and women have displayed the same symptoms. In short, the average depressed person thinks, “I don’t feel like I’m worth much.” From that thought, it’s just a short hop to, “God couldn’t love someone as worthless as me.”
If you’ve read our book “Hope Again: A Lifetime Plan for Conquering Depression,” you know that I now have a plan that regularly defeats depression. Instead of letting it conquer me, I now conquer it! Instead of focusing on the negative emotions swirling about me, I choose to read, believe, and meditate on the promises in God’s word. Believe me, it works.
For example, if you don’t feel like you’re worth much, read this passage and think about what it means: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5, NIV84)
Two questions for you: First, when did God love you and make you alive with Christ? The answer is, when you were spiritually dead because of your “transgressions” – a fancy word meaning sins against God. In other words, at your worst, God loved you! That’s worth remembering when depression comes on.
Second, how have you been saved? By your righteous works? No! You have been saved by grace. That means you didn’t do ANYTHING to deserve salvation. God loves you and me because He decided to love us, not because of ANYTHING we had done to deserve it.
The bottom line is that no one on planet Earth is worthy of salvation. And yet, it is offered freely to each of us. Don’t listen to the lies of depression. Instead, focus on this passage, believe it, and thank God that in Christ, you are worth much because you are a child of God.
What do you do when you REALLY mess up life big time? If you’re like me, you’ve done it way more than one or two occasions. Sometimes, it happens in public and you feel as if a huge spotlight is focused on you, with everybody gaping. It’s one time you don’t want to be the center of attention!
I had just begun conducting Communion during a Sunday service and one of my deacons was helping me take off the sheet protecting the elements. Then it happened. In front of everyone, he grabbed the wrong sheet! Instead of the covering cloth, he got a firm grip on the sheet under the elements, and pulled it toward him. Cups, juice, plates and bread followed, spraying everywhere and dousing him thoroughly. Years later, we can now laugh about it, but it wasn’t a bit funny at the time.
If your life’s a big mess right now, you’re probably using one or more of these phrases. “I can’t believe I did this again!” “How am I going to face my family and friends?” “How will I ever straighten up this mess?” And worst of all: “I don’t see how God can love me.”
At your favorite grocery store, the announcement goes out over the loudspeaker: “Spill on Aisle 9!” Employees rush to aisle 9 with buckets and mops. Nearby onlookers peek around the corner of the aisle just to see how bad the spill is, and who did it.
But what if YOU are the spill? You need cleaning up and your life put back in order, and you know it’s beyond your power. That’s where God comes in. He sees every spill you have, major or minor, and He still loves you. His Spirit not only convicts you of your wrongdoing so you can make it right with God, He also guides you back into the correct path, where you can still live for Christ.
It’s okay to be embarrassed and feel guilty for what you’ve done. In fact you should feel both emotions. But you don’t need to stay stuck there. Confess your sin, turn away from it, and learn a lesson from the experience.
Spills happen, but God’s love is always there, ready to “clean up in aisle 9,” as well as every area of your life. Did you notice the word “always” in the last sentence? God promises that for you. Look at the verse below:
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23, NIV84)
This passage says in essence, “God’s great love and compassion never fail.” Both mean God will forever be there for you, cleaning up the spills and setting you on your feet again.
Spring, 1927 in New York. For the past several months, passers-by on Fifth avenue gawked at the huge building being constructed. The Sherry-Netherland Apartment Hotel, when finished, would be the tallest residential building every erected. At thirty-eight stories, it towered over other nearby structures.
One fateful night not long before Easter, the wooden scaffolding surrounding the top fifteen stories – put there to help with construction – caught fire. The blaze quickly became such a large conflagration that it could be seen from twenty miles away. The flames hungrily consumed the wood, then spilled over onto several adjacent buildings.
Firemen took their lives in their hands as they tried to fight the fire while dodging huge pieces of burning wood that would come crashing onto the pavement from hundreds of feet above. In reality, there was little they could do to contain the blaze. Their hoses sprayed water onto the hotel, but they could only reach to about the fourth story! The firemen had the weapons to battle a fire, but only if it was close to the ground. When the big test finally arrived, their weapons proved useless.
What about you? What weapons are in your arsenal that will help you battle the problems of life. And, are you ready for the big, scary fires threatening to burn everything you hold dear? How can you be sure you will be able to handle anything Satan throws at you?
Let’s change from fire to water for a moment. In the 7th chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells the story of two men. Both built houses, but one built on a foundation of sand, while the other constructed his on solid rock. Jesus concludes this story by saying:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24–27, NIV84)
Jesus tells us that the best –in fact, the only – way to victoriously combat life’s problems is to read, meditate on, memorize and BELIEVE the Bible, God’s word. Contained within its pages one finds the revealed Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. We learn about God’s love and His promises for us every day. This is our rock.
And what about the sand? Our emotions, the culture surrounding us, other people’s opinions – all of these can prove to be false or ineffective in grappling with life.
So, I ask you the question: Is your life built on sand or on the Rock of Ages? I encourage you to begin reading God’s word and putting a portion in your heart each day to meditate on all day long.
What will happen if you do this? Here is God’s answer and His promise:
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” (Proverbs 10:25, NIV84)
Whether floods or fires, your life can withstand any threat, as you keep your life and faith grounded in scripture, trusting in the promises of God.
Where have we been? If you’ve been following our blogs or other content on our website, you’ve probably noticed a sudden vacuum in content.
The main answer is: I’ve been fighting for my life! Since my last post, I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, had emergency quadruple heart bypass, nearly died with pulmonary embolisms, and had a lung transplant.
Now that I’m recuperating, Bruce and I are writing once again and hosting Conquering Depression seminars. We hope to intersect more with you here on our website, and we will continue to give you tools to help you overcome depression.