The Silent Battle
In recent news, the topic of depression has come to the forefront of discussion in the tragic story of actor, Robin William’s death. My heart hurt when I heard that he often battled depression and ultimately made the decision to end his life. Deep depression is something you completely understand or can’t fathom at all. It is something most people who experience it keep to themselves. I know – I have often battled with depression at points in my life even that deep, dark depression. So, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on depression.
The Phlegmatic-Melancholy Spirit
I am one of those people who feel things very deeply, who is very tender-hearted. I have been known to be a ‘good listener’ and one who people have come to when they want to share their troubles. I strive to be one who is discreet, who will keep what is shared to me. What those who may share may not know, I can also tend to ‘take on‘ their troubles or grief. The phrase, ‘I feel your pain...’ is so very true to me. Years ago when a friend of mine was going through a very difficult time with her marriage and I heard her pain in the tone of her voice and words…I felt that pain. I cried for days. In that same sense, I feel very deeply in my own life – I experience deeply and seek deeply the expressions of love and understanding from others. There is a strong desire to love and to be loved.
Learning to Guard Your Heart and Mind
I had to learn over time how to guard my heart and mind. Our thought life can be pretty powerful. If we dwell on a thought or an idea it can gain in presence and in strength. If you think a negative thought about someone or a situation you can begin to ‘feed‘ or ‘feed into’ that thought until it grows into a perception, a point of view or outlook. When you allow this to happen, something negative can truly ‘become bigger than it truly is’. This can not only affect you, but also your view on people and circumstances.
Think on These Things…
The book of Philippians is a great study to understand how to deal with the difficulties in life. I am convinced that Paul was of a similar personaility type in that he held his relationships high in value. He deeply loved those to whom he ministered to and wished the very best for them. He strove to teach well and to encourage faithfulness. I would encourage you to read the whole of the book to fully understand the heart and principles of what Paul desired to impart.
Let’s take a walk through Philippians
To see how we can learn from this book – in the application of the topic of depression; whether it is your personal depression or someone else’s depression. Better understanding and empathy can help overcome depression. Note – clinical depression is very real. This is not to be a definitive approach to all forms of depression. When depression becomes overwhelming for you or for someone you know – seek help. Know this too, that even though someone may profess themselves to be a Christian – they too can experience depression. We have not all ‘attained’ the same and we do not all face the same trials in life. We do all ‘battle our flesh‘ and this may be one battle a Christian has to face. Therefore be compassionate when you discover someone may be depressed so that you may begin to be a help or to seek help.
Chapter 1: The greeting
‘Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’ (v. 2-6)
The first place we should always go is prayer. We should always submit every care and concern unto God – trusting in His love and confidence in His peace. Not only for yourself, but to give you confidence to encourage someone through times of depression.
Paul experienced extremely difficult circumstances – he was inprisoned for sharing the Gospel. While this deeply concerned those in the churches he ministered – he strove to encourage others seeing these events as opportunities. (v12) All the while there were those encouraged by Paul’s inprisonment using it as an opportunity to share the ‘Good News-Gospel’ – others to their own advantage – Paul encouraged the believers to conduct themselves well – as Christ would – to be united – to be unafraid of terrible circumstances. Because some times we do have to go through difficult times.(v. 27-30)
Chapter 2: The Compassionate Entreaty
‘If there be therefore any consolation in Christ if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind. Let nothing be done through strive or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus’
No man is an island. But those experiencing depression feel like they’re alone and that no one can understand. Perhaps they don’t even understand it themselves. Compassionate love toward others makes us aware of the downcast eyes, the slumped shoulders the slowed pace in walk or the lack of enthusiasm in daily life. When you become aware of your or someone else’s depression you can begin to act. First you pray, then you express your love, your willingness to ‘be there’ for someone. This may take time because of trust. But, patience and consideration give you a foothold into being able to assist or listen.
As Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to ‘work out your own salvation‘ or manifest the life Christ now has given you by making yourself available to minister to another. ‘For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world’. When you can manifest to another your willingness to help without judgment or rebuke, when you can demonstrate to another your trustworthiness in keeping that which they share with you – you can begin to be a light – demonstrate hope when someone feels complete hopelessness.
Chapter 3: Find Value
‘And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’. (v. 9 – 14)
Before knowing Christ, Paul was zealous in his work and was a scholar of the law. When Christ got a hold of him on the road to Damascus, Paul was a transformed man. He realized the futility in all he’d dedicated his life to. Paul realized that salvation was ‘being found in him’ – that righteousness came through Jesus Christ – imputed onto all sinners who would believe in Christ. Because of this understanding, Paul wanted to ‘know’ Christ more and more. All the while, he realized that those things he counted on – ‘righteous acts’ were not righteous at all and that there was nothing he did in his zealous efforts that gained him favor with God or made him right with God. In knowing that his salvation was totally dependent upon Christ, Paul desired to continue to ‘press toward the mark’. Forgetting those things which are behind – whether good or bad – but to continue to move forward. Application – realize your value – The high price Christ paid for salvation demonstrated how much value he placed on each individual person. You are precious to Christ. It is important not to dwell on problems, shortcomings or failures. What happened before happened – whether good or bad – you’ve got to press forward – do not dwell -learn. Imagine if Paul dwelt on those he’d persecuted – once he knew the truth of Christ. What Paul understood was the incredible depth of love Christ had for him all the while knowing everything about Paul – all of his actions and his thoughts. Paul understood he was accepted and forgiven by the one who loved him most. If Christ could so love and so forgive – how could we do any less – toward others and toward ourselves.
Chapter 4: How to Overcome
‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’
It may sound simplistic, but sometimes ultimate truths are. First we must pray – and have a frank discussion with God regarding our concerns. Pour out your heart to Him. Second we demonstrate and express love, third we find our value and fourth, count our blessings…name them one by one. Begin by acknowledging and seeing all of the wonderful blessings in your life – when you’re depressed you may not see them – they’re there – and it may take time to recall them. Write them down – visualize them and you will begin to ‘see‘ that there are more and more blessings in your life. This will lead to rejoicing in the Lord. Learn to squash thoughts of doubt and worry. Don’t let the seeds of these thoughts take root – seek God’s peace to take hold of your heart and mind – dwell on Him – not the circumstances. Take your blessings – add to them by listing those things that are true, honest, just…find examples of these things in the Bible – the truth of God’s love for you. Begin to practice memorizing verses that encourage you – to keep them in your heart and mind.
‘Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound.: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me…but my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’ (v. 11 – 13, 19-20)
First we pray, demonstrate your willingness to demonstrate love or to be loved, find your value in Christ, Overcome through Christ –
Have faith that through Christ you can make the journey out of depression. Demonstrate compassion toward those you know who may be experiencing depression and commit yourself to pray for them and to be available to them. If you find yourself or another in deep or clinical depression – seek help. Do you know Jesus Christ – have a faith in Him? If you don’t, than much of what I have shared may seem to not apply to you. I ask first, ‘to you, who is Jesus Christ?‘ Do you wish to know more about salvation and a relationship with Christ? If that is so, message me personally or comment and I will respond and share how you can personally know Christ as your Savior.