We are in a spiritual war and Satan seeks to steal the truth, kill any hope or joy, and destroy our souls. The battlefield for all this is our mind. From both my psychiatric and personal experience, I’ll share common battle hazards posed by our uncomfortable feelings, such as depression, anxiety, anger, and loneliness, to name just a few.
- Emotions distort our view of God, life, and ourselves. We even have sayings revealing this concept: we see red with anger, green with envy, and love is blind. Hospitals don’t let doctors operate on their own kids because their emotions would interfere with their ability to accurately and quickly assess if something goes wrong. The role of court is to figure out what happened, to find the truth. But we remove emotion by picking a judge and jury that are not related to the defendant or victim, because they would be emotionally biased and have trouble seeing the truth. Satan, the great deceiver, pricks our emotions because distortion is his primary weapon to make his path for our life seem more attractive than God’s.
- Feelings are not reality. You feel like you can’t get up in the morning, are all alone, are worthless, you don’t belong, and peace is impossible to find. But God promises and delivers a different reality: you can get out of bed and after a shower are ready to go; you can do all things through Christ; Christ will never leave you; you have extreme value to God, He loves you and sent Jesus to die for you; He offers a peace that passes all understanding if you look in the right places; and you belong to Him like the prodigal son always belongs to his Father.
- Our emotions are a great warning system, but a terrible decision making system. When we are walking in the woods and see a tiger, we should be afraid, worried, sad, and overwhelmed. Our uncomfortable feelings are the warning system God built into us letting us know something is not right, potential danger is near, or we aren’t seeing things accurately. Unfortunately, in those situations, we have an urgent need to make an immediate decision when uncomfortable feelings are intense, to get rid of that emotion. But that is how knee-jerk impulsive and usually very me-centered and self-destructive decisions are made. Instead, we need to exercise patience and self-control to see what the Holy Spirit, Bible, and the facts of the situation reveal as more healthy decision options for the situation. Allowing our uncomfortable feelings be our decision-makers often leads to ineffective and harmful decisions, and often, sin.
- Strong and uncomfortable emotions prompt us to play fortune-teller, distorting our view of what’s to come and setting premature finish lines. Meaning we become impatient and don’t see the bigger picture or the longer timeline God has for us while making the future seem sad and negative. We often negatively judge a situation too early, leaving at intermission, thinking we lost or failed instead of waiting to see God’s great comeback play out. An example is not having a date for the dance and believing you are ugly, will never be married, and never have happiness. Or if a potential employer doesn’t call back by Friday, you are unqualified, will never get a good job, be poor, and never be happy. Or if your medical test result comes back as cancer, you will suffer and die a lonely premature and tortuous death. We can be very imaginative, and our sinful nature and Satan conspire to use that imagination to jump to the worst possible outcome when we let our emotions control our view of reality.
- We have many wants in life, but few needs. Often times the line between a want and need gets blurred. Wants are fine and God desires for us to want certain things in life. We get into trouble when wanting something crosses the line to needing something. Needing means we are dependent on ‘it’ for certain outcomes to occur, and if ‘it’ isn’t present, then everything else falls apart or can’t happen. For example, I want my children to be happy and do well in life, but I don’t need ‘it’ to be happy and to be productive in treating patients or ministering to others. I want a happy marriage, but God promises I don’t need ‘it’ to have peace, joy, and to be a high functioning bright light to my children and those around me. I want to be physically healthy, but I am not dependent on ‘it’ to be excited for the opportunities God has for me today. You can substitute anything for ‘it’ except God, food, and oxygen. Those are the only absolute needs we have.
- Not many like to hear this, but Entitlement dangerously sneaks in to our thinking, mindset, and attitude. An underlying reason for our ongoing depression, anger, worry, and other uncomfortable feelings is the belief that I don’t deserve this situation or these problems in my life shouldn’t be happening to me. Inherent in that mindset is thinking God is making a mistake and I know what I need more than God knows. We believe we deserve happiness, health, people to like us, financial stability, companionship, minimal adversity, success in most endeavors, etc. In actuality, the wages of sin is death. Everything we have is grace. But instead of gratitude and contentment, our flesh isn’t satisfied and we want more. God doesn’t make mistakes and has a reason for the circumstances in our lives, so hang in there and follow Him. He will lead you to peace and out of the prison your emotions have locked you in.
- As a result of the hazards above, the option of Suicide is contemplated. No matter how long you’ve suffered or how dark and unending depression can seem, it really is a temporary problem. But suicide is a permanent solution for this temporary problem. When a person feels suicidal, they are communicating they want the pain to end, but see no hope for that in the way they’re living life now. I agree, but instead of choosing suicide, more options are available for living life differently. Let’s try a different option and embrace a different way to think and live, bringing in God’s love through Christ and His instructions in the Bible to heal the mind and soul and end this distressing pain. If you are having trouble accessing a different way of living, please call 911 for emergent and immediate help or call our Lighthouse Helpline 844-Life-Change (844-543-3242) so we can find the best place to help you start living life differently.
Hope in the Face of Depression
God, through the Holy Spirit living in us as believers in Christ, promises to guide us through and help us understand His word, and we read many priceless passages in Scripture which teach us how to battle the dangers of depression.
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”
- Luke 15:11-32 The story of the prodigal son reminds us how God wants nothing more than for us to be saved and to trust Him as a loving father.
- Matthew 10:29- 31“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
- Deuteronomy 31:8 8“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
- John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
- Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”