the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The fact that we open ourselves up to depression due to stubbornness does not make dealing with an emotional slump somehow less challenging than overcoming other difficulties we bring upon ourselves. After all, there are many hardships we face because of (low grade) rebellion. The problem with depression is that it feeds upon itself and if we are not careful we will find ourselves rapidly spiraling into an emotional abyss.
It is interesting to note that the biblical texts that pertain to depression assume it is an act of our will that brings us out of an emotive quagmire. Last week I referenced 1 Peter 5:6-7 which says, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Granted, we are to live our lives in the resurrection power given by our lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20 and more ) but even then we are required to exercise our will toward godliness (1 Corinthians 9”24-27). We are called to humble ourselves – to consider our position before God in Christ and thank him in humility and meekness for his grace. We are required to cast all our cares upon him, letting him carry the load as we lovingly give thanks for his care. Moreover, the next two verses in the passage tell us to be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world (1 Peter 5:8-9). Again, these are commands not pious suggestions. Understand, the devil is an adversary who desires to destroy us. What better way to do so than to whisper discouraging words in our ear, encouraging us to look to our own devises rather than Jesus in the daily struggle of life. Unless we are vigilant we will succumb to his suggestions. Don't get me wrong, none of us can rightly say “the devil made me do it” (Flip Wilson notwithstanding). Nonetheless, Satan loves to encourage us in the ways we naturally want to go when they are routes leading away from the walk that Jesus walked. Thus we must resist him and remain steadfast in the faith and he will flee from us (James 4:7). We must recount the blessing of salvation in Jesus Christ, testifying to ourselves about the tremendous love Jesus has for us.
We should also think of others more highly than ourselves (Romans 12:3, Philippians 2:3) and recognize our brothers in the Lord often suffer the temptation to accept depression just as we do. We ought to pray for them, asking the Heavenly Father to encourage them in his love, to enable them to take their eyes off themselves and took to Jesus.
Depression can be a debilitating condition. It can render us useless to the work of the kingdom and cause us to be a poor witness to the world. Yet it is not inevitable. In Christ we can overcome. In his resurrection power we are able to walk in obedience and fruitfulness. If you suffer from depression I encourage you to take your eyes off yourself and look to the Lord Jesus.