About three months ago my work related life was in total turmoil, again. I have lost count of the number of jobs I have quit because I see no hope and no future in it for me and I was getting ready to quit again.
After my wife speaking with me (she had spotted all the signs) I went online and searched for “symptoms of depression”. Apart from the desire to hurt myself or someone else, I checked all the boxes for what is termed “major” or “clinical” depression.
My doctor prescribed some medication and referred me to a psychiatric practitioner. At the time I was depressed about being depressed, if that makes sense. But now, looking back, I am glad I was depressed. My depression has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
With the reading I have done so far, it appears that the underlying causes of depression are varied and complex. Perhaps in my case it is true to say that, “hope deferred makes the heart sick”. I say this because I have never really felt a sense of fulfillment in my work, though I have glimpsed it on a couple of occasions.
Also, I found that scripture never uses the term “depression” but we do see many references to despair and hopelessness (sin’s misery?). For example, the curses for disobedience in the Book of Deuteronomy, a number of the Psalms and accounts like that of Jonah, sitting in the belly of a whale with seaweed wrapped around his head. If I was Jonah at that point, I think I would have been pretty depressed too.
As I began to meditate on the reasons why I was suffering from depression, it struck me that perhaps God wanted to bring something very deep-rooted in my life to the surface so that it could be recognised and dealt with. After a couple of weeks or so there were two things that came to mind; my failure to take God at His word and my failure to willingly cooperate with Him. For example, did I believe God had blessed me in the heavenly realm with every spiritual blessing in Christ or not? Was I able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me or not?
Seeing as I have devoted many years to teaching other people about these very things, it seemed God was pointing to the beam in my own eye and my hypocrisy. Not only had God put me in a position where I became aware of my true spiritual condition, He made it clear that I had to have victory in this area.
The Lord impressed upon me that He had brought me to this point on numerous occasions in the past and instead of fighting through to victory in the trial I had squirmed and wriggled out of it. So now, God had brought me to the point of one last chance. If I did not fight and overcome my depression on this occasion, it would overcome me and I would not recover from another defeat.
Anyone who professes Christ does not like to think that they are sinning in unbelief and disobedient, is not the Christian mission statement “trust and obey”? But that is exactly what I had been doing and now it had to stop. My depression was a powerful wake up call for me.
Now, as I look back on events for the purpose of writing this article, there are a number of things that I want to draw forth and make clear for the many members of the body that are battling depression.
Firstly, we need not be ashamed of admitting we need help. I went to the doctor and answered his questions with tears in my eyes as I spoke about events that had hurt me in the past. I spoke to my boss at work to explain why I was not functioning effectively, I spoke to one of my good friends about the fight I was having and most importantly I spoke with my wife and told her I wanted to fight this depression and that I wanted the victory, I HAD to have the victory, this was my fight against “Goliath” and so defeat was not an option.
Secondly, God uses depression to help us recognise our true spiritual condition and He uses depression to help us get right with Him and then have victory over our enemies. God does not ask us to fight and win unless He knows we can do it. It’s just like we read in the Old Testament, we go into the fight knowing (trusting God) that we will win. Repentance is the key to divine intervention.
Thirdly, as we take the fight to the enemy, God works to help us. If I made a list of all the “little” things that the Lord has done to help me as I moved forward I would have pages of stories to tell. On occasions it was just the fact that I made a decision to do something that was a catalyst for God to act on my behalf. How can we ignore such a gracious and merciful God and his great salvation?
The net result is this. Today, about ten weeks after starting this battle, I sit here writing as a man who is happier, more confident and more productive, not only in my job but also in some of the things that I believe God has called me to do.
I want to start drawing things to a close with this. About two weeks ago I had a dream where many “people” were trying to attack and harm me. In this dream, I kept thinking to myself, “these people are not real, they have no substance, they do not actually exist, I just believe they do”. So, still in my dream, I began saying to these “people”, “you are not real, I do not believe you exist!” As I spoke those words and believed them in my heart guess what happened? One by one they disappeared. If I doubted they came back, but if I believed what I said they went away. Then I woke and thought, “what was all that about”?
Into my mind popped this sentence, “casting down vain imaginations .... Taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ”.
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