The Path from Depression to Gladness
Depression is reaching epidemic levels in the United States.
It affects young and old, as well as all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
According to Christianity Today, “Clinical depression’s prevalence is on the rise in the United States. At any given time, around 15 percent of American adults take antidepressants, and up to 25 percent will meet the criteria for a depression diagnosis at some point in their lifetime.”
Unfortunately, many people believe that depression doesn’t exist within the church, but this is untrue.
Those who know Jesus suffer from depression, too.
The difference then does not come down to treatment or medication, but rather the soul.
As Margaret Ashmore explains, “Medications can assuage and heal physical pain or stabilize a mind reeling from shock, but they cannot heal the soul from ‘wrong [that] seems oft so strong.’”
In other words, even if medication helps someone overcome their depression, it won’t make any difference if they haven’t healed their soul.
Ultimately, the goal is to walk the path from depression to gladness by leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus.
For today’s blog, we are using Depression: The Sun Always Rises by Margaret Ashmore and Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down by Edward T. Welch as guides for this pathway.
In the pit of depression, you must fight for gratitude. Gratitude makes a huge difference on our outlook.
We can’t necessarily change our circumstances, but we can change our viewpoint starting with gratitude.
Ashmore writes, “A grateful person knows that all of life is dependent on the grace of a benevolent God and his people who extend that benevolence on earth.”
When you start to spiral downwards, take a minute to remember the many things you have for which to be thankful.
However, our gratitude must go beyond our circumstances because those can change in an instant.
Therefore, focus your gratitude on the things that are everlasting and cannot and will not change, such as God’s unending love for us.
“All gratitude springs from the two words ‘but God.’ God mercifully called my name. He regenerated my dead estate to life by indwelling the formerly ‘untenanted chamber’ of my heart. I was on a trajectory of utter and eternal destruction – but God!” (Ashmore 14).
Focus on God’s Love
When you begin to focus on God’s love, it is easier to move from depression to gladness.
Ashmore explains, “Nothing can lift us with such surety from the abyss of depression as the double strand of God’s sovereignty entwined with his supreme love. The knowledge that he is in absolute control, ‘choreographing the molecular dance,’ and loves his children with an eternally secure love gives us two indispensable necessities: purpose and hope.”
Depression makes us feel hopeless and without purpose.
Christ’s love for us makes us feel just the opposite – hopeful and purposeful.
As Welch explains, “If you are God’s servant- and you are – and he asks you to do something, you have just been given a purpose for living […] To put your purpose for living in its broadest terms, your job is to glorify and enjoy God.”
Identify the Root Cause
There are many causes of depression, such as medical problems, chemical imbalances, and trauma.
However, we aren’t talking about those causes in today’s blog.
We want to go beyond these causes to the root cause of depression found in the soul.
We need to get to the heart of the matter.
Essentially, why you feel the way you do.
Welch suggests, “[Emotions] are usually provoked by some circumstances in your life, but they are your responses to those circumstances and your interpretations of them. In other words, they reveal you. […] When the people [wandering through the desert with Moses] were discontent and even angry, they were saying more about themselves than they were about the desert. The same is true for depression. The question is, what does depression say about your heart?”
For example, when you face an upsetting situation, you can choose to react in anger, or you can get to the root cause of your feelings.
Why are you feeling the way you do?
Could it be that you feel entitled or as if someone has infringed upon your rights?
If so, this is a heart issue you need to address.
You have a choice in how you respond to those feelings.
Meditate Upon God’s Word
Speaking of feelings…your feelings can mislead you.
As Welch puts it, “When there is a debate between what your feelings say and what Scripture says, Scripture wins.”
However, this type of thinking will not happen unless you spend your time reading the Bible and meditating on it.
This is important because “your thinking must be guided by Scripture […] Your current thinking pulls you toward hopelessness and despair” (Welch).
When we dwell in God’s Word, we are better able to hear his voice over all the other mind polluting thoughts.
Ashmore explains, “When we are close to God, when we are exposed to his Word, that sweet means of grace whereby he imparts his love and divine enabling and inward peace, what a strong tower his voice is over this world’s atmosphere charged with Satan’s deception!”
Do the Next Right Thing
Depression makes you feel stuck, but you need to move forward.
Sometimes this starts by simply doing the next right thing.
You may not be able to overcome depression in a day, but you can do the next right thing.
Here are some suggestions of things you can do to help you move along the pathway from depression to gladness:
- Spend time reading and meditating on your Bible and praying.
- Start attending a church and get involved.
- Talk to friends.
- Complete overdo projects.
- Listen to uplifting music.
Make Christ the Center of Your Life
Welch argues, “Depression often is the language of self-pity.”
If this is the case, it means there is a big possibility you may be self-centered instead of Christ-centered.
Depression makes us focus on ourselves and our problems.
Ashmore explains, “The more we focus on Christ instead of ourselves – his beauty, his grace, his mercy, and his indestructible love – the more we experience transformation.”
You’re Not Alone
While we’ve focused on the pathway from depression to gladness with a focal point on soul work, there are times when it is absolutely necessary to seek counseling and medical help.
South Bay Bible Church offers counseling and can help you find resources to help you battle depression.
You are not alone; God will never leave you or forsake you, and we are here to help.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
– Romans 5:1-5