Posted on September 11th, 2014
Without the hope of Jesus, we would have every reason to be depressed. The world that we are living in can often be a very ugly place. People die and people kill. People betray and cause pain. People fall in and then out of love. Families break apart, jobs are lost, and one can feel a deep sense of lacking. All the while feelings of regret, guilt, shame, and failure are often felt in our personal lives and experiences. Depressed yet?
This is our human reality. In fact, by the time we are 20-years-old, we have lived through most, if not all, of these depressing experiences. It is no wonder that this reality, coupled with a family history or genetic predisposition to major depression, often results in a legitimate psychological diagnosis of clinical depression.
But though we live in a depressing world, depression does not have to be our portion. In other words, a depressing world does not need to inevitably lead to a depressed person. And when it does (because it can sometimes), it doesn"t need to end there.
In times of depression, the most important thing to realize is that Jesus is our hope. As long as our God is still living, loving, and moving (which he most certainly is), we can trust that things will get better. We can trust that God"s grace will carry us and that we will find strength we never knew we had. (Have you ever had a moment where you looked back on a situation and wondered how on EARTH you got through it? Yea. That was God"s strength.) As long as God is still God, we can trust that he is working things out for our good.
The second most important thing to realize is that depression is usually the result of negative, unhelpful ways of thinking. Unhelpful ways of thinking lead to unhelpful behaviors, unhelpful bodily responses, and indeed unhelpful emotions (e.g. depression, hopelessness, apathy, etc.). When feeling depressed, it"s important to identify and challenge negative, unhelpful ways of viewing God (i.e. "God doesn"t care about me," "God has forgotten me"), people (i.e. "Nobody likes me"), and yourself ("I"m unlovable," "I"m a failure" "I will always be alone"). And if you find you are having trouble identifying and challenging these kinds of thoughts by yourself, it"s usually a good idea to get the help and support of a counselor or therapist. A good counselor or therapist will help you tease out your patterns of thinking, many of them which are rooted in childhood experiences, and challenge the ones that are robbing you of your joy and peace.
While the world can be a depressing place at times, depression does not have to have you. Pursue joy. It"s your God-given right.
1. What does hope mean to you? Do you allow yourself to hope?
2. What do you currently do when you begin to feel hopeless? Where do you turn? Does it work?
3. How would you characterize your thoughts? Are they typically positive or negative? Are they flexible or rigid? Are they gracious or self-deprecating?
4. How do you typically view God? How do you typically view yourself?
Scriptural References & Resources
1. Romans 8:28
2. Romans 15:13