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WALKING FROM DARKNESS INTO THE DAWN
Do you feel hopeless and helpless, exhausted and empty?
Does darkness cloud your world and sadness press heavily on your heart?
If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people today suffer debilitating depression and need help and hope. Depression is possibly responsible for more pain and distress than any other affliction of mankind. It is difficult to define depression, describe its symptoms, or treat it. The dictionary defines depression as an emotional condition, either neurotic or psychotic, characterized by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, gloominess, dejection, sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and inactivity. Both Christians and non-Christians can suffer depression.
Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma) are more likely to develop depression. Depression can, in turn, lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation and depression itself.
God desires to give you hope as you face life challenges, problems and difficult trials. The Women of Faith resources lift the shroud of despair to reveal both the clinical and the spiritual nature of depression. Discover the various types of depression, its common symptoms and causes, and how God can use it to draw you closer to Him. Learn practical steps to manage depression and how you can walk from darkness into the dawn with hope.
Depression is possibly responsible for more pain and distress than any other affliction of mankind.
Both Christians and non-Christians can suffer depression. Depression is possibly responsible for more pain and distress than any other affliction of mankind. It is difficult to define depression, describe its symptoms, or treat it.
The dictionary defines depression as an emotional condition, either neurotic or psychotic, characterized by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, gloominess, dejection, sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and inactivity.
Depression often times creates a negative self-image, accompanied by feelings of guilt, shame, and self criticism. Neurotic depression can be linked to wrong conduct or behavior and wrong reactions to such conduct.
The pressures and stresses of life often weigh us down. When our hearts are heavy and our heads are low, the clouds of depression seem to block out any ray of hope. But even in our depression, God walks with us, carries our burdens, and shines the light of His Word on our despair.
“The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us.”
Do You Look at Life through a "Dark or Cloudy Filter"? Those who struggle in the darkness of depression have difficulty seeing the good in their circumstances and especially in themselves. They look at life through a “dark filter.” The photographer who uses a black lens can take a picture during the daytime and the final photograph will appear to be a night scene.
Depressed people see life through a black filter, feeling hatred toward themselves, helpless about their situations and hopeless over their future. If you’re walking in the darkness of depression, you need to see the light of the Lord and know that He cares.
Does getting out of bed seem to be harder each day?
Is visiting with friends a challenge?
No matter how much you try, do you feel “stuck”?
You’re not alone.
Millions of people suffer from depression, including Christians. Feeling weighed down by stress is normal, but God designed your heart to rebound from such stress. Sometimes, though, you’re pressed down for so long that your heart becomes depressed, unable to bounce back without intervention. At this point, you need to seek help from friends, Christian counselors and you may need to use medication.
The best help, however, is from the One who knows your pain, cares deeply for you, and is able to heal. His help is always free and always available. The Bible has many examples of God’s people who were depressed. You can follow their example by crying out to God, by remembering His faithfulness, and by putting your hope in Him. In your darkest hour, He won’t abandon you. He’s beside you, even when you can’t feel Him.
Ask God to remind you of His presence when the loneliness seems unbearable. He will reassure you − maybe through His Word or maybe through a friend.
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Whatever you’re facing, your life matters, and God wants you to live in victory. Today is a great day to begin.
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What Is Depression?
- “Depression” is the psychological term that pertains to the mental, emotional, and behavioral characteristics of a depressed person. For example, those engulfed in the dark waves of depression feel desperately alone and often blame God for their plight...
“You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.”
- Depression is a psychological state that exists when the heart is pressed down and unable to experience joy. Those suffering with depression feel trapped underneath a dark, heavy blanket of sadness, grief, and hopelessness...
“Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night.”
- Depression is a psychological condition that impacts the whole person: body (the physical), soul (the mind, will, and emotions), and spirit (the source of our deepest inner needs for love, significance, and security ... and the need for God Himself). Many who are depressed feel as though this verse describes them ...
“All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.”
- Depression is an umbrella term that covers dark feelings ranging from “down-in-the-dumps” disappointment to utter desolation. No matter the degree of darkness, the Lord wants us to rely on Him to provide light. ...
“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
Is Depression the Result of Sin?
Depression is not a result of sin when ...
- Your heart grieves over normal losses. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4).
- Your body experiences natural deterioration due to the passing of years.
- Your body chemistry can change and become compromised. (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Depression can be a result of sin when...
- You experience the consequences of your sin and don’t attempt to change.
- You don’t take the necessary steps for healing.
- You hold on to self-pity, anger, and bitterness when you have been wronged instead of choosing to forgive. (James 4:17).
- You use your depression to manipulate others.
- You continually choose to blame God and others for your unhappiness.
- You choose to let others control you instead of choosing to obey Christ and allow Him to be in control of you.
- You are willfully choosing to maintain a sinful life.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
(2 Corinthians 7:10)
Physical Contributors to Depression
- Hormonal imbalance
- Medications and drugs
- Chronic illnesses
- Melancholy temperament
- Improper food, rest, exercise
- Genetic vulnerability
Emotional Contributors of Depression
- Unresolved anger
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Ephesians 4:31).
2. Suppressed fear
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)
3. Internalized stress
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
(1 Peter 5:7).
Spiritual Sources of Depression?
- Spiritual Warfare
“He [God]reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light” (Job 12:22).
2. Conviction of Sin
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”
Learn to Conquer Depression
C - Confront all the losses in your life. Allow yourself to grieve and to be healed. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
O - Offer your heart to Christ and give Him control. Confess your sins, and He will cleanse you of sin. (1 John 1:8–9)
N - Nurture the thoughts of God’s love for you. Notice: His love will not end. (Jeremiah 31:3)
Q - Quit all negative thinking. Replace all negative self-talk by focusing on the positive. (Philippians 4:8)
U - Understand God’s purpose for allowing your personal pain. God promises to use your heartaches for your ultimate good.
E - Exchange your hurt for thanksgiving. Choose to give thanks even when you don’t feel thankful. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
R - Remember God’s sovereignty over your life. He promises hope for your future. (Psalm 71:5)
"Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God."
Dos and Don’ts for Family and Friends
Don’t say: “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
Do Say: “I care about what you are feeling.” (Proverbs 20:5)
Don’t say: “You must eat! Think of all the starving children in the world.”
Do Say: “Even if we’re not hungry, we need to eat. Cars need gas for energy—we need food for energy.” (1 Corinthians 6:13)
Don’t say: “You need to quit taking that medicine.”
Do Say: “Not all medicines work the same for everyone. I’ll go with you to get a thorough medical evaluation so that the doctor can make sure the medicine is working for you.” (Proverbs 15:22)
Don’t say: “You just need to pray more.”
Do Say: “I’m praying for you, and I’m going to keep praying.” (1 Samuel 12:23)
Don’t say: “You just need to read the Bible more!”
Do Say: “There are several passages in the Bible that have given me much hope, and I’ve written them out for you. May I share them with you?” (Psalm 107:19–20)
Don’t say: “You need to get involved in a church.”
Do Say: “I’m involved in a church where I’ve been learning how meaningful life can be. I would love for you to come with me next Sunday, and afterward we can have lunch together.” (Hebrews 10:25)
Don’t say: “Snap out of it! Get over it!”
Do Say: “I’m going to stick with you, and we’ll get through this together.” (Proverbs 18:24)“
"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
How You Can Help
Learn all you can about depression—Read books, watch videos, attend seminars and visit websites, such as the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov). Read the complete Keys For Living Book on Depression.
"Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge."
- If suicide is a concern, ask—“Are you thinking about hurting yourself or taking your life?” They may get mad, but it’s better to have a mad friend than a dead friend. (Proverbs 18:21)
- Take all threats of suicide seriously.(Proverbs 18:4)
- Be an accountability partner.(Ecclesiastes 4:9)
- Initiate regular dialogue—Frequent phone calls, intentional contact. (Proverbs 16:21)
- Listen and hear their pain.(James 1:19)
- Talk about depression—Talking helps remove the stigma of depression. (Proverbs 25:11)
- Find a support group.(Ecclesiastes 4:9–10)
- Verbally encourage them.(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Realize the power of touch.(1 Peter 5:14)
- Play inspirational praise musicto lift their spirits. (Ephesians 5:19)
- Bring laughter into their lives—Funny cards, videos, movies, and people. (Proverbs 17:22)
- Provide “nutritional therapy”—For example, B vitamins (including folic acid), Vitamins C and E, calcium, and magnesium are helpful for combating depression. Ezekiel 47:12)
- Help them set small,daily goalsthat require minimum effort—Check on their progress regularly. (Proverbs 13:4)
- Enlist help from other family and friends—Be specific about your concerns. (Galatians 6:2)
Key Verse to Learn
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Key Passage to Read
1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
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