Cheerful thoughts on depression

It has been 2 months since I have posted here. Amazing. I have been busy and things are going well, there just hasn’t been time to blog.

Back on Sept 5 (just 2 posts ago) I mentioned a new book I had gotten, Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones. After that great first chapter, I had trouble finding time to get back to it. I spent my quiet times in September and October in a couple of books focused on Ephesians chapter 1 and 2 by Richard Phillips. I highly recommend them and can’t wait for the next 4 books to come out. Ephesians may be my favorite book of the Bible anyway, and these two volumes were so rich and convicting and encouraging.

When I finished them, I picked up Spiritual Depression for my morning quiet time. I have made it through 12 of the 21 chapters and can’t wait to turn around and read it again. But it has been rough in spots.

I would love to describe every single chapter to you, but I’ll start with chapter X – Where is Your Faith. This was the chapter I read last Thursday morning and it was full of wonderful and convicting words. Much of the book is spent showing the causes of spiritual depression and why a believer who seeks God and the truth should not fall prey to most of the causes.

This chapter starts with this statement about Christians who get into difficulty and are unhappy from time to time.

…what makes one a Christian is that one is given the gift of faith. We are given the gift of faith by God through the Holy Spirit and we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and that saves us; but that does not mean that we have fully understood the nature of faith. p135

The scripture he uses for this chapter is Luke 8:22-25 where Jesus fell asleep in the boat and a storm came up and the disciples panicked. Lloyd-Jones notes that Jesus rebuked them for being in such a state at all.

He rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror and alarm while He was with them in the boat. That is the first great lesson we have to apply to ourselves and to one another. It is very wrong for a Christian ever to be in such a condition. I do not care what the circumstances may be, the Christian should never be agitated, the Christian should never be beside himself like this, the Christian should never be at his wit’s end, the Christian should never be in a condition in which he has lost control of himself. p137.

What is so wrong about being in a state like this? “it implies a lack of trust and of confidence in Him.” p138.

He then spends some time talking about the trials that God allows to come to us. Forewarned is forearmed as he says. Then he reminds us that “faith is an activity, it is something that has to be exercised.” p143.

The first thing I must do when I find myself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow myself to be controlled by the situation. p143.

Then he says this “ Faith is a refusal to panic “. Do I believe this? Then he offers this definition. “Faith is unbelief kept quiet, kept down.” Which reminds me of the response, I believe, help thou my unbelief.

Having reminded yourself that you will not be controlled by these circumstances, you then must “remind yourself of what you believe and what you know.” p 144

He ends with a reminder that there is value in even the weakest or smallest faith. “Having been agitated and distressed and alarmed and exhausted, they went to Him. They still had some kind of feeling that He could do something about it” p146.

What makes this chapter so powerful for me is that after spending time in that chapter and pondering that Scripture and praying, confessing that I do panic and get distraught but that I do want to trust Him more…I then panicked and had an absolutely horrible day. As soon as I logged in and started working I got upset and frustrated and angry and it went on all day. I got frustrated with friends, my husband, my todo list (that I wrote, so I guess I was angry with me). At the end of the workday, looking at all the other things I needed to do I finally wept out loud for a few minutes. But God is so gracious.

First, He brought to mind my chapter from the morning and reminded me to pick myself up and get back in control. Time to talk to my self, not listen to my wailing panic. Then he brought the UPS man to my truck with a book I bought on a whim – I had a B&N coupon and another blogger raved about a book. I opened it up and looked at the first chapter to find the words from the blogger’s comments that had intrigued me about the book. And there they were:

One thing leads to another. The more you believe that God’s grace to you is overflowing, the more you’ll be convinced that you will always have everything you need. And the more certain you are that you’ll never lack, the more willing and able you’ll be to give of yourself and your resources when called for because you’ll be certain God will always replenish your supply. p20

The verse she bases that on is 2 Cor 9:8

God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

The book is The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer.

I had to face the fact that I didn’t trust God to get me through the day. I tried to do it in my own strength and my own way and when I felt thwarted or put-upon or drained I lashed out. I was also harboring a bad attitude about work and some personal issues that needed some serious correction. Quite unChristian of me.

Friday morning my prayer was to not have another day like Thursday. Then, I wrote out some Bible verses and kept them on my desk in plain view all day. I read them many times cementing for myself the truth that I must live by each day. Then this blog post crossed my reader. And a devotion I subscribe to by email based on Matthew Henry’s writings sent me an email Friday morning to thank God for the powerful influences of divine grace. He showered me with reminders of His truth so I was surrounded and enabled. Friday was such a better day.

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