Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on “Issues in the Church” that either aren’t talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a biblical worldview with lots of practical gospel-application.
- Read the rest of the series here.
Two of the biggest struggles in my Christian life have been discouragement and depression. These two struggles have been nipping at my heels since I was a teenager and at times continue to raise their ugly head. While I’ve continued to preach the Gospel to myself and appropriate my identity in Christ, there are still times where I fight discouragement and depression. This is not a new fight, but rather an old one, an issue the biblical writers knew well and often addressed. For instance, we see King David in the Psalms being downcast; followed by expressing exuberant praise to his great God and King Yahweh.
Here are four things I do to do battle against discouragement and depression:
First, fight depression and discouragement with the Gospel. The Gospel is not only the power of God but the very fuel by which Christians can face life’s challenges. I’ve found spending significant time being quiet in prayer with God, preaching the truth about the person and work of Christ to myself to be very helpful to address this challenge in my own life.
I have also found it helpful to note how He continues to move in my life to grow me into the image of Jesus. In a sense, battling discouragement and depression with the Gospel is another way of applying the reality of who I am in Christ. While I realize some people do seriously struggle with depression and discouragement (If that is you I encourage you to seek professional Christian counseling) what has helped me more than anything else is regular Scripture reading, prayer, and preaching the Gospel to myself.
Second, realize you don’t fight depression and discouragement alone. The Bible resoundingly teaches that in the abundance of counselors there is wisdom (Proverbs 11:4). Don’t fake your Christianity acting like everything is okay when it isn’t. Be real about where you are. For most of us, that will mean being honest with our close Christian friends about what is going on and allowing them to minister to us.
The more you realize that you are not in the Christian life alone and that we desperately need each other; the better. The Christian life is meant to be lived in community with God’s people. Having godly friends in my local church to pray for and encourage me has helped me a lot in my fight against discouragement and depression.
Third, realize that you need to reorient your perspective towards God. As I’ve been doing what I’ve mentioned above I’ve been finding that my perspective has been changing.
For example, I’m often guilty of focusing too much on my own problems and not looking enough to Jesus. Instead, I’m slowly (at times painfully slow) learning to continue to look to Jesus. When I focus too much on my problems, though, my problems are what is in my view instead of God.
I encourage you if struggle in this way to find a godly friend and have them walk with you through the issues you are facing with a view to encouraging and helping you to reorient your perspective towards God. One of my mentors in high school once said that the Christian life is all about your perspective. To the mature Christian that perspective is having a Godward disposition in order to deal with the challenges and difficulties life throws at us.
To do this, I’ve found it helpful to think and meditate on the finished work of Jesus. As I continue to do this, Philippians 4:6-8 is a passage I’ve found to be particularly helpful to meditate and reflect long and hard on. Doing this continues to help renew my mind and thus change my outlook bit by bit.
Finally, battling depression and discouragement is spiritual warfare. Some of you struggle with depression and discouragement because a battle is being waged requiring you to take up the full armor of God. Rather than succumbing to the lies of Satan, you need to stand firm in the grace of God and take hold of the “nowness” of the Gospel that is your identity as adopted sons and daughters of God.
Battling depression and discouragement is hard, but preaching the Gospel, applying the truth of who you are in Christ, living in the community, as well as knowing when and how you get discouraged are keys in the fight against discouragement and depression.
Whether you struggle with discouragement or depression just a little bit or a lot, please don’t suffer in silence. There is hope and healing in Jesus, a Redeemer who is not far from you but near to you. Know that God loves you, sent His Son Jesus Christ to die, rise, ascend, and to serve as our High Priest and Intercessor.
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit has called you to the community of saints to hear His Word, to call on His name and to grow in His grace. Grow deep and wide in the Gospel by standing firm, not being afraid to be real and honest about your struggles. Moreover, always have a view to lean on your brother and sisters in Christ in a time of need so that together we may show the world His unfailing and unchanging love that flows to God’s people from the throne of His grace.