The Holidays are a time when many people have a challenging time with depression. Whether from the reminder of a loss of a loved one at this time of year, a divorce, a broken heart, broken friendships and marriages on the verge of collapse, the Holidays are often tough for a wide variety of reasons for people.
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 at various inopportune times. 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.
In what remains in this article, we will consider some ways to face depression and discouragement during the holidays (and every day) by finding hope in Christ alone.
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.
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 biblical counseling) what has helped me more than anything else is regular Scripture reading, prayer, and preaching the gospel to myself.
Share with Other Brothers and Sisters in Christ About Your Struggle
Please 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). The more you realize that you are not alone in the Christian life 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.
One strategy for fighting anxiety and depression is to find trusted friends and pastors that you can open up too. In my own life, I have several close friends who I can either call or send a text message to about my day and my struggles with anxiety and depression when depression and discouragement creeps into my life. Then they encourage me and also ask great questions about what’s going on with me. We need to have friends who we can be honest and open with who we know will speak the truth in love to us.
As Christians, we are called to one another each other which isn’t easy as some people face intense periods of anxiety and depression. Wherever you are today, you have a great need of Christ. Christ desires more than ever to meet you right where you are for He cares for you. As Christians, we have One in Jesus who calls us His friend (John 15:15). He doesn’t leave us to ourselves; instead, He promises never to forsake us for He is our very present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1; Hebrews 13:5).
God with us and how He cares for His people helps me to face each day with the grace of God. Such biblical truth also helps me to realize that each day is new and each day has an end. And very slowly over a lot of years gone by the Lord continues to massage these truths deeper and deeper into my life. And the deeper they go, the more joy-inducing they are. There is so much joy to be had in the Lord, since, He loves His people so much.
Daily Scripture Reading
Another strategy for fighting anxiety and depression is to read and meditate on the Word of God regularly. In the Psalms, we frequently see David down in the dumps and then exulting in the Lord who alone is His rock and refuge (Psalm 18:2; 62:6; 71:3) and present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1). By reading the Scriptures, we come to see that many others in the Bible have faced issues with anxiety and depression such as David (2 Samuel 12:15-23; 18:33), Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Jonah (Jonah 4:3, 9), Job (Job 2:9; 3:11, 3:26; 10:1; 30:15-17), Moses (Exodus 32:32), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14, 18) to name a few.
Charles Spurgeon struggles with depression are well-known. He is rightly considered the Prince of Preachers. Often in addition to his struggles with depression, he faced gout which often kept him in bed many a day discouraged and doubting.
Maybe that’s where you are today. Perhaps you aren’t stuck in bed like Spurgeon, but you are feeling overwhelmed and crushed on every side. You may even wonder where the Lord is in the midst of all that’s going on in your life. What you need to understand is that the Lord has not abandoned or left you; instead, He is for and with you. After all, His promise in Hebrews 13:5 is never to leave you nor forsake you. The promises of God are tied to His holy unchanging character. God has fully disclosed Himself in the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why you and I need to be in the Scriptures for it’s there we daily learn about men and women who have faced the very problems that we have with the help of the LORD. Also, this is why we need the local church to get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ many of whom have faced issues we are going through ourselves right now with the help of the Lord.
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.
Counseling Fellow Strugglers
When counseling others going through their similar issues, I like to ask lots of questions and then sit back and let the person talk. After they are done, I will make a clarifying remark to make sure I’ve understood what they’ve said. I do this intentionally because I want to ensure I know what they are saying before I say anything. I will then proceed to ask some more questions if necessary and then offer Scriptural guidance, counseling, and comfort. You see by asking questions, listening, clarifying, asking more questions, I’ve provided an opportunity for the person to share openly, to explain what they’ve said so I don’t give bad counsel, and also to show them that I’ve listened well. Then I will proceed to speak into their life after I’ve understood their situation and not before.
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 in Jesus, the 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.
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.
As you see Jesus as your supreme treasure each moment of each day, you’ll begin to fight the fog of depression and discouragement. Instead of feeling all alone, you’ll start to see yourself as part of the family of God. You’ll also begin to learn that others are facing the same fight as you are in the Body of Christ. At the end of the day that should encourage you that you are not alone because others are in this same fight as you in the Body of Christ. We all need one another, but supremely we need to know that Jesus is all we need, and He is for us and to begin to walk alongside one another with the help of His grace.