Editors Note: This is a new series on sanctification designed to help our readers understand what sanctification is and how to grow in Christ.
- Mike Boling wrote the first post in the sanctification series looking at spiritual warfare and the armor of God.
- Dave wrote the second post on Jesus encounter with Jesus and how Christians are to use Scripture in the midst of temptation.
- Dr. Thaddeus Williams wrote the third post about how to kill sin.
- Chris Poblete wrote the fourth post about seven ways to wage war against sin.
Two of the biggest struggles in my Christian life have been discouragement and depression. Those two struggles have been nipping at my heels since I was a teenager and at times continue to raise their ugly heads against me. While in the past five or six years I’ve learned 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 three things I do to do battle against discouragement and depression:
First, fight depression and discouragement with the gospel. The gospel is the power of God and provides the fuel by which we go out and face our day with all of its challenges by the grace of God. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged or depressed I don’t run to my books. Conversely, I spend significant time being quiet in prayer with God preaching the truth about who He is, what He is like, and who Jesus is focusing on what He has accomplished for me in His death, burial and resurrection. I have also found it helpful to note how He continues to move in my life to grow me to the image of Jesus. In a sense, battling discouragement and depression with the gospel is just another way of applying the reality of who I am in Christ given that fundamental truth alone helps me to get to the bottom of the issue. 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 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 in our hearts and allowing them to minister to us. On multiple occasions I’ve had to call on close friends to listen, pray and encourage me. The more you realize that you are not in this Christian life alone and that we desperately need each other; the better. The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation but in community with God’s people. Living in community with God’s people and having godly friends to pray for and encourage me has been a huge blessing from God to help me do serious battle against discouragement and depression.
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 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 in the gospel, 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 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.