April 2

“They looked… and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” Exodus 16:10

Get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than at the leaden gray in the middle.

Do not yield to discouragement no matter how sorely pressed or beset you may be. A discouraged soul is helpless. He can neither resist the wiles of the enemy himself, while in this state, nor can he prevail in prayer for others.

Flee from every symptom of this deadly foe as you would flee from a viper. And be not slow in turning your back on it, unless you want to bite the dust in bitter defeat.

Search out God’s promises and say aloud of each one: “This promise is mine.” If you still experience a feeling of doubt and discouragement, pour out your heart to God and ask Him to rebuke the adversary who is so mercilessly nagging you.

The very instant you whole-heartedly turn away from every symptom of distrust and discouragement, the blessed Holy Spirit will quicken your faith and inbreathe Divine strength into your soul.

At first you may not be conscious of this, still as you resolutely and uncompromisingly “snub” every tendency toward doubt and depression that assails you, you will soon be made aware that the powers of darkness are falling back.

Oh, if our eyes could only behold the solid phalanx of strength, of power, that is ever behind every turning away from the hosts of darkness, God-ward, what scant heed would be given to the effort of the wily foe to distress, depress, discourage us!

All the marvelous attributes of the Godhead are on the side of the weakest believer, who in the name of Christ, and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance. (Streams in the Desert)

Depression emerges from somewhere down deep that is hard to define and even harder to resolve. It’s a feeling that spreads slowly like a sunset that begins with changes in light and ends in the absence of any. We have all felt its effect to one degree or another, but for those engulfed by its shadow, despair is a weight that drags toward an unseen bottom—pain that pummels like a subterranean river hollowing out solid rock along its course.

So commonplace is it these days that melancholy may overtake love as the most common of all human emotion; yet, it is such a complex issue that entire professions and elaborate institutions have been created to study and treat it. Christians are not immune; depression is a larger problem among Christians than the Church lets on. “To be in a state of depression…. is to be unable to occupy yourself with anything much except your state of depression. Even the most marvelous thing is like music to the deaf. Even the greatest thing is like a shower of stars to the blind. You do not raise either your heart or your eyes to the heights, because to do so only reminds you that you are yourself in the depths. Even if, like the Psalmist, you are inclined to cry out ‘O Lord,’ it is a cry like Jonah’s from the belly of a whale” (Buechner).

Depression is typically defined as a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, and is usually accompanied by feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and lack of energy. It acts like culture shock in that it may best be understood as distance between expectation and reality; the wider the gap, the more intense will be our battle with despair. Believers are not exempt from false views of reality and unrealistic expectations of themselves and others; in fact, the Church fosters just such a dichotomy when we make it unacceptable to admit our struggles before the very ones most qualified to form our base of support. Acute misery is never resolved by blushing and turning away in embarrassment. “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” (Will Rogers). Those suffering from misery’s tightening grip feel like they are alone in the world, and that is exactly the reason they cannot climb out of the pit without someone ready to offer a hand up. As necessary as confession is to repentance, honesty is essential to recovery; acknowledge your struggle to someone you trust and admit your inability to resolve it alone. It is not a sin to be depressed, but it is a shame to keep it to yourself.

“Anyone who is among the living has hope.” (Ecclesiastes 9:4, NIV)

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