By Nancy Virden (c)2021
How are we to know what is most helpful to say when religious platitudes have been repeated for generations? It is not inappropriate to remind someone with depression of God’s love or of his Word. There are however, scriptures that are used out of context or in disagreement with the rest of the Bible. We must be careful to apply truth in an unadulterated way.
The six letters of the word STIGMA form a helpful acronym. Today’s blog looks at G.
G = God’s Way is only how I understand it
No one knows the unknown. As much as we like to think we can relate the best scriptures to any given problem, we cannot. Only the Holy Spirit has access to anyone’s core beliefs and thoughts. By spiritualizing depression and insisting on certain spiritual solutions, we may be interfering with God’s work.
Quoting Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything,” as if it is a black and white command, is to ignore the anxiety of Paul who wrote the sentence. In 2 Corinthians 7:5 we see he experienced “fears within,” and suffered anxiety in Philippians 2:28. In fact, his advice to not be anxious about anything is in response to division between two church members. He goes on to teach those two and all the believers in that church how to maintain peace in their ranks. (Chapter 3 begins this teaching, and we do not see Paul’s closing on the subject until chapter 4: 8,9. Remember, chapter divisions and headings are placed there by publishers, and did not divide Paul’s original flow of thought.)
In the middle of depression, to follow any suggestion that we deny our emotions, whether they be anxious or negative, is to potentially bypass the excruciatingly necessary healing of God. It takes time for the Holy Spirit to unearth false core beliefs and to teach us, often with human help, how to renew our minds. There is no ZAP from poor thinking to healthy thinking.
In depression, we do not have a felt experience with God like healthy believers do. This is temporary. The pre-frontal cortex tends to shut down while the flight, fight or freeze mechanism runs at full capacity. This does not cause a person to lose faith. It can prevent feeling anything good.
Suggesting we in depression are sinning by feeling as we do, or to say, “just allow God’s joy in” is to spiritualize what is not spiritual. It is important to not confuse depressive thoughts or any emotion with failure. If we do, the effect is a sense of condemnation. One man told me he had cast the spirit of suicide out of his brother and his brother has had no more problems. This is possible, and it is also possible his brother does not confide in him anymore because of the presumption.
What can you say and do? Show acceptance and validation. Say, “it makes sense you feel that way” because if you had the exact shared experiences and physical makeup you might feel the same. Remember to remind people with depression that God does not run away from tough situations; he fights their battles. Psalm 34:18 reads, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” –COMMENTS WELCOME
Today’s Helpful Word
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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