3 Characteristics of Depression in the Bible

I saw someone share a post on social media the other day that countered the saying, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” It explained that, sometimes, we are given more than we can handle because it is in those moments that we are to lean on God for strength to get through our circumstances.

There are many circumstances that are crippling, suffocating, and paralyzing, that render us incapable of making it through on our own. What happens when these situations come into our lives? How can we get through these seasons of overwhelming fear, doubt, and depression? Perhaps you already know the stories of Job, Naomi, David, and Elijah, but I hope today’s post and exploration of depression in the Bible is a reminder to you that you are never alone in your struggles.

Without further ado, we’ll dive into three aspects of depression as addressed in the Bible and explore how we can recognize, understand, and find helpful solutions in seasons of depression.

1) A Bitter Feeling, A Miserable Existence

“I’m nothing. I don’t matter.”

Maybe you’ve said these words to yourself at some point in your life – lies that the enemy of our soul tries to make us believe when we’re vulnerable. Both of these statements and every iteration are complete lies straight from the devil, but it’s easy to convince yourself of them.

“I’m nothing,” I once thought, but then God reminded me I’m not.

Did I die for nothing?

No, He didn’t. He died for me. He died for you, and He cares for you more than you could ever fathom. You are not “nothing.” But sometimes, the feeling of depression and misery is overwhelming, temporarily keeping you from believing the truth.

We may even come to hate ourselves and hate our lives. Job’s monologues implied that he suffered from such misery:

“My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job 10:1 KJV

Naomi, after losing her husband and her sons, asked to be called “Mara,” which means “bitter” (see Ruth 1:20). We know that David experienced much emotional imbalance stemming from the traumas he faced and mistakes he made in his life:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel…But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”
Psalms 22:1-3, 6 KJV

David constantly went from lamenting his situation to praising the Lord to feeling abandoned by God to declaring his trust in Him. Many who suffer from depression struggle with this kind of emotional imbalance. They seem to be up and down. Fine one day and at rock bottom the next. Living life on an emotional roller coaster breeds more misery and exhaustion. When we rely on our feelings to determine what judgments to make about our lives and ourselves, we’ll be prone to emotional instability and dissatisfaction with life.

2) Isolation and Silence

“I just want to be alone, to go somewhere no one knows me, and live alone with my thoughts.”

Maybe you’ve had this thought before. There are certainly benefits to having alone time, and when we go through difficult times, we need moments to sort out our thoughts and be with God. But too much isolation and silence can also prevent us from processing grief or difficult situations in a healthy way and keep up from moving forward. Nevertheless, we see isolation and silence as symptoms depression or grief in the Bible as well. When Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life, he left his servant at Beer-Sheba and traveled alone into the wilderness (see 1 Kings 19:1-4). Job went silent for seven days after losing his family:

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
Job 2:13 KJV

Being unable to speak is a sign of deep emotional stress, and isolating yourself with your thoughts in this time can be even more dangerous. If we don’t allow ourselves to seek after God in these moments, then we may become lost in thoughts of hopelessness and, even worse, suicide.

3) Wishing for Death

“God, I can’t do this anymore. Just take me.”

Maybe this thought has crossed your mind as well. To many, death seems like the only way to no longer feel the pain of loss or the emotional stress of financial struggles, family turmoil, or physical illness. I’ll admit I had this thought once when I was sick with undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes and felt purely miserable, like I was dying. And I had this thought again when faced with the possibility of having no income and no medical insurance. The stress and fear were overwhelming. In a moment of emotional and mental exhaustion, I just didn’t want to feel like that anymore. For me, the thought of asking God to take my life and get it over with was a fleeting one, but for many, this thought is a constant mindset as depression weighs heavily on their souls.

In biblical times, certain accounts show people who also experienced these feelings or wishing for death. We read in Job that he wished he had not even been born:

“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived…Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”
Job 3:3, 11 KJV
“Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.”
Job 6:8-10 KJV

Elijah also wished God would take his life:

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
1 Kings 19:4 KJV

As Carlton Coon wrote in his book Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression, Elijah “was not having a blue day” (Coon 37). Wishing for death and isolating oneself are signs that someone is suffering from depression. This person doesn’t see a way out. They don’t see any value in their life anymore. They feel less than. They feel worthless.

But Jesus is the Path through dark times.

Each of these people – Job, Naomi, Elijah, and David – continued to live for God even when they experienced hardship and suffered from symptoms of depression. Though there were times when David felt alone, he continued to seek God. Though Job wished for death and lamented in his grief, he maintained reverence for God: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter upon the earth” (Job 19:25 KJV). From reading about the emotional struggles of important biblical figures, we can understand that these mental battles are not unique to our time. If they could overcome and survive bouts of depression, so can we. It is the same merciful God who spoke to and comforted them who will speak to and comfort you and me today.

In every mental or emotional struggle you may face, don’t stop talking to God, and don’t stop listening for His voice.

No matter what, we cannot discount the importance of making prayer and Bible studying our daily lifestyle because it is in those dark times that we will need to rely on our walk with God all the more.

Navigating a Season of Depression

Depression.

We’ve all been there. Whether we’ve lost a loved one or suffered another kind of loss or setback, most of us know what it is like to struggle with feelings of depression. But depression affects us all differently and to varying degrees.

I’ve been reading Rev. Carlton Coon’s book Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression, and I wanted to share some important points with you from Encountering Depression that may help you or someone you love learn how to navigate depression.

1. There is significance in variety.

As I stated in the intro of this post, depression affects us all to different degrees. Reverend Coon references everything from mild seasons of depression or grief to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), which we used to call clinical depression (Coon 21). Below are some examples of the common ways depression affects people:

  • Increased isolation
  • Disinterest in normal activities
  • No appetite
  • Brain fog
  • Increased tiredness
  • Decreased sense of self-worth
  • Anger
  • Suicidal thoughts

There are many more ways depression can affect a person’s mood or lifestyle, but the variance in how we experience depression is significant. We in the community of people who want to increase awareness of mental health issues and help others understand them may forget that there are people out there who still dismiss mental illness and believe depression to be a figment of the imagination. Those who have experienced depression or have a loved one or friend who has know otherwise.

No two people are exactly alike in every conceivable way, and depression’s different effects on us are proof of that. You may become angry and lash out at others when suffering from depression, but someone else might feel intensely sad or simply numb. These different experiences further prove that mental health and mental health issues need to be discussed all the more so that everyone can recognize whether they or someone they know is experiencing a serious mental health problem and find healthy solutions to get through it. The differences in how depression affects everyone who suffers from it do not take away from the seriousness of this disease but instead show that no person’s experience with depression should be dismissed or belittled.

2. There is healing in simplicity.

Just as there is variety in how depression grips each person who experiences it, there is also variety in how a person should respond to and navigate this difficult season. In Encountering Depression, Reverend Coon emphasizes balance and simplicity. If a person is emotionally balanced, then depression is less likely to overwhelm them (Coon 62). Too much on one’s plate is often a recipe for becoming overwhelmed, which is why simplifying one’s routine may prove beneficial. As Coon states, dealing with too much “leads to exhaustion, which is a fertile field in which depression often takes root” (Coon 82).

Consider the following tips for simplifying your routine and engaging in activities that may help you navigate depression:

  • Remove yourself from non-essential projects and activities.
  • Get yourself outside and go for nature walks.
  • Take a break from social media.
  • Set a simple daily routine.
  • Take time to rest.

There is a reason we need rest so much. As imperfect humans, our minds and bodies can only take so much before we become weary. An overloaded mind and body often results in burnout and feeds depression. We must take time regularly to unplug, get outside, remove ourselves from activities that may be weighing us down, and give ourselves time to breathe, pray, and repeat.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.“

Matthew 11:28 KJV

Just breathe. Just pray. Rest. Read the Word. And repeat the process.

And we know that getting through a season of depression is a p r o c e s s. But it is doable by learning how to understand what we’re experiencing and why, finding healthy ways to get through it, and finding rest and strength in God’s presence.

“To God, who divided dark from light, the darkness and light are both essential to His creation. Endure the darkness – in time the dawn will come.”

Reverend Carlton Coon, Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression

Reference:

Coon Sr., Carlton L. Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression. 2019.

How to Help Each Other Heal

Photo courtesy of the Help Me Heal Ministries Facebook page.

Healing should not be a solitary process.

Can you think of a time when you were healing from a difficult experience and managed to go through that process alone with no outside help? Whether it’s the prayers of others, financial or emotional support, or having a group of friends to find comfort in, we need each other to help us through the healing process.

Last week, I attended the Help Me Heal Conference in Springfield, Missouri, in which there were many lessons and sermons on the various aspects of healing, taking care of your physical and mental health, and dealing with different kinds of trauma. It’s an important annual conference that you should certainly attend if you’re in the greater Springfield area! We all have trauma in our lives and difficult circumstances that we’ve had to face. No one has experienced life without having to go through some kind of grief, loss, trauma, or physical or emotional issue, and we are all in need of healing.

Reverend Carlton Coon, who has authored many books one of which is titled Encountering Depression (which you should definitely check out!), spoke about healing and its connection to the members of the church on the first night of the conference. He explained that helping each other heal “is the ministry of the saints.” Indeed, as the body of Christ, we are to help each other along the healing process. None of us are scar-free, sadly, and we all have some healing to do.

So, why not help each other during this process? The church is meant to be a place where the hurting can go and find healing in the presence of God and comfort among the people of God. Often, we let our flesh and personalities get in the way of what the church is meant to be. Rather than help each other heal, we tend to tear each other down, criticize, or dismiss each other’s backgrounds and experiences altogether. Something I’ve become more aware of as I’ve gotten older and experienced more difficulties in life is that you simply may never know what someone else is dealing with or has gone through. Kindness and a smile can go a long way in helping comfort someone who is in need of healing.

How can we truly help each other heal?

1. Be mindful of the things you say to each other.

We’ve all been on both the receiving and the giving end of helpful “advice.” Sometimes, though the words may be well-intentioned, one’s “advice” to someone going through a difficult time can do more harm than good.

The following sayings are often used as advice to the hurting:

“Just move on.”

“Get over it.”

“It could be worse.”

The first two statements imply that healing is easily achieved by making a single decision, as though that decision is also easily made. There are things in my life that have caused my family and I to experience a great deal of emotional trauma, and to this day, we are in many ways not “over” it. How can one simply move on from loss? How can one simply get over a traumatic experience?

Healing is not simple, and we must rely on a close relationship with God to give us strength to navigate each day and each part of the process.

The third statement dismisses a person’s feelings and belittles his or her experiences as though they are not as bad as they seem, and this may be true. However, if someone is going through depression because they lost a loved one or a job, for example, telling them their situation could be worse may indicate to them that you are judging their reaction to their situation.

There is a right time to remind a person of the things they still have to be grateful for and a wrong time. If a woman suffers a miscarriage, it would not be wise to say, “Well, at least you’ve got another child. It could be worse.” But there may be a moment when this woman is ready and able to find comfort in her other children during the healing process.

This is why it is essential that we give careful thought to the impact our words may have on someone who is trying to heal.

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of your prayers for the hurting.

It is a great comfort to know people are praying for you and truly care for your emotional well being. When my grandmother passed away last year, although I was of course saddened from knowing that I would not see her again in this life, I remember feeling a sense of peace and comfort that I couldn’t explain. Somehow knowing that there were people out there praying for my family and I helped us heal.

It’s easy to say that you’re going to pray for someone and then never do it. You get busy, you forget, and maybe you later mention them in passing in your prayer time. But how much more impactful would your prayers be if you really spent time lifting up the name of someone in need of healing to God in prayer?

You may never know the comfort these words can bring to someone in pain: “I just want you to know that I am praying for you.”

When someone has ever said this to me, it reminds me that someone out there does care and that just maybe I’m not alone after all.

3. Don’t judge someone stuck in the healing process.

Everyone handles difficulties and different emotions, well, differently. Two people may go through the same experience and be in different stages of the healing process. Person A may have been able to accept the situation while Person B may still be angry about it. It wouldn’t be helpful or very understanding for Person A to say, “Why hasn’t Person B moved on yet? What’s wrong with her? I’ve moved on. Yesterday she was fine, and now she’s upset about it again. She needs to let it go.”

And then out come the unhelpful bits of “advice” that people tend to give.

Healing is not linear. It’s not a ladder but rather a circle, and you may go back and forth between anger to sadness to acceptance to denial to sadness to acceptance to anger over and over and over again. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing, and there is no easy solution.

It is true that you may never truly get over or move on from a loss or from trauma, as though all that is required to “move on” is the passage of time. We often expect that after a few years or so, a person should just magically be able to move on now.

“All right, Bob, it’s been four years since your wife died. You should be over it by now.”

Not exactly the right mindset when it comes to helping others heal or understanding how someone may struggle with healing. You’ve heard the saying, “Time helps heal all wounds,” and that is partially true. But I’ve found that time sometimes only gives a person distance between them and the moment of trauma, and all it takes for their scabbed over wound to bleed again is a memory or seeing someone tied to that situation again.

The passage of time does not guarantee healing.

We have the responsibility to help each other heal.

We can pray for one another, point others to The Healer, spend quality time with someone who is hurting, or give them needed space. And we must let them have time to heal.

We are all in need of healing, and it is God’s plan for His church to be the place where the hurting can find the healing that they need.

Will you stand in the gap for the hurting and be the person who helps others heal?

The Reason Why Jesus Came: Reflecting on 2021

This is the last post of Breathe Pray Repeat…

…of 2021.

2021 has been an interesting year. For some, it’s been better than 2020, but for others, not so much. There’s been a lot of grief and loss for far too many this year. I know quite a few people who have lost loved ones, and my own family has been affected by grief after my grandmother and uncle passed away this summer. People are suffering, and just when it seems that burden has lifted, something else often happens to cause more grief.

As I began to reflect on this Christmas season and the mood many are feeling at the end of this year, I thought again of the song my church’s youth group sang for Christmas:

“For the broken, the unworthy, You came. Jesus, You came. For the wounded, for the hurting, for the lost, and for the lonely, You came. Jesus, You came.”

When I think of all the pain and loss many of us are feeling at the end of this year, I remember we’re exactly the kind of people Jesus came for. As Jehovah, He hadn’t experienced the same kind of sadness and grief and weariness until He wrapped Himself in flesh and became the Messiah, our Savior Jesus Christ. He chose to walk and live among us and suffer sadness, grief, and persecution ALL for us. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. So, He knew and knows what loss feels like.

You may feel defeated, weary, and weak, but Jesus came to lift that burden and give you hope. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have hope we’ll be reunited in Glory with our loved ones who have passed. We have hope we’ll get through every trial and come out of it stronger than before. When the joy of the Lord is your strength, you can learn to find joy and gladness even in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:13 (KJV)

As I look back over this year, I see a lot of sorrow and hardship for my own family. But I also see a lot of good memories. I see a lot of good people who have been there for us and with us through it all. I see how God carried us through our loss. I see how God blessed me with a job that I desperately needed. I can see the blessings of God even through the bitterness of difficult times.

And that gives me hope—hope for a great 2022 even if some things don’t go my way.

As you’re reading this, if you’ve suffered some kind of hardship this year, I want you to know Jesus came for you. He came to be your comfort on those sleepless and sorrow-filled nights. He came to be your strength when you can’t stand another day. He came to fight your battles against spirits of depression, infirmity, and despair. He came so that you might have life more abundantly, and He came to give you salvation and a future with Him.

Jesus, our Jehovah, had the first word in the beginning, and He has the final say.

This Christmas and New Year season, remember that you are never alone in whatever struggle you’re facing or battle you’re going through. Remember that you’re the reason why Jesus came.

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)

*****

Thank you to everyone who has read Breathe Pray Repeat this year, and a very special thank you to every person who wrote a guest post on BPR! You are all amazing, and I’m so thankful for you. I hope to bring more great content to you in 2022 and more great posts from guests that will encourage you and draw you closer to our God.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

~Caitlin

On the Potter’s Wheel: A Guest Post by Camrie Houck

Tears slipped down my cheeks as I roared down that road in that little red car.

“Jesus, why am I so broken?” I uttered as I felt as though I couldn’t be put together again. I felt like I was damaged beyond repair.

But Jesus.

As I sobbed, I felt God’s comfort wrap around me, and I heard him say, “Yes, you may be broken, but you’re in the best place you can be. You’re broken, but you’re in my hands.”

Just these past few weeks, I have been broken. While life spun along around me, I stayed in the hands of the Potter, the very best place to be. When it feels as if everything in life is breaking us down, when life feels as though it’s completely and totally spinning out of control, you very well may be on the Potter’s Wheel.

Rest assured, dear friend, that even on the Potter’s Wheel, you are still in the hands of Jesus. Perhaps sufferings come not as a thing meant to break us, but to reshape us.

Sometimes, things that we have picked up in life, calloused wounds, and attributes that we are not meant to have are broken off of the jar known as “us.” We often misinterpret the surgical knife in the hands of the most knowledgeable surgeon as a knife murderously held at our throats. We mistake what was meant to reshape us for something that will break us.

Sometimes, some things come so that the glory of God might be revealed. As 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of power may be of God and not of us.”

Moving on to verses 8-9, we read this:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (KJV)

Rest in this, dear friend.

“Perhaps sufferings come not as a thing meant to break us, but to reshape us.

Camrie Houck

You may feel as though there is something wrong everywhere you look. You may be perplexed, persecuted, and cast down, BUT you are not destroyed, you are not in despair, you are not forsaken.

You ARE in the hands of the man who loves you the most. The God of the universe who desires to commune with us.

Remember, even in the breaking, even in the shaping, even on the Potter’s Wheel, you are in the hands of Jesus.

*****

From a young age, Camrie has loved to write. Starting a blog has been a long-time dream of hers, so she finally took the leap and started her blog, Camrie Writes, in September 2021. On any given day, you can find Camrie working on her first book, teaching, or talking with family and friends about teaching or writing. Camrie is also a full-time public school substitute teacher and is studying to teach middle school. Be sure to follow along with her blog on Facebook or Instagram (@camrie_writes)!

BPR Update + Thought of the Day

Today, I will not be posting a regular blog post. Life has been busy this week, and I did not want to rush through a Bible study post just to have it posted by today. Have no fear, dear reader, for I will be posting a regular blog post next Friday. Because I love and appreciate all of you very much, I’ll go ahead and give you a sneak peek at next week’s topic: people’s reactions to sin. Yes, next week on BPR you’ll read a bit about my take on the reaction to sin among many Christians in society today and on how we should react to sin.

Now, I also wanted to share with you a brief thought in light of recent events in my family’s lives that may apply to many of you. Over the past couple of weeks, my family and I lost both my grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) and my uncle, and I know of many who have passed away this year or over the past year from the “vid” or other illnesses. Many people in the church are feeling a lot of pain and sadness right now. Brokenness and loss have visited many homes and afflicted many hearts.

I know that my family has felt the prayers of the church, and the peace of God and support from friends and our church family have helped alleviate a lot of the grief that comes with losing a loved one. I also know that when you’ve lost a loved one, the only one who can truly help you carry on and get through another day is, of course, our God.

He is the God of comfort, after all.

When my pastor spoke at my grandmother’s gravesite service, he said a few things I wanted to share with you that might comfort you or someone you know who has lost a loved one. He mentioned that many people say when someone passes away that we’ve lost them, but you can’t lose something when you know where it’s at. He also said, “We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.”

So many beloved children of God have traded their tents on earth for a mansion in Heaven and are now rejoicing on streets of gold before our King, free of pain and suffering and sorrow. They’ve finally made to where we are planning to spend eternity.

Recently, I was going through Psalms and stopped at chapter 34. I believe there are many verses in this chapter that offer a lot of comfort to those who are feeling grief, hurt, or brokenness, and so I wanted to leave you this week simply with this chapter to offer some encouragement:

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing….The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Psalms 34:1-10, 15-19 (KJV)

“We are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying going to the land of the living.”

Pastor Tony Wyatt

The Hope of Believers: 3 (More) Reminders from Romans 8

Tired of bad news? Social turmoil? Dealing with sickness? Struggling just to make it through the day?

This world seems to be getting further from Jesus with each passing day, but Romans 8 gives us many powerful truths about life on earth and beyond earth. Here are three brief reminders from Romans 8:20-39 to give you strength and hope in these trying times.

1. We have hope of an eternal reward.

No matter how messy things get on earth, believers have hope that someday soon, we will no longer be in this world but with our Savior forever in a world where sin, death, and pain no longer exist. Romans 8:20-23 describes the fall of Creation and the hope that we have:

“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

In a nutshell, this passage explains that God subjected mankind and nature to the curse of sin and death because of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, but He did this in hope. No matter how much creation and we ourselves may groan in pain on this earth, we have hope that God will someday deliver us from the bondage of our corrupt, mortal bodies. When that happens, the adoption as God’s children will be complete and the body redeemed since sin and death will be no more. As verse 25 states, we have hope for that which we cannot physically see and wait for it with patience.

This is one of the greatest promises of God.

2. We also have hope of better things even here on earth.

Just because we hope for Christ’s coming and life with Him in eternal glory, that does not mean that we don’t have hope for good things here on earth even amidst turmoil and destruction. When we go through things and travail in prayer, the Spirit makes intercession for us (see Romans 8:26-27). This means that the Spirit goes beyond our limits and weaknesses in prayer and prays on our behalf when we don’t even know what to say or how to pray for our situation.

No matter how hopeless you may feel, you are not forsaken or without hope!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (KJV)

All things—our trials and joys—work together for our good according to His plan for our lives. Notice that this verse states that this applies “to them that love God” and “to them who are the called.” When you love God, live for God according to His Word, and answer the calling He has placed on your life, then you can rest assured that God has a plan for every trial you will experience and for every period of your life.

God has given us hope on earth that He will help and guide us through life so that Romans 8:29-30 may be able to apply to us:

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

There’s a lot to unpack from these two verses, but my Apostolic Study Bible breaks it down into 5 concepts: 1) God’s plan includes the fact that He knew from the beginning that man would fall and need a Savior; 2) God planned in advance for the church to be formed in His likeness; 3) salvation extends to everyone, but everyone has the individual responsibility to answer God’s calling in order to be chosen; 4) God redeems us from our sins in justification; and 5) we will receive sinless bodies in eternal glory with Christ.

If we maintain a righteous lifestyle and faithful walk with God, then again we have hope of eternal life with our Savior.

3. It’s never a mistake to depend on Jesus for everything.

The last several verses of Romans 8 reveal that it is not only God who is the only one who can condemn or justify us but that it is also God who makes intercession for us and helps and loves us no matter what. It doesn’t matter what we may face or what may come against us, we are more than conquerors through Christ (see Romans 8:37).

His love extends far beyond the weight of our sins and powers of darkness!

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

We can depend on Jesus for everything we need, for He is everything we need!

He is our Strength, our Helper, our Forgiver, our Savior, and the Lover of our souls.

5 Things To Help You Overcome Depression

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place the entire month of May, and the theme this year is “You are not alone.”

For those who struggle with depression, overcoming it is not as simple as others might think.

There are those who might say, “Everyone gets depressed. Just get over it,” or, “If you really wanted to be happy, then you would be,” but they don’t realize that overcoming depression does not come so easily as simply wishing for it to happen. As someone who has struggled with forms of depression and who has many family members who have as well, I’ve seen and experienced the difficulty in trying to force yourself to “be happy” even though you feel sad, heartbroken, abandoned, and alone. It often results in burying emotions that need to be worked through and addressed only for them to rise again later and leave you more broken and shattered than before. Forced healing is not lasting healing.

Because May is mental health awareness month, I’ve decided to share with you and those who are struggling five things that have helped me in the process of overcoming feelings of depression. Of course, this post may not be entirely applicable to those who are suffering from severe or clinical depression. If you or someone you know is suffering from clinical depression, please know that there is no shame in reaching out for help, receiving support from a psychiatrist, or asking for prayer. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of because, yes, many people do suffer from various forms of depression and feelings of sadness to varying degrees.

“Forced healing is not lasting healing.”

Instead of trying to ignore or bury those feelings, here are five things you might try to help you begin the process of overcoming it:

1. Listen to music.

Now, some of these tips may seem basic, but just hear me out. When I’ve struggled with depression, almost every single time, I’ve managed to find comfort and feel God’s presence through new Gospel songs I found. One song in particular that spoke to me when I was struggling was “Defender” by Francesca Battistelli.

Listening to music, or music therapy, has proven calming effects that can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. When one listens to music, be it instrumental or soothing music, it can help that person experience his or her emotions on a deeper, more visceral level. It may even help clear the mind and make one’s emotions easier to understand.

Just any music doesn’t prove helpful to me, however, which is why I encourage listening to Christian music. As Christians, we understand that our help comes from God, but when we’re struggling with caring for our mental and emotional health, it sometimes becomes necessary to plug into other avenues that help us connect better to His presence. Don’t just listen to the music, but meditate on it. Find new songs that speak to what you’re going through and let yourself praise Him as you listen.

2. Listen to sermons.

We listen to messages over the pulpit every week, but sometimes, it helps to search for an extra word from God throughout the week when we’re feeling overwhelmed with sadness or anxiety. God can minister to us today even through an old message posted to YouTube five or more years ago. One such sermon that I heard when I was struggling and that I’ve returned to often is Victor Jackson’s message at General Conference 2019 called “The Forgotten Anointing.” For those who are weary and full of grief, this message may just be the word from God that will help you begin to heal.

Whether you search for sermons based on what you’re going through or by a preacher you’re familiar with, consider taking notes while listening to the sermon. Write down how God might be speaking to you through the message and ways you can apply it to your life moving forward.

3. Do focused Bible studying.

This one might seem like another no-brainer to those who study the Word consistently, but doing some focused Bible studying is a great way to work through what you’re experiencing by researching it in the Scriptures.

When I found myself in a dark place once, I realized the one thing that might help me get through it was if I could just feel the comfort of God again. So, I began doing a word search for “comfort” in my phone’s Bible app that contains the Strong’s Concordance. As I read verse after verse and studied the original Hebrew meanings of “comfort,” I immediately felt God’s presence. By the next morning, the heavy burden of grief and sorrow that had weighed me down had lifted immensely.

Doing some focused Bible studying on key terms or events in the Bible can help you understand the biblical approach to what you’re experiencing and will take you closer to the presence of God.

4. Get (and stay) involved in church.

It’s natural to want to take a step back from responsibilities at church or even not to want to attend a service or two when you’re struggling with depression, but it’s when you’re struggling that you need that foundation and consistency in your life the most.

Find new ways to get involved in ministry or new ways to use the gifts God has given you for His Kingdom. Go to every service. Continue worshipping God in the worship service and at the altar call. Attend special events or services. Keep in touch with your pastor and church family.

Although it may be difficult and you may feel at times as though you have to put on a smile and pretend you’re okay, the consistency of fellowshipping with the people of God and serving in His Kingdom is one of the most important steps in overcoming depression. The consistency and strong foundation that come with being involved in church bring much needed comfort and peace when you’re going through turbulent times or spiritually dry periods.

5. Do fun things.

Depression can make you feel as though you’re barely surviving and are unable to enjoy even the simplest parts of life, but don’t stop trying to find positive and uplifting things that can make you feel a little less sad for a little while.

Listen to music as we already explored above, or go out to breakfast or lunch with family or friends. Go for a walk at a park. Read a book. (If you need some reading inspiration, stay tuned for next week’s post when I’ll share some book ideas for your summer reading list!) Take a short trip on a day off and go to the lake or hiking or for a simple country drive. Write down your thoughts in a journal.

Whatever you do, do something that takes your mind off your stress and grief and pain if only for a moment and bask in that moment of relief. Every little moment of peace adds up, and eventually, you might find yourself going from feeling sad to being just okay to finally realizing that you are and can be happy in your life in spite of what you’ve gone through.

Overcoming depression is not an easy process and does not look the same for everyone. If you find yourself struggling harder with overcoming depression, try the above tips that have helped me.

Remember that our God is a God of peace. We can find the comfort we need in His presence and in the presence of our church family. Even though you may feel alone, you are not alone. You can overcome depression and be stronger than you were before.

“And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV)

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)

How to Overcome Self-Condemnation: Appealing to the Mercy of God

A man seeks God's forgiveness in prayer.

Sometimes when you make a mistake, the hardest part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself. If you’re like me, you might tend to beat yourself up for mistakes you’ve made, mulling over them at night and asking yourself how you could be so stupid. Self-condemnation completely hinders the process of forgiveness.

When we make a mistake, we must ask God for his mercy and strive to resist temptation and live according to His Word, but sometimes our own thoughts can make it much harder to feel forgiven when we imprison ourselves in our own guilt. What we forget in those moments is how much God truly loves us. In order for us to move forward with peace and in confidence, knowing that He has forgiven us, we must recognize His love for us and that His mercy has no end.

Two examples in His Word show us what it means to appeal to God’s mercy.

When Lot and his family escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, he asked God to save a nearby city so that they might flee to it and be saved.

“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”

Genesis 19:19-22 (KJV)

One of the first things Lot said to God was a reminder that God had granted Lot grace and that He had “magnified [His] mercy” by saving Lot’s life. When Abraham went to God to try to convince Him not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he appealed to God’s justice, asking if God would destroy the “righteous with the wicked” (see Genesis 18:23). Abraham did not succeed in his intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot succeeded in his intercession for Zoar by appealing first to the grace and mercy of God when he was in danger and needed to be saved.

In the New Testament, Jesus told a parable of humility and mercy when comparing the Pharisee to the publican.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican…. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Luke 18:10-11, 13 (KJV)

In this parable, the publican acknowledged his sinfulness and asked that God would show him mercy. He showed humility and an understanding of his own faults and need for a Savior.

These examples remind us to appeal to God’s mercy when we are facing difficulties and when we need forgiveness. Lot appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from circumstances. The publican appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from sin. Neither Lot nor the publican were perfect men, but in Lot’s case and in the parable of the publican, both men were sincere in their appeals, and God showed them His mercy. When we make a mistake and ask for forgiveness, we’re stating that we cannot make it on our own. Our appeal to God’s mercy becomes a declaration that we need Him.

Messing up again and again is human nature. God knows this. Of course, our human nature is not an excuse to sin, but rather it is a reminder that we need Him in order to resist temptation and receive forgiveness.

God is just and faithful to forgive of us our sins as His Word says in 1 John 1:9.

What these accounts remind me of is how much He wants to forgive us. Our God longs for us to surrender to Him and serve Him in righteousness and sincerity, and when we do, then He will forgive us of our sins. We need not walk in guilt and self-condemnation because He already paid the price for our sins and freed us from guilt and shame.

We can overcome guilt and self-condemnation by appealing to God’s mercy, by recognizing our flaws and inadequacies, and by understanding that it is only through the grace, love, and mercy of our Savior that we move forward and walk in confidence with Him. Self-condemnation will keep us from accepting His forgiveness, but the self-realization of our weaknesses and His great love for us keeps us under His blood and walking in newness of life.

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Post Schedule Announcement:

Lots of things are coming up as my schedule will be getting busier over the upcoming weeks, so posts will be on Fridays only until further notice.

I’ve seen there are some newer readers and subscribers to Breathe Pray Repeat, so I also want to say “welcome,” and I pray these posts bless you and encourage you to get closer to God as you seek Him more and study His Word.

If you have any post or Bible study requests, don’t hesitate to comment below or send me a message and let me know! God Bless!

5 Scriptures for When You’re Hurting

A woman dealing with grief

When you’re in pain, sometimes there are no words that can adequately describe what you’re going through.

Whether it’s a physical pain or emotional pain, that feeling of hurt can reach so deeply that it stretches far past the limits of your vocabulary.

People may ask, “How are you feeling?”

And you don’t know what to say. You may not even be exactly sure how you feel.

But we have a Savior who knows our hurt better than anyone. We have a God who experienced physical and emotional pain and who understands grief, hurt, anger, and suffering. We have a Comforter whose words are the only ones that can stretch past the limits of our vocabulary, reach into the deepest trenches of our anguish, and ease the burden of pain and sadness.

If you’re struggling with hurt, here are five Scriptures from His Word that offer an encouraging perspective:

“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”

Psalms 73:26 (KJV)

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

Psalms 147:3 (KJV)

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4 (KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Revelation 21:4 (KJV)

God is our strength when our heart fails and our body cannot carry us any further.

He is the Healer of our heart and the Mender of our brokenness.

We are blessed even in our mourning. For when we are in pain and sorrow, He comforts us.

When it’s too much for us to bear, we can surrender all our grief and despair to Him because our God truly cares for us. If it matters to us, it matters to the Master! He knows the pain we’re feeling even when we can’t put it into words or understand it ourselves.

And when our pain seems to overwhelm us, He reminds us of the promise that one day, our God Himself will wipe all tears of sorrow from our eyes, and we will no longer feel any more sadness, grief, or pain.

Just a little bit longer, and we’ll be with our King in eternal joy and freedom forever!

“There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear, no more sickness, no more pain, no more parting over there; And forever I will be, with the One who died for me, what a day, glorious day that will be.”

“What a Day That Will Be” by Jim Hill

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Schedule Update: There will be no blog post this Friday.

If you’d like to read more about Scriptures on comfort, check out this post from my series on studying comfort in the Bible.