A couple of weeks ago, the issue of depression became a huge topic that governed internet conversations for a while since it was Mental Health Awareness week. A lot has been said about it: how depression feels like a dark hole of despair that one cannot easily recover from. How we always need to check up on people who may seem to be suffering from it. How suicide is normally the ultimate ending for a depressed person if they do not receive the required attention etc. Yet, judging from the state of affairs, depression seems to be a conversation that will not end any time soon. Suicide tends to be the only icebreaker in many contexts.
Have you ever wondered why a prominent or famous person, i.e. a musician, politician, actor, musician etc. would end their life yet in our eyes, they are the epitome of success? I mean, the availability of money, fame, and the glamour of it all should be enough, right? This was a mind-boggling phenomenon for me a couple of years ago. I haven’t suffered depression, but I have struggled with major self-esteem issues that I believe have given me some kind of authority to speak on this particular issue. A better part of my high school and campus years were plagued with major self-esteem issues that had taken root in my heart and mind. I hid it well though. I wore a smile with such pride as I interacted with different people around me. I always felt like I always had to have it all figured out. My days were filled with ‘brightness’ and ‘joy’ as I kept up a facade while my nights only knew insomnia, tears, and feelings of sorrow and inadequacy.
My story was one that led to a good number of mistakes and compromises that made me want to fill the void I had within me. The advent and expansion of social media never made the situation easier since it was easy to compare myself with people or even friends who seemed to be making it big. I found it hard to talk to people about it, simply because the answers would only be, ‘just pray about it’, ‘trust God’, ‘other people are going through much more difficult conditions than you are, you ought to be grateful’ and many other answers that we recklessly mention in the name of providing assistance. At the time, God wasn’t concerned about my state and had much bigger issues to attend to, or so I thought. I felt helpless, broken and alone. I completely recovered from it though, and this is definitely worth celebrating. My experience taught me a couple of valuable lessons, some of which may seem quite harsh in your eyes. I realized that the battle was in my mind and I had to overcome my thoughts in order to overcome it. As you read on, I encourage you to be very objective especially if you have suffered from depression or know someone who is/has.
- A depressed mind is a selfish and proud mind
So this one here gets a little bit touchy. How can someone who is depressed be selfish, right? I like how the Merriam Webster definition puts it; a selfish person is one who is concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself. The definition further states that a selfish person is one who is concerned about one’s own welfare with total disregard for other people. In addition to that, a proud person is one who has a high opinion of oneself. Now, let’s reason together here. When I had a low self-esteem, I became very obsessed with what I felt I deserved and what I thought I should look like. It was always about, ‘I am ugly, I deserve to be this, why didn’t God create me this way and not that way? Why are they succeeding yet I am not?’. Most depressed people tend to feel like they are incapable of accomplishing their dreams or becoming what they were created for. Before you know it, such a mentality drives you to a very dark kind of self-centeredness. As you wallow in self-pity, you can easily forget that your life is meant to touch other people. You fail to recognize your achievements and blessings. You become so obsessed with yourself until you can never see the bigger picture. It’s quite an unfortunate affair because it really isn’t always about you. Depression affects your family, your loved ones, friends etc. On the other hand, I am fully aware of the fact that there are people who suffer depression due to rejection from these very people. Yet, we have an amazing father in our God, who will never forsake us even when a family member or friend does (Psalm 27:10).
2. Conquer your mind, honor God
Depression starts in the mind. We ought to be careful about the kind of voices we listen to. What kind of words do we allow into our minds and even have them take root in our hearts? My pastor once told us that our lives now are a result of our thoughts. You see, negative thoughts have a way of being so loud. Too loud to the point where it is easy to treasure them above what God says in his Word. As I mentioned earlier, the battle is in our minds. Unless a person discovers this, they will always feel inadequate because of the voices they have allowed into their mind and heart. Your thoughts shape you. They define your reality and the choices you make. Overcome those negative voices, honour thyself. The truth is, negative voices simply come from the Devil. Negative thoughts and imaginations contradict what God has said about us in His word. Negative thoughts do not define you. They grossly undermine what God thinks of us and make us focus on our own weaknesses and inconsistencies. Yet God made us capable; we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, we are more than conquerors etc. I could go on and on… but Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:5 said,
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Never EVER let negative thoughts keep your mind in bondage and take the place of Christ in your heart. Never let negative thoughts and opinions overrule what God has said about you. Honour yourself, honour God. Let our thoughts be obedient to Christ.
3. Suicide is not an option
In my opinion, this has got to be the highest level of selfishness in dealing with depression. Look at it this way, you were born at a certain time and place in history and in the world. A high and Supreme Being, who is our God, carefully orchestrated and created you, placing within you special gifts and all that you require to accomplish all that He created you for. Yet suicide is not only a slap on the face on your family, friends and loves ones, but mainly on God. Suicide literally screams, ‘This life you created me for is not worth living. I do not think God made a good choice in creating me and so I will end my life’. Suicide not only puts your destiny to a premature end, but you fail to be a positive influence in your generation. As sad as the situation may be, suicide is a total disregard not only for other people but for yourself as well. I often wondered how people lived their life without God, then I saw how suicide is an option for them; it all made sense. Your life will always remain meaningless without Him. Too meaningless to the point where it will be easy to take it away.
4. Our focus is Jesus
Simply put, NO CHILD OF GOD SHOULD EVER SUFFER DEPRESSION. Life does get extremely difficult. We lose loved ones, we face depression, we experience heartbreaks and rejection, we encounter financial problems among many other challenging situations. Yet, despite all these things, we have Jesus. I have gone through some pretty difficult moments in my life, yet Jesus makes the journey so much easier. There were times though, that Jesus and Christianity never made sense. It seemed like a place of escape for those who were too scared to face life head-on. Jesus was never a reality to me. In those moments, whatever I thought about myself, whether good or bad took center stage in my life and it was easier to make mistakes and have compromises. Jesus just seemed too far away. The Bible seemed too complicated and knowing God was such a task. You see when your focus is not Jesus and what God says in his word, it is easy to think that you have it all figured out. I tried living life my way, It never worked. I was always empty, and I needed my void filled. Jesus took my burdened and weary heart (Matthew 11:28). It wasn’t a one-time decision though. This has taken years. I never fully trusted Him. It is only recently that I realized that it is so much easier with him; but only if you let him. If you have given your life to Christ, yet suffer depression like a non-believer even to the point of having suicidal tendencies, what really makes you different from them?
As I said earlier, Jesus makes the experience easier. Suffering from depression even when you are born again shows a total lack of trust and faith in God and puts you at a point where you idolize your situation. Simply put, your eyes are not fixed on Jesus. From experience, it shows how proud you are believing that you can handle your own situation instead of laying it at the feet of the Master. It shows a total lack of focus, direction and misconstrued priorities in your Christian life. In fact, what you need is a divine encounter with Jesus. An encounter so deep that will show you how loved and cherished you are in His eyes. This had to happen to me, so that I could realize my power and place in the heart of God. That way, when you have your guard up in minding your mind, you are not the Devil’s easy target. Jesus can never whisper depression and suicide to you, the Devil does that. You cannot be thrown to and fro with every wind of doctrine (John 4:14). You will never get to the point of blaming God for your situation because you become so aware of his goodness and faithfulness, just like Job.
I have been meditating on this scripture for some time. John 14:21 says that,
The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.
I shed a tear when I read this. It was a moment of fresh revelation when I realized that Jesus wants to show, reveal and manifest himself to us. Honestly though, how beautiful is he? He takes our baggage and makes us light so that we can find rest in him. All we have to do is obey him. He has told us to rest, and that’s exactly what we will do. It’s not complicated. Just a loving father who cares about his children, that’s who God is. He is so good, so loving, and the revelation of this needs to sink into our spirits. Let us get so awakened to finding out more about this amazing God. I challenge you to read the Word more often than you already do and most importantly, meditate on it. To be quite honest, the Bible used to be such a boring book. However, when I realized that the Bible reveals to me who God is and who I am, I just can’t get enough of it. I desire to know more and more about what God has said in His word. It is so addictive. It’s light. Practically, I actively find out what God says about a certain situation I am going through. We even live in a time where we have the internet and are exposed to a wealth of information all over the world. For instance, when I feel condemned, I simply google what the Bible says about condemnation and meditate on those verses. It really helps. 🙂
I pray that this post has opened up your eyes to see how much God loves you. You are such a divine treasure, set apart for him. GOD WANTS YOU HAPPY, and we never go through difficult situations so that he could ‘teach us a lesson’. He only uses those difficult times, to show us how close and loving He is. Out of it all, we go through those tests, learn our lessons and should become victorious. You are the planting of the Lord for him to reveal his splendor. As the prophet Isaiah spoke to the Israelites in Isaiah 61:3, so does the same apply to us in this day and time.
God will grant joy to all those who mourn. Give them a garland of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened and failing spirit— that they may be called “Oaks of Righteousness”, the planting of the Lord for the display of his spleandour.
Do not allow yourself to wither away or be plucked out when God is eagerly waiting to reveal his glory to and through you. You are so blessed and highly favoured. Live it and love life all the more because you have Jesus.