The Epidemic

 "I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight." Isaiah 45:2....."Then he said to them, 'Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10....." The darkness of the world, the distortions of our flesh, and the schemes of the evil one combine to create illusions of despair. Resist them all. God's truth is remarkably contrary to what our souls perceive." Chris Tiegreen...."By the year 2020, the leading epidemic in our nation will be depression." Dr. Michelle Bengston

 

Depression. Many are held in its grip constantly. Many more deal with it often. All of us have suffered under it at one time or another. Bengston, a clinical psychologist, and one who spent years in the clutches of this jailer, says that while depression can result in part due to diet, sleep habits, and chemical imbalances in the brain, we cannot leave out the very real spiritual element in all of it. The enemy will seek to kill and destroy through any avenue possible, and while diet corrections and certain medications can help, our greatest weapon in all of it is the word and truth of God. Depression can often stem from our acceptance of a lie or lies planted in our mind and spirit by the enemy of our souls. Lies we believe about others, ourselves, and about God. When we accept these lies, we accept defeat, and open the door for the devil to pummel us with them. In these cases we need to "know the Truth" which makes us free. Not just truth lodged in our minds by memorization, but in the very fabric of our being. This means meditating, soaking in His truth, His word, so that it permeates every fiber of our being. Where His Truth is, He is, "and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

We also suffer depression as a result of dissatisfaction and discontent. Bengston says it often comes about by our constant habit of comparing. We compare our lives with others, and almost always, we come off a very poor second. Pastors know this firsthand. We too often compare ourselves to other pastors, almost always those seen as successful, and end up feeling inferior to them. Small wonder that a frightening number of current pastors admit to suffering from chronic depression. Sadly, the organized church can nurture rather than heal this toxic habit. We can also compare our lives with the lives we wish we would have, or the dreams we once dreamed. Our reality doesn't match our dream. Our outcome is nothing like our expectation. All this, as Bengston notes, makes us "immune to joy." We are unable to see Him as good when we insist that our lives aren't. We don't believe that He can make the "crooked place straight." Yet He can, He will, if we will allow Him to replace all the lies with His Truth.

I know this is a subject far beyond my few paragraphs, but as one who has himself walked through deep times of depressing darkness, I have found, and still find, that focusing on, dwelling on His Truth, allowing it to fill my heart, mind, and spirit, keeps me open to fresh waves of His joy. A.W. Tozer wrote a book titled, "I Talk Back To The Devil." He knew what Jesus taught and still teaches....Truth makes us free. His Truth brings ever greater infusions of His joy....in even the darkest places. Paul knew this is a tiny jail cell. John knew it on the island of Patmos. So have countless others who looked not at their lives in comparison to others, but in relation to Him....and His love, mercy, and peace. And they knew joy. May we know it too. Against His joy, no epidemic can spread.

Blessings,
Pastor O

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