Beginning with Rejoicing ~The Joy of the Lord
Each morning is a new day. Let’s put a smile on your face and begin by praising God! Let the first thought of the day be, “Thank you Lord for my spouse, my kids, the sun that’s shining in the window, or [whatever applies to you]. There has to be something you can be thankful for, even if it is as simple as just the air you are breathing. Depression is like a coat with pockets that are filled with lead weights. The more depressed we are, the more lead weights are stacked into our pockets. So let me share with you my thoughts of beginning with rejoicing and the Joy of the Lord.
Christians and Depression
I was overwhelmed when I researched the word depression. I found that each month over 246,000 people per month search the internet for this word. And conversely only 60,500 searches per month for inspirational Bible verses. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to all of our problems, including depression. Being depressed doesn’t just touch 1 in 1000 people or even 1 in 100 people. Instead it touches ALL of us. Happiness and sadness are the two extremes of emotions that even as children we experience. That means we know what it feels like. Just as there are many shades of the color gray, there are many degrees of depression.
If you are saved then you are a child of the Almighty God. Our God is the only living God. The Bible talks much about the Joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), rejoicing in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), and joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5). The Bible goes on further with this thread with, Let the redeemed of the Lord say so (Psalm 107:2), I was glad when the said unto me, Let us go unto the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1).
Replacing Depression with Joy
Continuing on daily with a depressed attitude and outlook on life is not healthy, on any level. Depression is known to affect our physical health and lead to everything from ulcers to heart attacks. Depression, left uncared for emotionally, can even lead to suicide.
Here I want to focus on shaking that depression– removing it, cleaning it out of our thinking– and replacing it with the Joy of the Lord!
The first step I believe is to acknowledge where you are. If you are struggling with depressing thoughts and a depressed overall attitude then find someone to tell it to. Whether it is a friend, pastor, or family member I encourage you to tell someone.
A good second step is to realize you need to make a change. If you are not going to church then you need to seek out a Bible believing church and attend. We as Christians need other believers. We need to hear the teaching of the word and sing praises to God.
On a daily basis I feel it is beneficial to get up in the morning and start with saying, “Thank you” to the Lord for something. We all having something we can be thankful for. If you can’t think of anything, then thank Him for the air you are breathing and the sun that is shining. An attitude of praise, thanksgiving, and hope is not going to be felt in your heart if you constantly have nothing good to say about anyone or anything. Thank the Lord for your spouse, your kids, your home, your salvation, the Word of God, Jesus Christ dieing on the cross for your sins, etc. When we awake first thing in the morning with a note of thanksgiving it helps to flavor the whole day.
Take time to read your Bible each day. Spend even just a few minutes first thing in the morning and read a Psalm. If you are full of sad thoughts then you need to start putting something else into your mind instead of the morning news. If you find you don’t have time to read even 5 verses, then recite some memory verses to yourself as you get dressed. Place a card on your mirror in the bathroom that has a verse of encouragement and read it.
And the last thought I want to leave you with is, find a way to become involved with other people. Begin doing something where you feel you can make a difference. Begin investing yourself in someone else. Ask your pastor if you can help with the youth or Sunday School. Even if they have teachers you could offer to come and do a craft with the kids occasionally.
Several years ago we were friends with an elderly couple. All of their children and grandchildren lived far away. When we were moving into our house they came over and vacuumed, washed windows, and even brought us dinner the one night. We kept saying they didn’t need to do all this work. Amid my protests Mary stopped, put down her dust rag, and with tears in her eyes she said, “Please, let me… I need to do this…” I froze, not realizing that she needed to have us to invest herself in.
Depression in the Bible
The Bible is full of stories of various Christians who struggled with this very thing. The book of Jonah ends on a sour note of how Jonah was upset that God had not destroyed Nineveh. Peter was always up and down, one minute on a mountain top of faith and then in the next chapter denying Christ and weeping bitterly. That is why God gave us books like the Psalms and the victories of Joshua. Take time to read the Word and underline any verse that talks about the joy of the Lord, gladness, praise, strength, etc.
If you feel you have no one that cares about you then you need to find a church family. Begin attending regularly and get to know the people. Look for opportunities (trust me, they abound if you just start to look) to help. Don’t let Satan dupe you into thinking that there isn’t anyone out there that cares if you are alive or dead. That is not true. The Lord Jesus Christ laid down His very life that you might be saved, so He loved you first of anyone. I encourage you to make the first step to reach out.