This time of the year begins to usher in greater feelings of
depression for some people. As the daylight hours get shorter and the weather
gets cooler, we spend more time indoors and simply have more time to think
about our problems and woes.
There seems to be plenty of sorrow these
days! I have a couple of friends who are very ill, some others are facing the
loss of their jobs, families are blown apart because of sexual sin, and the
general mood tends toward fear, depression, and anxiety brought on by
situations that feel out of control. I can truly relate to these emotions.
where are you in my sorrow? Where are you in my distress? Where are you with
answers and help? Oh God I need you. I am washed over with grief and sorrow, my
heart is failing within me. Oh God, comfort me in my distress this morning!
Lift up my countenance bring me hope and joy! Remove these dark clouds of
despair from my heart and mind. Each time I think the darkness can grow no
deeper I am brought lower into the abyss of sorrow and mourning. My life has taken jolting twists and
turns and I fear I do not know where I will wind up in the end. It is as though
I am on a runaway cart in the darkest cavern and I am holding on for dear life.
Where can I find You Lord? Where do I go to bask in Your goodness and light? I
wish to hide myself in Thee, in the folds of Your magnificent train. Comfort me
in my distress Oh Lord, for I am weak and failing to stand."
You can hear my grieving heart in this excerpt from an untitled psalm I
wrote years ago. In those days there were times my emotions
wanted to sweep me away and I was a person in deep distress. Perhaps these
sentiments describe where you are today.
When I was struggling with depressive
feelings I had no shortage of people suggesting I begin taking medication. I
languished in this place for about a year and I have to admit, that when I was "washed
over with grief and sorrow" day after day medication was a tempting (but
fleeting) thought. No one likes to suffer, no one likes to feel sad, and if
there is a way out of it, then what is the harm in taking it? I did have to
grapple with those questions during those dark days when it seemed I would
never genuinely smile again.
While I have not experienced anything like that since then, there
are still occasions when I get down in the dumps over one thing or another.
Like you, I still have problems and trials that assail me. When I am in that
place of emotional turmoil, all I want to do it sit and stare at the wall. I
could spiritualize it and say that I am "being still before God," but
in my heart I know what I am doing has little or no spiritual benefit. I know
that what I am really doing is meditating on my problems and ruminating on my
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over
me? Psalm 13:2 (NASB)
When the Psalmist says he is taking
counsel in his soul it means he is thinking about his problems. This is
resulting in having sorrow in his heart all day long. Perhaps you can relate to
this as well. Do you find that the more you meditate on your problems the
deeper you sink into sorrow?
I would like to offer you something that may help. First it is
important to understand that our emotions are the physical experience of our
thought life. In other words, our feelings and emotions are the responses of
the things we think about that either please us or displease us. The billions
of thoughts we think each day often provoke emotional responses that relate to
what we call happiness, hope, well-being, sorrow, despair, fear, or anger.
Our thoughts come from what the Bible calls the inner man, which
is the place of reason (Matt. 13:15), feelings and affections (Ecc. 7:9; Isa
35:4). Our will, desires and belief system also resides in the inner man (Ps. 25:12).
Thoughts are obviously a function of the
brain. The brain is an organ that serves the body and almost always functions as it has been created to
operate. The brain carries out and reflects our hidden inner thoughts, or what
we can call the hidden desires of the heart. Thoughts in the inner man bring
about chemical reactions in our physical body. The brain is constantly
receiving information, taking in data and converting it through amazingly
complex series of chemicals and electrical impulses into vision, smells,
motion, emotions and sounds the body makes.
The connection between the inner and outer man cannot be separated.
When we think positive or negative thoughts, we experience emotions and our
bodies go along for the ride. So thinking is both an inner man activity and a
bodily function. God has created us to be both distinctly human and distinctly
spiritual beings. We are the only created beings that are like this! This is
why the Psalmist says "we are fearfully and wonderfully made!" (Psalm
We could say, our feelings
reveal our hearts to us. I have come to realize that most of the time my
feelings and emotions are my responses to things that a
sovereign God has brought into my life. He allows hardship through financial
reversal, He allows rebellious children who throw away all the truth that has
been poured into them, He allows job loss, He allows our husbands to sin
against us, He allows our bosses to treat us unkindly, and a host of other
negative things to enter our lives. How we respond to these or any other things
that take place in life reveal what we believe about God.
In our humanity, our
deceitful hearts take us places we don't want to go. This is why the Spirit of
God must be leading the charge for change. I have a hard time discerning what
is in my sinful heart because I lie even to myself! But God who sees and knows
all; He is completely aware of all of the contents of my heart and only He can
help me to overcome.
So many times women have
told me what a huge change they have made as a result of doing the following exercise: the
next time you find yourself feeling down, take a piece of paper and write down
what you are thinking about. This should help you understand why you are feeling the way you
are feeling. Once you identify what you are thinking, then get your Bible out
and compare your thoughts against the truth of Scripture and see if is
measures up to God's unchangeable Word. See if you can identify what you are
desiring or worshiping in your heart. You should be able to determine if you
are practicing some form of idolatry, and once you know what you are wrongly
worshiping you can repent and return to worshiping God alone.