Dealing with Depression: You Can Hope Again
What is Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) depression is a common but serious mood disorder which causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. The symptoms of depression may range from mild to severe. The following statements could alert you to the problem of depression:
- I feel sad or have a depressed mood
- I have lost interest or pleasure in activities I once enjoyed
- I have lost my appetite or I am eating too much
- I have trouble sleeping or I am sleeping too much
- I have loss of energy or I experience increased fatigue
- I feel worthless or guilty
- I have difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- I have thoughts of death or suicide
- I don't have much hope for the future.
There are factors that could lead to depression including family history of depression, major life changes, trauma, and certain physical illnesses and medication. But from a Biblical perspective, depression could be viewed as, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12).
Jeff Olson in his booklet, "When Hope is Lost: Dealing with Depression," explains that "deferred hope ... [is] when there seems to be no hope for gaining what is being desired or for recovering what's been lost or for ending injustice, the pain is emotionally gut-wrenching. Over time, this can create deep despair ..."
Treatment options for depression include psychotherapy and medication. However, this hub focuses on using your spiritual resources, even with treatment, to help you overcome depression, even with treatment. This approach involves changing your beliefs about life.
I remember several years ago I gave an elderly lady a copy and she later shared how helpful she found this booklet. In an easy to read way, the author looks at the nature of depression, the process and reason we give up, and the process of recovery. He uses Biblical principles to show that we can recover our hope through renewing a strong sense of faith.
Hope that Will Not Disappoint
You might be struggling with feelings of depression and a sense that all hope is lost. But you can find hope in God that does not disappoint. Take time to read Romans 5:1-5 slowly. The Apostle Paul outlines a process that could serve as a guide to find hope in adversity and depression. As a believer:
- You have been made right by faith in God so you have peace with him because of Jesus Christ;
- You now stand in a place of undeserved privilege with confident expectations of sharing God's glory;
- Even when you face trials or adversities, you can rejoice and be glad in the Lord;
- The adversities give you opportunities to develop endurance, strength of character, and then confident hope that will not lead to disappointment;
- Through this process, the love which is the fruit of the Spirit is poured in your heart, so you can dispense God's love lavishly and joyfully in the adverse situations.
Instead of reacting defensively in the challenging circumstances, the hope and love God pours in your heart enable you to see the underlying need of the person(s) who might be attacking you. As you do, ask God to make you a channel of his love in what could otherwise continue to be a situation of conflict and pain.
Allow God to give you a new understanding of the adverse conditions or the person(s) coming against you. Circumstances or people cannot hinder the purpose God has for you in any specific situation. The obstacle is your own disappointment that breeds resentment and could lead to bitter words, unloving actions. and lost hope in the challenging situations.
On the other hand, you can stand confidently in the truth that, "No one who hopes in you [Lord] will ever be put to shame ..." (Psalm 15:11, NIV). So your hope is anchored in the belief that it is possible to rise above your challenges, and that the best is yet to come.
The solid foundation for this kind of hope is found only in God, as you will see from Abraham's experience described below.
Keeping Hope Alive Poll
What situation in your life, you MOST need to keep hope alive in, at this time?
How Abraham's Hope Triumphed
Hope is defined as, "a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen" despite the odds. In the context of this definition, consider Abraham's response as outlined in the following verse:
"Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping--believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, "That's how many descendants you will have!"" (Romans 4:18, NLT).
Abraham did not give up hope even though everything in his circumstances seemed opposite to what God promised him. God promised that through his son, he would become the father of many nations. But Abraham and his wife Sarah were very old; Sarah was past childbearing age.
But Abraham kept hoping, "he never wavered in believing God's promise ... he was fully convinced that God is able to do what he promises" (vs. 20, 21), and he certainly was not disappointed. Abraham and Sarah had their son, Isaac.
Discover the Basis of Your Hope
Like Abraham, you need to know the basis of your hope. The following verses are just two of the reasons for your hope that will not disappoint:
- It is impossible for God to lie.
His Word emphatically states, "God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" (Numbers 23: 19, NLT).
- God is the wellspring of all hope.
Paul prayed, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13, NLT).
The hymn in the video below declares, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness." As you meditate on the verses above and sing the hymn, you could find that you sense a deep assurance of your hope that that is firmly grounded in Jesus Christ. You know that you will not be ashamed no matter what the circumstances are.
Hymn: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
Some say that our need for God is a "crutch" and that only weak people need God. But that's not true any more than our need for air and food is because we're weak.— Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend
How to Keep Hope Alive in Adversity
Here are seven steps to take in the process of keeping your hope in God alive in the midst of adversities:
- Repent for you own mistakes and failures in the situation(s). For believers, "if we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1: 9, NIV). According to Jack Hayford, respected Christian leader, a spirit of lifelong repentance helps us develop a mindset which keeps us available to renewal.
- Recognize the connection between hope and faith. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1, NASB). Read through and meditate on the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11.
- Ground your hope in the Word of God. This will only happen as you take time to meditate on God's Word day and night, Notice that is exactly what God instructed Joshua to do at a turning point in his life (Joshua 1:8)
- Keep focus on your life's vision. Hold on to the vision that is greater than you and your problem, one that is anchored in God's purpose for you life (Jeremiah 29:11).
- Promote unity and togetherness. Ask God for guidance and the power to build bridges in your family, with other believers, and your wider circles.
- Ask for a wise and discerning heart to find solutions. Consider King Solomon's request at the start of his reign (1 Kings 3:9).
- Develop resiliency to bounce back in spite of setbacks. This comes through learning from your failures or mistakes, and developing new creativity. Pray that the "eyes of your heart are enlightened" (Ephesians 1:17), so that you will experience fresh revelation, a sense of optimism, and see new possibilities.
Bible Quotes On Hope
- For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 11:29, NIV).
- Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. ..So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 16, 18, NIV),
- And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:5, NLT).
- I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13, NLT).
- But forget all that--it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland (Isaiah 43: 18-19, NLT).
Prayer to Keep Hope Alive
Father of all hope, I thank you that you are with me in these challenging times, and I have the deep assurance that you will never leave me. By your great power in me Lord, I experience your hope that will not disappoint. Thank you for using me as an instrument, so that the love that you so lavishly pour into my heart, is released in my sphere of influence. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
Song: God Will Make a Way!
Moving From Depression to Hope
You can move forward with the deep sense of "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27, NKJ). This strengthens your optimism, confident expectation and assurance that, "God will make a way."
As your character continues to develop, you release the life of God through your words and actions in the situations you are facing, and your life will genuinely reflect God's blessings and favor and hope again!.