I’m not a naturally upbeat person who’s got a pep in her step. Melancholy is more my bent. So the idea of being a joyful person eluded me for many years when I was a young Christ-follower. Coming out of a deep dark pit of atheism I had my fair share of depression struggles and suicidal thoughts, but once I found the Light my heart was filled with hope.
But one day, it felt like the light went out.
Depression has been my uninvited traveling companion on and off for years. I am well acquainted with her and the dark cloud she brings to my life. Yet, as a believer in Christ, the last thing I want to be is a depressed disciple.
Not realizing that my body was physically out of balance because my hormones were out of balance, I was faced with ongoing depression. Like clockwork, depression showed up on my doorstep each month. After a time, she left my heart and mind only to show up again the following month. Nothing I did could make her go away until I got help to balance my body.
When we lost our house and business, my soul was depressed again, but it wasn’t due to physical imbalances. My depression was for emotional reasons based on my disheartening circumstances.
Hope starts to escape us when life feels like it will never get better and then the next thing you know depression rears its ugly head and blows out the flickering light of joy we hold in our hearts.
Over the years I’ve learned that I deal with *two different types of depression. One is physiological and the other is circumstantial. To help me know the difference, I ask myself this question:
If my circumstances were different, would my mood be different?
A chemical imbalance that causes depression is not the same type of depression due to life’s disappointing and discouraging circumstances.
Know your depression. Get acquainted with it so you can put it to death when it shows up again. (Obviously, if you are dealing with physiological issues, head to a doctor and get the help you need. There is no shame in this. For example, a woman who just gave birth may experience postpartum depression, thus, her hormones are out of balance affecting her mental health.)
In this post, I’m going to address finding joy when you’re dealing with circumstantial depression. Anything that brings deep sadness and disappointment to your heart, which then leads to depression, would be my definition of circumstantial depression. Examples would be a financial loss, broken relationships, debilitating health, a wayward child, death of a loved one, devastating news, etc.
When depression enters your soul, she crushes your joy, and you’re left feeling like a defeated disciple rather than a victorious one. And being that I want to be a strong woman of God, over the years I’ve sought out ways to make sure I find my joy in Jesus and not in my circumstances.
Circumstances are always changing, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
But when pain rains down hard, I need God’s ever-present comfort before I can experience His joy. And there is no other book in the Bible that brings my soul comfort like the book of Psalms. To hear the psalmist David cry out to God day and night makes me feel like I’m not alone in my anguish. So when your soul needs comfort, camp out in the book of Psalms. It’s where we’re headed today to find joy.
Sound Doctrine for a Depressed Soul
1. Jesus is the antidepressant for your depressed soul.
Stay close to Him and remain in His Word. This is where your help comes from.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:11
2. Stay connected to a community of believers.
Be mindful of the fact that isolation breeds depression.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people. Psalm 22:22
3. Serve the Lord.
This little step helps me to be others-focused rather than self-focused. And if I’m too busy being about my Father’s business, I don’t have time to coddle my depression.
Serve the Lord with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11
4. Tweak your perspective on the pain you’ve experienced and seek to use your suffering for God’s glory.
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. Psalm 71:20.
5. Be patient in the healing process.
Run towards God’s comfort and let His word minister to your heart. Embrace the scriptures. Write them down. Hold them close to your heart.
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3
6. Find something in your life to thank God for.
Anytime I’m focused on my pain, it’s hard for me to feel joyful.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:1
7. Ask yourself where or who you’re putting your hope in.
This line of questioning always points my heart and mind back to Christ. It’s my emotional reality check.
Be strong, and let your heart be courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24
8. Make an intentional act of your will to rejoice in the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)
Here’s the same verse in the New Living Translation…
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4
9. Listen to praise and worship music.
Music for the soul is what I like to call it. Just hearing songs that point straight back to Christ can lift my countenance.
Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD. Psalm 89:15
10. Go to church on a regular basis.
Anytime I’m at church, my soul gets ministered to whether it’s through worship, the Word, or by being with others. Even when my flesh would rather stay at home, I make the choice to go to church anyway.
I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1
Want to dive deeper into the book of Psalms? Check out this new Bible study, Discovering Hope in the Psalms co-authored by my friend, Pam Farrell.
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Explore God’s Word on a deeper level and engage with his truth in fresh ways! This study on select psalms of hope invites you beneath the surface to discover the incredible design and purpose of this inspired Hebrew poetry.
Perfect for group discussion or personal reflection, Discovering Hope in the Psalms offers valuable teachings, motivating devotions, and a multitude of creative options for interacting with the ten psalms covered—including beautiful artwork to color.
These psalms will show you how to…
- recall the Lord’s care when you find you’re in need
- rejoice in God’s mercy when sin knocks you down
- rest in God’s goodness when life seems unfair
- request help with hope when dark troubles abound
- respond with thanksgiving for all answered prayers
More in this series:
Live a poured out life for Christ,
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*Spiritual oppression is another type of depression but this topic is beyond the scope of this blog post.