Fighting for Joy

Thank you for joining us on this journey as we talk about depression. My dear friend Morgann Burres is going to finish out this 4-part series this week. Today, part 3, she is going to give us some practical tips on how to persevere when all seems hopeless and dark. I’m so thankful for her vulnerability with us, as well as her wisdom in pointing us to Jesus. 

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Last week we talked about some myths and the reality of depression. It’s not sugar-coated, and there’s no easy fix. However, I believe that there are things that we can do that help us to place our faith in God alone and be an effective part of the Body of Christ.

Depression is not something unfamiliar to those who know Christ. Seasons of darkness are normal. Some seasons last longer than others and some may never pass. But our obedience does not depend on how long each season is. David writes Psalm 40 as a cry to the Lord in one of these periods of darkness:

I waited patiently for the LORD;

He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

Out of the miry bog,

And set my feet upon a rock,

Making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

A song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

And put their trust in the LORD.

The first thing to do is cry out to the Lord. David cries to the Lord, and the Lord hears him. God is our Abba Father who longs to be in close relationship with us, His children. He wants to hear what’s on our hearts and He wants to carry our burdens. If you’re in a place of darkness, have you told God? By turning to the Lord in prayer, we show where our hope is found.

Ask him to reveal our sin to us. Hear me on this: I am NOT saying that depression is always a result of sin. I AM saying that when sin stands in the way of our relationship with the Lord, it affects our emotions, our mood and our worship. Repenting of our sin does not guarantee or even suggest that depression will lift, but remaining unrepentant guarantees challenges (1 Peter 3:7).

And then, we wait. David doesn’t say how long he waits. He doesn’t give God a deadline. But he waits patiently. As John Piper puts it, “I don’t mean that we make peace with darkness. We fight for joy. But we fight as those who are saved by grace and held by Christ.”

While waiting, let’s remind ourselves of the promises of God. Preach the truth to ourselves. Write it down, sing it in the car. It means believing things like, I am feeling like there is no hope, BUT GOD tells me that He is my hope (Psalm 62:5). I am feeling like I am alone in this world, BUT GOD says He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). My sadness is more than I can bear, BUT GOD promises to carry my burdens (Matthew 11:28). In this waiting “we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold Him” (Piper).

DO the hard things. Doing is often God’s appointed remedy for despair. Do the things you don’t want to do. It may be getting out of bed, taking a shower or cleaning a room. It may be asking someone for help, going to church or going for a walk and breathing in the fresh air. Waiting on God is not a period of inactivity. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

One of the hardest things we DO is joy. Joy does not simply happen. Joy is an act of obedience. We are commanded to be joyful: “Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16) even when we don’t feel like it. Every day, all day. We faithfully DO joy. And we do other things with joy as well – the cleaning, the getting out of bed, the making dinner. This is no easy task, I know; I fail at this frequently. But God is rich in grace and mercy and He forgives. So when we fail, we ask forgiveness, we move on and we go at it again.

Choose to be thankful. There are always, always, always things to be thankful for. It’s good to write them down in a journal or write them on slips of paper and put them in a jar on the counter. Thankfulness with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart. Voice these things. Tell others. Tell yourself.

And when the darkness lifts, be it in the life God grants us or when we see Him face to face, we praise Him forevermore. I can’t tell you when this will end. But I can tell you that God is here with you. And while you wait on the Lord, there are things that He has called you to do. DOING is the hardest thing when you’re dealing with depression because it’s in DOING that you allow Christ’s strength to be manifested in your weakness. And if Christ’s name is lifted high, then we, in our joy and in our pain, have every reason to be satisfied.

 

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Morgann Burres is a 22 year old newly married who currently lives in Salem, OR. She graduated from Azusa Pacific University, works for Youth Missions International, and has a huge heart for mentoring younger girls. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

 

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