09 April 2007

Depression & the Spirit of God

As a result of my bipolar disorder I have written extensively about how I have battled the depression side of the equation. You have also noticed how richly I speak of the Lord in many of my posts. I’ve had people challenge me by saying that if I really did believe in God, that he would heal me of this disorder and I wouldn’t have to take all of these medications.

Granted, I will be the first to tell you that I believe in divine intervention and the healing of the sick when all else has proved impossible. Why some are cured and others are not is not my place to say. But I also do not believe in fleecing God (there is a passage in the Old Testament—Judges 7:36-40—where Gideon is to be used by God to rescue Israel as He promised, he decided to test God twice. The first time he set out a layer of fleece and told God if it was wet with dew the following morning and the surrounding land was dry, he would surely know that God was going to help Gideon rescue Israel. The next morning, that is exactly what happened. But then Gideon had to see one more sign from God, despite the numerous miracles he had already seen to date, before he was willing to commit to battle and have the assurance that God would be with him. This time he requested that the fleece remain dry while the countryside was covered in dew, and this occurred as well the following morning.). I believe that if it is God’s intentions to heal me of my bipolar disorder, I will discern that within my Spirit. I am not simply going off my medications to prove anything at all. I also realize that God works mightily through doctors and medicines. So, for the time being I continue my better living through chemistry.

I believe that God has quite a lot to say in the Bible about depression, passages that I have read, but ones that I should re-read and become intimately aware of, and to assign ownership of that knowledge. Too often, I have entertained myself in a pity party, yet there have been many times when I have been in very dark spaces that were quite a dangerous playground in which to be playing. As I have postulated before, depression for me is not about having a bad hair day, but a state in which there is utter hopelessness.

It almost seems like an oxymoron to have such strong beliefs in God, yet at the same time experience this hopelessness. However, I don’t believe that, when I am in this state, I am fully aware and cognizant of the power I behold through the name of Jesus. I know that the enemy has used this state of mind to confound me and put me in very dangerous positions, positions that nearly ended my life--some fairly recently.

I believe very strongly in the words of God found in the Bible. I believe that each and every word is from God. So I should, during these moments of clarity, take advantage and see exactly what God's promises are to me in regard to my depression.

Psalm 34:17 states that “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles”

I believe in this passage that when I cry out to the Lord, He hears me and understands exactly how I am feeling. During the years that Jesus spent on this earth as a man, he suffered the same plights that each of us must endure every day and knows intuitively what we are going through. As a result, God feels exactly what our own hearts feel. He is a tender, loving Father that wishes nothing but the best for His children. I should take joy in these words as they tell me that I am not all alone.

Isaiah 43:2 says “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown, when you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

This leads me to believe once again that I am not alone. There is nothing more disheartening when I am depressed to feel so alone in this world. It only compounds the emotional pain. This passage also reminds us that God may not necessarily remove us from the storm we are weathering, but He does promise to steadfastly be with us. With God on our side, who can be against us?

1 Peter 4:12-13 says “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials that you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”

This isn’t to say or indicate that we should be glad for our sorrows and tribulations, but, face it, what on earth could we ever go through that could even come close to the tribulations that Christ went through just for us. I am overwhelmed at the enormity of the suffering that He allowed himself to withstand because He knew it was His Father’s will. That puts my own suffering a quite a different perspective. To be able to sing of God’s praises in the midst of the storm is perhaps one of the most moving of all testimonies

Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high like wings on eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

This one is a little harder for me to wrap my hands around. When I am in the pits of my depression, waiting is not something I am very good at doing, but knowing what I have to look forward to on the other side is what gives me the hope to sustain that faith. This speaks directly to the strength that faith brings to each of us.

2 Cor 1:3,4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort that God has given us.”

What a testimony we have for others when we have walked through the fire and have been delivered by God’s own mercy and grace. Sometimes, the only way to witness to someone else is to let them know you have walked in the very same shoes they are walking in now. Sometimes the only people we will listen to are the ones who truly do understand what we are going through because we have been there ourselves. It’s not enough to preach the Good News when people are in this space, but to get down on their level and reach out with a comforting hand is like offering a sip of cold water to someone who is parched in the desert.

Romans 8:38, 39: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The image I have in my head when I read this scripture above is of a person hanging onto a pole for dear life while the wind is whipping all over the place and being battered by the force of the wind. I may feel battered, in fact, I may feel beat up quite badly, but knowing that nothing can ever separate me from God gives me that solace I need when everything else seems to be blowing away.

Phil 4:8: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

In other words, regardless of what our circumstances appear to be at any given moment in the depths of our despair, we know we have walked upright and righteously with the Lord at one point prior to this fall into depression and we have to hold onto those moments until we can navigate through the quicksand

Being bipolar and a mighty soldier of Christ can bring on a mixed bag of events. While we can, we have the ability to move mountains and lay claim to our heritage as being one of God’s precious children. However, as pointed out previously, there is nothing better that the enemy wants to do but divide you from your relationship with Christ. I do believe the enemy uses our own weaknesses to his own advantage, which is why we must be vigilant at all times. One of the scriptures in the Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing. And, it is in these darkest of moments when I have to be able to reach out to God and grab on and not let go, knowing He is right there by my side.

I have to decide now whether I have the spiritual courage to be that mature Soldier of Christ and take ownership of all of God’s promises, or do I stay in this safe little corner hiding until the next round of depression comes upon me and become a spineless creature susceptible to all of the enemy’s efforts at weakening my defenses? A lot of this is easy for me to say these things right now as I am not in the pits of despair, but all the more reason for writing this down so I have this to go back to and read when I need it the most.

Do I wish I could be cured of my bipolar disorder? Of course I do. I hate the thought of knowing I have to depend upon medications for the rest of my life in order to maintain my sanity. However, I look to what I have been given as a child of God which makes all things of this world pale in comparison. None of us are promised a burden-free life. It is our responsibility to handle what is thrown our way. So, which path will you walk down where the rubber meets the road? I would like to think that I have matured in my walk with the Lord, even if only a little bit, that will give me so much more strength for when the times come for me to draw upon that strength.©2007

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