This is Part 2 of the Hope in the Midst of Depression series.
Philippians 4:8 (NIVB) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Friend to Friend
Let’s review yesterday’s devotion. Mary Winkler – a pastor’s wife — was accused of murdering her husband. My emotions stumbled over each other as anger warred with compassion, confusion with condemnation and justice with mercy. Then it happened. Mary Winkler raised her face slightly, long enough for me to gaze into hauntingly familiar eyes, eyes filled with emptiness and darkness. While I can neither condone nor fully understand the actions of Mary Winkler, I can understand the road that brought her to the dark place where she felt her only option was to commit a heinous crime. The pit of clinical depression is a place of devastation — the playground of Satan and the forces of hell. In 1995, I found myself sitting at the bottom of that same dark pit, desperate for God, pleading for deliverance. After a lot of painful emotional work, fierce spiritual warfare and complete brokenness, I finally stepped into the light. I learned many truths while sitting at the bottom of that pit, but one of the most important treasures God gave me in the darkness has revolutionized my life in the light. We can change the way we live by changing the way we think.
Recognize the power of thoughts.
Proverbs 23:7 says it this way: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB).
Know God’s standard for our thought life.
· First standard: true thoughts
· Second standard: noble thoughts
“Right” literally means “conformity to God’s standards” and comes from the same root word as “righteous”. Our world majors in gray standards, running from those things that are black and white, trying to rationalize away truth! Right thinking is neither gray nor borderline. It does not ride a spiritual fence but willingly conforms to God’s standards. We must make a choice about the control of our thought life. If we do not choose the power of God to control our mind, we will become double-minded and unstable. James warns us with these words: James 1: 8 (NIV) “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” The New Living Translation says it this way: “They can’t make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.” E. Stanley Jones states that “if you don’t make up your mind, then your unmade mind will unmake you.”
When an immigrant comes to America, before he can become a citizen, he must renounce all of his commitments and allegiance to his former homeland and pledge one hundred percent allegiance to America. Then, and only then, will he be granted American citizenship. While we have come to Christ and are citizens of heaven, our thought life still smells of hell…our old homeland!
We allow our minds to drift. We do not take charge of our thinking processes. We are undisciplined mentally. Undisciplined thinking will always flows to our greatest weaknesses. The human mind will always set itself on something! We just have to decide what the setting will be. A mind filled with wrong thinking becomes fertile soil for temptations of all kind.
A woman was married to a miser who never wanted her to spend any money. One day she told him she was going window-shopping! He said, “Look, but don’t buy!” A few hours later, she came home with a new dress! “What is this?” her husband asked. She explained, “Well, I saw this dress and thought I’d just try it on for fun. When I did the devil said, “It sure looks good on you!” Her husband said, “Right then you should have told him, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” “I did,” she answered. “But when he got behind me he said, “Honey, it looks even better from the back!”
We laugh about temptation! We have become flippant about sin. We need to understand that the goal of the enemy is the total destruction of our lives! James 1: 14-15 tells us “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.” Satan wants us to stay in the pit. Darkness is his specialty. He delights in peering over the edge of the pit, mocking and taunting us, admiring his handiwork. The battle against him and against depression is first waged in the mind. Many times our thought life is an open invitation to the enemy! We need to renounce those old ways of thinking. We need to choose against wrong thinking and actively pursue right thoughts. When we do, darkness flees and light comes!
Father, this darkness is so heavy. Some days, I just want to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and tell the world to go away. I am lonely and so tired. Still, I choose to believe You. You are my only hope. I put my trust in You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s Your Turn
Consider the truth that our thoughts always flow to our greatest weaknesses. What does that statement really mean in your life?
Re-visit the basic truths wrapped in the death, burial, resurrection and second coming of Jesus Christ. When the dark thoughts come, hold each one against the backdrop of these truths. Evaluate the difference this “eternal backdrop” makes in your thought life.
If you are battling depression, don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry out for help. Read Psalm 40:1-3 as God’s promise to you!