Luis Palau Association
Freedom from Depression

20 May 2014

Freedom from Depression

Posted in Articles, Spiritual Growth

I've come across several teenagers lately who are depressed. It really shakes me up! These kids are in the prime of their life and yet they are bogged down by chains of gloom, fear, and discouragement.

When one is depressed, darkness reigns inside. I'm no psychiatrist, but I see it everywhere. Adults of every age are suffering, too. It can really knock the wind out of you to consider the sheer number of people who daily live in this reality. It is not of the Lord. The Bible says: "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Because He is light and love, He certainly wants us in the light with Him!

So, what are we to do?

I take great comfort and find specific direction for overcoming depression in Psalm 23. (And, no, this Psalm is not just for funerals! Unfortunately, it has that reputation. But it is, in fact, wisdom for everyday life.) Let's observe it together and find God's guidance for living free from chains of discouragement. Together, let's find freedom in God's marvelous light.

Psalm 23:1 – "The LORD is my shepherd."

Notice the word "is." This verse does not say, "I hope the Lord will be my shepherd," nor does it say, "It would be nice if..." Rather, it says that the Lord IS my shepherd. He is present, right now, as my skillful guide. Worries focus on the unknowns of the future, but when we stay present we find the Lord Jesus Christ right by our side, guiding patiently as a shepherd does.

Also note the word "my." God is personal. He is mine. I need not take my woes to anyone else, but instead I go right to Him. When we meditate on the reality of His present, personal nature, we come to realize that we are exactly where we need to be... and we are covered. The rest of verse 1 states, "I lack nothing." Or, "I have everything I need."

This is not "Christianese". It is truth. We are in the care of a skillful Shepherd who loves us. This truth can revolutionize our mental outlook!

Psalm 23: 2 – "He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters."

Sometimes the reason why we're depressed is that we are madly rushing about. The pace of a modern life can be frantic. Instead of letting God lead us by still waters (a place of quietness and peace and provision), we dash from here to there. Sometimes we just need a break! It's what the Lord wants to give us as we look to Him as our Source of life.

In all practicality, how do we actually let God lead us beside quiet waters? The image helps us realize that what we need is to calm down, to rest. How do we get there when we are worked up? I suggest writing it down. It sounds simple, and it is. When you take a pen to what ails you, you can see it for what it is. As we write, our worries become clear. Were you criticized? Write it down. Finances tight? Write it down. Look at your problems on paper and present them to the Lord. Be honest. Confess you don't know what to do about your problems and ask Him to respond. The temptation will be there to talk to someone else about it, but take it first to the Lord.

After you share your heart, take the time to listen. This soul restoration can happen very quickly. It doesn't have to take years and years.

Psalm 23: 3 – "He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake."

In other words, God does not want us to be depressed. He is saying, "I don't want you fussing, fearful, wringing your hands, etc. For MY sake I want to guide you in straight paths of righteousness. I want you to be who you were meant to be – a person of peace, of joy, someone filled with the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit."

You see, God is light (1 John 1:5) and He is love (1 John 4:16). He guides us along right paths for His glory and our benefit. That is the path that He is on. He wants us with Him. As His followers, we must choose joy (Philippians 4:4), even when it's challenging. For in that place we walk with Him and enjoy His presence.

Psalm 23: 4 – "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

The King James Version reads, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." When we are bound by chains of gloom and depression, we feel like life is over... like death has swallowed us. We have zero hope. Everything around us bears no promise of a brighter future. We feel trapped.

But guess what? Jesus Christ is the one who raises the dead! He conquered death Himself! He specializes in doing what is humanly impossible (Matthew 19:26). When things are darkest and you see no way out, the truth is that there is always a way out. You cannot see the whole picture simply because you are human. Jesus says, "I am the way" (John 14:6). With Christ, there is always a way!

So how do you get out of the grips of fear and darkness? Every word counts in this verse. Note that: "for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." The answer is for(because) you (the Lord God almighty) are (presently) with me (my personal companion).THIS is how you conquer depression and move into God's marvelous light!

Psalm 23:5 – "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies."

Who are your enemies? Really, the only enemies we have are Satan and his demons. They are the ones who plant ideas of doom and gloom. They plant seeds of doubt, prompting us to ask, "Does God really care about me?" He did it with Eve. He does it to this day. Satan is the prince of darkness, and when Christians are overtaken by doubt, it is Satan's doing. Cynicism is his natural language.

When we first become aware of the clutches of depression, we need to turn to God and say, "Lord, this is not of you! Come to my aid!"

What this verse is saying is that God prepares a place for us, not sheltered from our enemies so that we might feel protected from them, but in the very same room with our enemies! Because the truth is that they hold no power over us. We can take a stand and refuse to let Satan bind us. How? Because Jesus already defeated him! We can say with confidence, "In the name of Jesus Christ, you are overcome, Satan. I am not going to be fearful. Christ defeated you on the cross. He is alive. And He lives in me!" Therein is our hope and our ticket to freedom: Christ's blood shed on the cross for me and for you.

Psalm 23:5b – "You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."

The oil being spoken of here is the Holy Spirit. When He fills us to overflowing, we can take a stand against our enemies. We can refuse to allow Satan to bind us. We declare with boldness, "I am not going to be fearful or sit in the darkness. I have more than enough ("my cup overflows") in Jesus Christ!"

Psalm 23:6 – "Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Can it get any better than that? When we walk with Christ, goodness and love come along as our companions. They affirm us and open doors to the blessings God longs to give us. And to know that our home, our dwelling place, is with our Father both now in heaven... that is security as nothing on this earth can ever provide. We look forward with confidence to the future.

Psalm 23 is a fantastic Psalm. Many of us learn it as kids. It's so simple, so basic. We must never let it go. It's for everyday life today. When you are struggling and overcome with darkness, go to Psalm 23. God's promises are real and they are true.

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