On Monday, I shared some insights from the book, Defeating Depression by Leslie Vernick. Wednesday, I shared a Biblical example of Elijah. Today is the last part of this "series" on Depression. (I would encourage you to read this book, if you are interested in learning more.)
When Elijah was depressed, he withdrew from people, yet God never lost track of him and cared for him. Even in our darkest moments, we can be sure that God knows and cares about us. When Elijah shared his feelings with God, he then listened to what God said back to him.
Talking with God (prayer) is always a dialogue. It's the listening part that is so hard for me - the listening and the really believing it part. Oh, I can read it, but then I ask, "Is this really true for ME?"
Jesus repeatedly said that He is the truth and that His words are truth, but do we really believe Him?
Leslie Vernick, in Defeating Depression, gives two questions that we should ask ourselves:
· Would you feel different today if you really believed God loved you with His whole heart and deeply longed for you to love Him back?
· Would you see yourself and your life more hopefully if you believed that He has a plan for your life that is good and for your good, even through this depression?
We may believe things with our heads, but not really believe them in our hearts. Unbelief is one of the reasons that Israelites missed out on God's blessings. (Hebrews 3:19)
"Connecting in a personal, heartfelt way to God is one of the most potent things you can do to feel hopeful when life is painful," Vernick writes.
How do we do this?
There are many ways to listen to God. Probably one of the best ways is to read portions of the Bible and reflect on them. This requires being still before God. Vernick says that she even visualizes Jesus coming and sitting in a chair next to her. Writing out her feelings in a journal helps to get things out. Then she reads a passage of Scripture - maybe a whole chapter, maybe just a couple of verses - reading until something speaks to her. Then she says that she imagines Jesus gently asking, "Do you believe me?"
This is often hard to do on our good days, but it is especially hard to read and reflect when depression is camping in our house. But I've found that slowing down to hear God's voice can give me the faith and what I need to keep going. There are other ways to hear God --- sometimes I listen to quiet music, sometimes I go through the hymnal and play the old hymns paying attention to the words, sometimes I re-read my journal and remember God's faithfulness. The key is focusing on God and who He is and what He can do. Connecting with God in a meaningful way gives me hope and renewed faith.
Elijah's experience with depression shows that it can happen to anyone, even the most spiritually minded. His story reminds us that God cares. God, first, took care of Elijah's physical needs with adequate rest and food (a good starting place), but then He personally spoke to Elijah. God is there for us, we must not isolate ourselves from Him. He is waiting to reassure you of His love, His plan for you.
Do you believe that?