Have you ever experienced depression? Many people go through a period of life when external factors impact their mood for a short time, while others deal with long-term clinical depression, diagnosed by a physician and requiring maintenance for a lifetime. In either case, depression can affect every part of life, making even small tasks seem insurmountable.
The pain of depression can sometimes seem to take over, causing people to turn to different coping mechanisms to find comfort. Some turn to alcohol, others use food, and, in extreme cases, some harm themselves in hopes of finding relief from their emotional pain. None of these are healthy options, and while they might promise temporary consolation, they never follow through with the lasting contentment that someone with depression is searching for. In fact, these coping mechanisms prove that depression is not simply a “disorder” with a quick fix. No, depression is a deep, complex issue that requires the understanding of the spiritual battle we all are engaged in daily.
Has depression threatened to take control over your life?
Has it already taken over and left you feeling defeated, useless, and worthless? Not long ago, I was there, too. I was completely defeated, believing the lie that I was a worthless person who wasn’t “good enough.” After consulting with my doctor and Biblical counselor, I was able to make some positive changes. The thing that really changed for me, though, was learning how to combat the very real evil in the world. I learned the value of my identity in Christ and the power of understanding His love for me. Ultimately, I have begun to learn that depression does not have to control my life because of who I am in Christ.
The scary thing about depression is that Satan wants it to control my life. The more time I spend drowning in horrible thoughts about myself and worrying about how many other people notice my flaws, the less time I spend being productive for God’s Kingdom. When I focus on the overwhelming feelings and my powerlessness against them, I can’t love others as much as I love myself (Mark 12:31), make disciples (Matthew 28:19), or glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This is great news for Satan. He loves anything that can take down a believer or hurt their testimony.
This means that depression is not strictly a medical or physical issue. While it clearly has physical implications that affect everyday life, it is much deeper than that. Depression truly is a battle. My selfish heart and always-changing feelings are no match for Satan’s practiced lies.
When I find myself so depressed that I physically feel numb, Satan whispers, “Go ahead, just _______. It’ll make you feel better.” So I do. Afterward, the guilt and pain are worse than ever. Immediately, Satan laughs and begins to mock me. “Seriously? You’re supposed to be a Christian. How can you be a Christian if you think _____ will make things better? You’re dumber than I thought. God wouldn’t love a failure like you.”
No matter how hard I try, I can’t pull myself out of my depression. The harder I try to do better or change my own feelings, the worse I fail. Thus, the cycle continues, and I fall further into depression each time.
All of this talk about Satan and spiritual warfare sounds a little scary, maybe even crazy. But I believe that many, many Christians are truly struggling to experience victory and instead are feeling defeated and crushed.
In his book Victory Over the Darkness, Dr. Neil T. Anderson speaks about the power of a believer understanding their identity in Christ. You may have heard the phrases “living triumphantly” or “having victory” in Christian circles. I’ve heard them my whole life, but I always thought they were a little bit cheesy. After reading this book, though, I have begun to understand the power Dr. Anderson is referring to. It is so easy to believe the lies that Satan and my sinful heart tell me over and over. With the power of Christ, I can experience real freedom from those lies and live a God-honoring life.
I’d like to share with you three things from Dr. Anderson’s book that have helped me to experience victory in my daily battle with depression. These thoughts may be very familiar to you, but learning to “preach” them to myself and understanding the magnitude of them has been incredible.
1) I am saved.
As a believer, this might seem obvious. Being saved is crucial to living a victorious life in Christ. Sometimes, going back to the basics is precisely where we need to be. Dr. Anderson describes the identity of a Christian in a way that inspired me:
“A Christian, in terms of his or her deepest identity, is a saint, a spiritually born child of God, a divine masterpiece, a child of light, a citizen of heaven. Being born again transformed you into someone who didn’t exist before. What you receive as a Christian isn’t the point; it is who you are. It is not what you do as a Christian that determines who you are; it is who you are that determines what you do.”
Wow! Reading through that paragraph was so encouraging to me. Remembering who I am because of my salvation helps me to have victory over my depression. I will make mistakes, but if I can remember who I am, I will want to make choices that align with what God wants.
2) I am loved.
Did you know that God loves you? Have you really sat down and thought about it? People change, let us down, and hurt us. Feelings change, even multiple times in a day. But do you know what doesn’t change? God’s love. Even if you have a terrible day, you can’t get out of bed, and you make 100 mistakes, God loves you. Is it because you are amazing and deserve the world? No, it is because of who God is.
Dr. Anderson writes, “No matter what you do or how you fail, God will still love you because the love of God is not dependent on its object; it is dependent upon His character.”
We see this also in 1 John 4:16, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
3) I am significant.
Many times when I am feeling depressed, I believe the lie that I am insignificant and worthless. In his book, Dr. Anderson lists verse after verse to prove that as a believer, I am significant to God! Here are a few:
John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
2 Corinthians 6:1 “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
Ephesians 3:11-12 “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.”
Whether you experience depression or not, understand that every Christian is fighting in this spiritual battle. In my battle with depression, realizing my identity in Christ, recognizing God’s immense love for me, and knowing the significance of my role as a Christian have helped me to experience victory over the lies that threaten to leave me defeated.
McKenzie Hollingsworth lives in Allendale with her family. She met her husband Bradley on a dating website and they've been smitten ever since! They stay busy at home with their active son. McKenzie works at an outpatient medical facility. Her passion is sharing God's love by caring for others. She loves spending time with her family, baking treats for anyone who walks in the door, and going on dates with Bradley.