During a session of Ministry training, I’ll never forget these words from the instructor:
“You’ll never look into the eyes of someone who has not experienced great pain and sorrow.”
Recently, God has placed on my heart to write about this, to offer hope and encouragement, and hopefully instruction on how to deal with what has become such a problem in our society. Maybe it’s because I have encountered, first-hand, people we know and love who have been having a real battle with depression. Whether it’s been friends who have come to us just to talk, or Carol and I recently praying with someone in their driveway, this matter of depression has really come into focus for us.
First, I don’t discount the fact that I know that this is, in reality, a real “battle.” The very definition of the word “battle” sums it up pretty well: “A hostile encounter or engagement between opposing forces; participation in such hostile encounters or engagements; a fight; any conflict or struggle; to work very hard or struggle; to strive.” How about this for a definition: “A battle is a prolonged and general conflict pursued to a definite decision.” That one really speaks to me, as it envisions something that isn’t “gotten over” or won quickly … that it is, even in itself, a continuing process … plus, it has the word “pursue” and the phrase “definite decision.” This tells me that a battle, which this is, can be won, but it may take time … and a continual decision to “beat it.”
Here is one example of this “process:”
A person who turns away from their faith: That person just doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to backslide, and then turn their back on God. That person has been “gotten to” by the enemy, and chances are … it’s something they have been thinking about for a long time … the enemy is there, taking every opportunity to work on the mind of that person … until that person is no longer under their own control … but, has succumbed to the wiles of the enemy ….
Please keep in mind that I have been in the situation where I have physically taken the gun out of someone’s hand … and I have been in the situation where I got there too late.
If we are a Christian, other people will know it. And, they will seek us out when they are going through a struggle or battle with something. Sometimes, the best thing we can do, especially when someone first approaches us, is, simply, just keep our mouth shut … and listen. The compassion we show by just listening, quietly, will carry much weight, and will often lead to other witnessing and opportunities, which may be the whole reason that they were led to you in the first place. The best example I can think of is when someone is grieving over the loss of a loved one. Just the fact that you are there … the fact that you cared enough to just listen to them … this makes an impression they will never forget.
So, every day, I pray that God will help me to think the right thing, do the right thing, and speak the right thing. Depression can be as much a thought process as positive thinking. They both work, pretty much, the same way. What we think about comes about. If there is one area where our enemy seeks his greatest control, it is in our mind … our thoughts. If Satan can control our thoughts, he can control our actions. Period. If we allow Satan in, he will take every opportunity to gain control. Slowly at first, and then … if left unchecked … he’s got you!
That said, victory can be ours … and in exactly the same way: If we allow Jesus, through the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts … the Holy Spirit can control our actions … and, if we will allow Him, Jesus will take every opportunity … He will give us every opportunity … to allow Him to have control in our lives …
There seems to be many, many verses I can use … all making the same point … that we are, every day, in a battle, a real war, between our flesh and the Spirit … I can paraphrase this battle by saying that, every moment of every day, Satan is trying to gain control of our mind … meaning to gain control of our actions … while, at the exact same moment, the Holy Spirit is trying to lead us in the other direction … make no mistake … this is a real, all-out war, and “to the victor goes the spoils.” That may sound over-simple, but, that’s really all it amounts to. Who will win? Who will we let win? The spoils of this war are our very souls.
Satan is a jerk, and he is a liar. His only mission is to “kill, steal, and destroy.” He doesn’t want your car! He doesn’t want your job! He wants your joy! Why??? Because … that’s where your strength is!!! The joy of the Lord is our strength … if he can take that away … to a certain degree, he has already won! If he can take your mind … he has already taken you. If he can steal your joy … he can destroy. I hate that that
Why do you think one of Satan’s greatest weapons is depression? He knows that if he can begin to sap your strength … it’s only a matter of time (and-he is willing to wait it out!) before you will start doubting … doubting what you know to be true … because, if he can begin to control your mind … he can begin to replace what you know to be the truth … with a lie … then, he’s got you! You will start believing a lie, then another lie … and then, you’ll have him believing that you will believe anything he tells you … especially about yourself … and, as a kicker … about what others say about you … in particular, what you are worth …
Satan is the master of what I call “the domino effect.” One thing leads to another … he knocks down one barrier … then another … then another … until you can’t control it … because you have allowed yourself to be controlled … then, it all comes tumbling down, and you can’t stop it, because your “line of dominoes” have piled so heavily upon each other …
And, it’s not just you he wants … here’s the real “killer” to the domino effect: If he can make you fall … think of all those whom your life affects and effects … if he can get you to fall … perhaps that can start a whole row …
I didn’t plan on writing this way, and, in fact, I haven’t looked at my notes yet …
However, I am reminded that to win a war … we must first know the enemy …
What Paul called “the wiles of the devil.”
The real problem is that with real depression, we will dwell on certain thoughts …
Dwell on certain thoughts … which will lead to certain actions …
Often, when I am speaking or preaching, I will, somewhere near the beginning, advise the audience that, while I’m there, I thought I would just go ahead and solve the whole world’s problems. I ask if they’d mind if I told them the solution to every problem in the world. I then ask them if they would be willing to repeat just four words … just four words that would solve the whole world’s problems. Here goes:
“The world needs Jesus.”
“The world needs Jesus.”
Now, repeat just these three words:
“I need Jesus.”
“I need Jesus.”
The real problem with the world today is that the world needs Jesus.
This victory over depression is a victory over your mind.
Who controls it?
I don’t have to ask about your actions.
Whoever controls the mind controls the actions.
When someone does not have the Indwelling Holy Spirit to fight this battle over the mind … over their mind … who is there who can fight the enemy? Without Jesus, the battle has already been won … it’s only a matter of time …
I pray that you will pray for those who don’t have this Help … that God will use you to get there in time … He can save them … He can help them … Please allow Him to lead you … to them … And, to lead them … to you …
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