French O'Shield's helpful book, Slaying of the Giant: Depression, reminds us that "distortion of reality is what depression is all about."
Chronically depressed people view themselves and the world in negative terms. Their world is filled with helpless, hopeless, no-way-out points of view. Such dark thoughts hide God's truths, which are the true realities. It is no wonder that depressed people often stay depressed.
Into our dark world, God's "good news" comes to reveal the truth about who we are, where we have been, what's going on in our lives now and what we can expect in the future, based on the realities spelled out in the Bible. The promises are truly good news: There is always hope for despairing people; there's release to those held captive in the prison of depression.
Life can change, can be different, provided we want it to be different, seek the help we need and believe that by God's grace and our hard work it can be different.
Long before we experience our literal resurrection from death, we rise to walk in newness of life in 1,001 different ways. You may fail at a task, but that does not mean you are a failure. You may make a bad decision or choice, but that's not the end of the story. We all make mistakes, and God promises to work through even our worst mistakes, failures and bad choices to make something good happen.
Once, when I was feeling like a failure in ministry, a wise person told me that I might have failed to realize sooner that I should have been going about my ministry in a different way or that I should consider another facet of ministry in which I had greater strengths. But, this person said, that was the only sense of failure I should feel.
To all people in all the times of their lives, especially those depressed and despairing, God speaks his promises through the prophet Isaiah:
"All you who lie in darkness ... stand up! Your new day is dawning. ... The glory of the Lord God wants to tell good news to all the oppressed ... to heal the broken-hearted ... to announce freedom for the prisoners and captives ... to comfort those who mourn and to give flowers in place of sorrows, olive oil in place of tears, and joyous praise in place of broken hearts."
Deliverance from depression and despair requires that we change our way of thinking. God says that we are unique, special and precious in his sight. We are to look at ourselves in the mirror and affirm: I am unique, special and of great value in God's plans for where I live, work, and play. God has blessed me with certain talents to make this world a better place to live.
How can you stop thinking negative thoughts? We can avoid bringing up the subject again. We can choose not to affirm such thoughts by verbalizing them and not to allow such negative thinking to have such tremendous, magical power and influence over the way we see ourselves and the world.
Allow God's positive messages to become a part of the very core of your being. As long as you are alive, God has a way of using the unique gifts he has given you.
God is not through with us yet. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future, and we expect to be a part of that future, however God wills to use us.
Dr. Gene Norris is a local Presbyterian minister who now serves as a marriage and family therapist.
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