Spiritual Depression – Fear Of The Future

We are all born different, aren’t we. It is one way we see the wondrous workings of God; all made differently yet able to be so unified in belief, thought, action, heart, and mind. When we think of the future, some are excited, some are worried, some are paralysed with fear, some are confused, so, what do we do?

Importantly, we need to distinguish between thinking about the future well, and worrying about the future unnecessarily. Lloyd-Jones writes that there is a difference between ‘legitimate forethought and paralysing forethought‘. One allows a farmer to plow the field and sow his seed, the other can lead us to a paralysed present because of what-if worries. 

We have talked before about leaving the past in the past, but also just as true is worrying about a future we cannot control. Many times in Scripture we see this idea of ‘think about today, today, and let tomorrow be tomorrow‘ (Matthew 6.25-34 for example). 

When fear of the future strikes us, which it inevitably does despite the varied makeups of our character including those who seem to be unruffled and steadfastly sure, where do we look?

“…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1.7

The Spirit of power is that which raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8.11), and this power now indwells you as a fully regenerate born-again believer. Now, this is not to say you can go around resurrecting people, but, this needs to be a constant reminder that we give ourselves – the Holy Spirit lives in me, God has given me a spirit not of fear, but of power.

When we are tempted to worry about an unknown future, we must commit our unknown future to a known God as Corrie Ten Boom said. The Spirit of love allows us to know that we are loved by God Most High, that we take the focus off self-love, self-care, self-protection and rest in the fact that the Spirit of love surrounds us, cares for us, and will protect us even from ourselves.

The Spirit of self-control gives us, seemingly miraculously for some, the ability to soak in God’s Word, to understand the timeless truths therein, and to internalise this so deeply that when troubles come, when trials cross our paths, we have a mind that is so saturated with the Word and the truths of God that we can maintain control and not veer off into unnecessary future worry.   

“…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1.7

Lloyd-Jones closes the discussion on future fears like this,

…to those who are particularly prone to spiritual depression through…fear of the future, I say in the Name of God…talk to yourself, remind yourself of what is true…remind yourself of who you are and what you are, and of what Spirit is within you…and you will be able to go steadily forward, fearing nothing, living in the present, ready for the future, with one desire only, to glorify Him who gave His all for you.

Surrounded (Fight My Battles)

Some worship songs are so theologically rich and full of weighty substance that they simply must be sung in corporate worship when the church gathers together. Others are wonderful examples of Ephesians 5.19-21 wherein we read that we are to encourage one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.

Surrounded is a great example of an encouraging song that we can take into the day on repeat in our head to make melody to the Lord.

There are basically two lyrics sung over,

This is how I fight my battles

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

The song represents the victory that we have over our battles before we know the earthly outcome by trusting that God is going before us and He wins (NRT). This is how we fight our battles.

We can face our daily battles with more courage and strength because we know that the outcome is guaranteed to be based on His promise in Romans 8.28:

God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”.

Michael W. Smith, who recorded this version, said this about the song,

When I hear the song I go back to the 2nd Kings Scripture and how Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened. It’s so incredible that the song has only a few lines and it catches fire and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to record it. It lights up the room when you sing it. He’s got your back. He said He’ll never leave you or forsake you. He’ll never leave you. God’s at work and we don’t understand it all. Even in the valley, He’s working for our good.

This is an attitude we must take forward into today and everyday; the blessed assurance that God will never leave or forsake us, that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him, and that because He is outside of time, He is already there in our future having made a way, won the victory, and having fought our battle.

If you are walking through a season of difficulty and trial, please, listen to this and take comfort from knowing the Lord is walking ahead of you, fighting your battles, and that He loves you.

In Memory of Jarrid Wilson

This morning I woke up to the terribly sad news that a Pastor in the U.S. took his own life and went to be with the Lord. He was not old in any sense of the word, barely 30. You can read the story here


Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Harvest Christian Fellowship.


Jarrid Wilson served at Harvest Christian Fellowship and started a ministry aimed at helping those with mental health issues called ‘Anthem of Hope’. He spoke out many times about depression and was open and honest about his ongoing struggles. 

When things like this happen we have so many questions;

Why did this happen?

What went wrong in this person’s life?

If we knew the person we think could I have in any way prevented this?

Society can often be quick to call suicide a sin, mental health issues a sin, depression a sin. But think, would you convict a cancer patient of being in sin because their body does not work according to its intended design? Yet somehow mental health issues are quick to be cast aside as iniquity, depression as something you can just think away, and suicide as the ultimate and unforgivable sin. The Bible does speak of an unforgivable sin, but friends, suicide is not it.

Dealing with grief and loss brings many emotions to the surface. We feel deep, all-encompassing sadness, we feel anger, we feel anxiety, we feel guilt, we feel lost, and we feel confused. Why did this happen Lord?

At times when we do not understand, we must fall back on things we do understand. 

We know that God loves us.

We know that He sent Jesus to redeem us from this fallen world we live in.

We know that He proved His love for us by offering Himself as a ransom for many, for all, whilst we were still sinners. 

We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not now, not ever. 

Larry Taylor, whose son tragically took his own life in 1986 wrote this,

I know the sorrow of loss, but I also know the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I know God’s forgiveness, and I know first hand that God can take a broken and ruined life and transform it into a thing of beauty and grace.

He goes on to say

Our society is plagued with the scourge of sin, not least of which is the horror of suicide which appears to be on the increase…The answer is a personal relationship with the living Jesus who loves you and can forgive you, restore you, comfort you, and heal you. When He returns, may He find us bringing His healing love to others. 

The Wilson family, and every other family who have dealt with this unique type of loss need the healing love of Jesus today, and every day from now until He returns or calls us home.

Join me today in praying for Jarrid’s wife, children, and family. 

Spiritual Depression – General Considerations – Psalm 42

In the 1960’s D.Martin Lloyd-Jones had a series of sermons published as a book called ‘Spiritual Depression‘. A Pastor I know recently said it was the best Christian book he had ever read, and that it changed his life. As providence would have it, I had an old copy in the office, so, as I read through it I’ll share it too. In between this on-and-off series if you have suggestions for Bible books you would like to see as devotionals, leave a comment and let me know!

Lloyd-Jones writes that spiritual depression is a condition that appears in both the Old and New Testaments, and seems to be one of the major issues that God’s people have to deal with. How they deal with it will be illuminating and instructive for us. 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 42.5, 11 (KJV)

The Psalmist is sharing his woes and it’s suggested that his spiritual depression is due to not being able to gather with others in the public worship of God (vv.2-4). How interesting, that not meeting with other believers to worship God has led the Psalmist to a place of spiritual depression, where he feels that his soul is downcast, his very being is feeling blue. 

When we face similar periods of spiritual sadness, drought, and depression, we would do well to turn to the Word to see how to move through this. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition and it also good to look at examples and illustrations [in principles] from the same source.

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones, 1964, P.10

The big thing to remember when this kind of feeling comes upon us is this –

it is vital to take the teaching of the Word of God first and foremost.

Feelings, experiences, Janet-down-the-road’s-friend’s-story, our own interpretations, emotions, all of this must come second to the explicit teaching of the Word of God and the principles therein.

If something we feel or experience doesn’t line up with the Bible, we shouldn’t put any stock into it as a method for moving through the spiritual depression we may be feeling. 

Period of feeling like this will affect us all.

There will be days where we don’t see the sanctifying process and progress at work in our lives.

There will be days when we feel like we are going backwards.

There will be says when we doubt.

There will be days where our behaviour is even more un-Christian than before we believed.

We see great heroes of the faith in the Bible experience periods of feeling like this, but the key is to hope in God, His Word gives us an abundance of reasons to do so, and know that we shall yet praise Him for the help he brings. 

When we do this, our attitude and feelings are supernaturally changed in His perfect timing to a point where we can say I shall yet praise Him, for He is the health of my life, and my God

We will move from knowing He will help us, to knowing He has helped us.