Handling Discouragement and Depression – Pt 1

“The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary; there is no limit to his understanding. He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Youths may become faint and weary, the young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar like eagles, they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40.28-31).

One day I am highly favored by God; the next I am irredeemable. One day the promises are all for me; the next I don’t seem to find a promise to meet my need. “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my claim is ignored by my God” (Isaiah 40.27). Why do I grow discouraged in my walk with the LORD?

1. I stop believing God forgave me.

2. I concentrate on my wretchedness.

3. I am weakened by my afflictions.

Most people don’t understand forgiveness. They have a high view of themselves and a low view of God. They don’t understand the destructive nature of their sin. But as a believer, I seem my sin as exceedingly sinful. I am so aware of its destructive power, that I struggle with believing I could ever be forgiven. As David wrote, “There is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have flooded over my head; they are a burden too heavy for me to bear” (Psalm 38.3-4). I start believing that my sin is so great, it cannot be forgiven. It is difficult to live contrary to the love of God through Christ Jesus …to continually grieve and quench the working of the Holy Spirit. So, I become discouraged and start to believe the lie that I remain yet in my sins …unforgiving.

Second, I struggle with my wretched condition. My position as a child of God is no longer my focus. Instead, the condition in which I live is the focus. Pressure builds as I focus on the conflict within me. “I see a different law in parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death” (Romans 7.23-24)? I know verse 25 in Romans 7, but I stop at verse 24. I struggle so much with sin and face the fiery darts of the evil one on a constant basis. The battle is so pressing that rescue seems out of the question …that every other believer knows a spiritual secret that I am not privy to. All hope seems lost. 

Finally, I am in a weak and vulnerable state because of all these afflictions. It doesn’t matter how strong others seem to be. All of us succumb to spiritual discouragement at one time or another. David believed that God had thrown his soul away. Job cursed the day he was born. Jeremiah began to believe the LORD had deceived him. These strong men grew weak and faint because of their afflictions. Elijah was so discouraged at one point in his life that he wished for God to take his life in order to be released from his afflictions. I’ve been there. I suspect many believers have been there. Jesus Himself cried out in His humanity, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” My afflictions are so burdensome, that my shoulders slump, my hands hang down, prayer becomes elusive, and I can’t seem to take another step.

How do I meet these times of discouragement? “The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding” (Isaiah 40.28). I must trust in the limitless power and wisdom of my Father in Heaven. That power and wisdom is the answer to discouragement and the subject of tomorrow’s post.

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