Some call them “Jonah days”—times when you feel down in the mouth, unable to get a positive perspective on life. But Jonah wasn’t the only person in the Bible to suffer this kind of depression. Elijah also felt overwhelmed. So did King David.
Closer to home, depression of varying degrees visits us all from time to time. More than one in five Americans can expect to suffer from some sort of depression in a lifetime. And medical doctors tell us that short-term depression is as common as the cold. Depression may even cast its shadow over the Christian. The only difference, however, is that we have a refuge—a shelter in a time of storm. And so, with confident expectation that the God of all comfort will strengthen you with His hope, we offer you this fresh and practical help for those grey days.
Glimpses of God beyond the Grey
God can and will use this experience for good in your life. You may want to argue, ignore, or shout against your circumstances, but believe that God is working. God does something marvellous in you when, despite your pain, you remain consistent in your desire to trust Him. He teaches you new dimensions to prayer when you feel alone, patience when your world feels out of control, goodness and gentleness when you would rather lash out, and a hope that can never be broken. God will not waste even this difficult time. Whether He engineered it or not, He will redeem this circumstance and turn it into a gift.
How to Get Perspective
On days you struggle with feelings of depression, take active steps to refocus your attention:
1. Cultivate intimacy with God. Spend time thinking, praying, and seeking God. Read the Psalms and other encouraging selections and rejoice in His character.
2. Look for good and expect to find it. Your choice of attitude will often determine what you find. Fill each day with thanksgiving.
3. Stop trying to discover why. Although it is not uncommon for depressed people to question God’s presence, character, or plan, some answers are not to be found this side of heaven. Accept that God is in control.
4. Focus on the needs of others. Consider joining an intercessory prayer group or volunteering in your church or community.
5. Choose healthy ways to cope with stress and anger. Whether you talk it out, enjoy an activity, spend time in solitude, or develop a different mind-set—find an anxiety-buster that works for you.
Depression often brings tremendous depth to our personal relationship with God as we learn to surrender to His direction while traveling through the dark valley.
Taken from Barb Peil, “Depression: Hope for the Gray Days,” Insights (Jan. 1999): 2. Copyright © 1999 Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide.