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Home School of Suffering Joni, Suffering and Overcoming Depression

Joni, Suffering and Overcoming Depression

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Joni, Suffering and Overcoming Depression



Causes and cures to depression in Christian Women

If you are at all familiar with the story of Joni and particular her first book Joni, you will know that she suffered terrible depression follow her breaking her neck and hospitalization. It is not uncommon for people to suffer acute depression who have gone through a severe trauma, loss of relationship, divorce, terminal or prolonged illness or bereavement or loss of job or financial ruin. If this is you there is hope and help from God and His Word and God’s people the living Church.

What is Depression?

Do you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning? If you have responsibilities for other family members, do you let them slip? Are you becoming indecisive and forgetful? Do you feel like not laughing anymore? Has food lost its taste and if you are married has sex lost its appeal? Do you seem to be withdrawing into a shell, not wanting to be bothered by family or friends? Have you lost your desire to talk on the phone or go to social gatherings you used to enjoy? Are you starting to stop seeing people?

Do you find it difficult to sleep at night? Do you wake in the middle of the night and trash around until dawn, bothered by negative and gloomy thoughts? Would you like to sleep 16 hours a day or take frequent naps? And if you do, do you still feel exhausted?  Are you thoughts filled with a sense of hopelessness? Do you feel there is no way out of your circumstances? Do you feel no one cares about you, and you don’t care about yourself? Do you lack positive feelings about yourself? Do you feel there is a dark thundercloud hanging over your head following you wherever you go?

Have you noticed changes physically? Do you have a number of new, vague aches and pains? Do you suspect that you have some serious disease?

This is depression.1

Who is at risk of depression?

1. Women are at greater risk than men.
2. If you are between the ages of 18-44 you are at greater risk than older people.
3. If you are separated or divorced or never married you are at greater risk than married couples. But an unhappy marriage can be a major cause of depression.
4. If you are in a lower socioeconomic group you are more likely to present depressive symptoms.
5. If you have a history of depression in your family, hereditary factors may predispose you to depression.
6. Failure to do your house work, disorder at home or work, slackening of your interest, being a loner, those who lose their appetite or eat excessively, you harbor bitterness, have trouble with people, make excuses or lie.

In December of 1998 this writer suffered a “nervous breakdown.” The whole experience was precipitated by unresolved personal problems, a number of years in a very legalistic church and overwork in ministry and secular studies. It was only through the wonderful help of loving Christian friends, counseling and medication that I emerged from this dark trauma.

It was through the loving commitment of friends and the work of God’s Spirit taking the word of God that started me on the road to recovery. It was the same in Joni’s story. It is imperative you seek help, preferably from close loving friends or family. The problem is depression, which is really an illness of the brain often carries and unhealthy stigma to it and is poorly understood.

Spiritual depression and how to overcome it.

Spiritual depression is invariably linked to a physical condition in your body. Typical causes are overwork, prolonged illness, and a life threatening disease or some great loss or bereavement. Other reasons why we can become spiritually depressed are;

1. A loss of the sense of God’s presence.
2. A lack of spiritual strength in fighting the world, our flesh and the Devil.
3. A lack of assurance that we are Christian or fears about the future i.e.

If I where to die tonight and God was to say to me, “Why should I let you into my heaven.” What would you say?

[ An answer that you have done something or are someone shows you are not a Christian. But an answer that says you are trusting only in Jesus Christ and what He has done in His death for your sins on the cross so as to bring you into new relationship with God indicates you are His disciple, and therefore a Christian.]

We become spiritually depressed because God is in control of our lives and He has a good and loving plan for us that only spiritual depression will accomplish. But what good, you say could possibly come from God allowing me to become spiritually so down?

The answer is that through this depression I learn to become dependant on God by trusting Him and leaning on His Son Jesus Christ. Through this God develops in you the graces of faith, humility, knowing your God’s child, prayer and the fear of God.

Another reason we may be spiritually depressed is because we have neglected basic spiritual disciplines like regularly reading and studying God’s Word, private prayer, living a holy life, having a false confidence we are Christian and being proud. This results in the Holy Spirit being grieved and quenched; so we no longer enjoy God’s presence.

We must never forget that behind our spiritual depression is the Devil as Job chapter 1 teaches us. He uses carnal reasoning about the Bible, God, our autonomy and grace. He also uses a guilty conscience and our emotions.

We overcome spiritual depression when with the help of God’s Holy Spirit we fly to God through looking on Jesus Christ. This means we trust Christ for everything in our lives, we trust God is working out His good plan for our life through this dark time. We trust God’s promises; Psalm 1 , Romans 8 , John 14-16 , 2 Corinthians 4 , John 6 .

We need to be sorrow for our sins, but this must be balanced. Being overly sorry for my sins is as wrong as having little regard for my sins. Finally we must actively praise God for who He is and my union and communion with Jesus Christ because He has made me righteous. On the basis that I am right with God, forgiven and His adopted child possessed and gift with His Holy Spirit I can do the “first works” because I have returned to “my first love,” the Lord Jesus Christ.

How to overcome spiritual depression – Cain a case study in mild depression

“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Genesis 4:3-7

Why we become spiritually depressed v3

How it looks in practice – cause & cure

Why you’ve become depressed
How to overcome depression God’s way
Don’t handle problems God’s way –
Genesis 4:3 - Change your behaviour and do what is right
You respond wrongly to your problems –
Genesis 4:5 -
Focus your anger on the problem – doing the right thing despite your feelings
Genesis 4:7   “If you do well, will you not be accepted.”  Genesis 4:7


Notes
1. Norman Wright, Questions Women Ask (California: Regal Books., 1993), p. 93-94


 

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