Lately, I’ve been experiencing and hearing a lot about the infamous “D” word: depression. Thankfully, the depressive episodes haven’t gotten to the point they once were in my life—chronic—but they do rear their ugly heads from time to time. And as stated, I’ve been hearing a lot about depression, particularly from Christians. Because of this, I started to question myself some days ago: What could be the cause of this (outside of medical reasons)? Why is it that the very people who are supposed to be joyful and rejoicing in a guaranteed inheritance so blue?
Of course I know that the enemy is the chief manipulator; but I’ve also come to the realization that our spiritual diets are playing a part as well. What do I mean by this? Well, we know that in the physical everything that we eat and drink affects our bodies (either positively or negatively) in some way – be it through weight gain, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, or even a reversal of these things. Well the same is true concerning our spiritual lives. Whatever we pump into our spiritual man will produce a harvest, whether good or bad. And I find that when we only take in things that are pleasurable or appealing to the flesh—such as, Your breakthrough is on the way, or, What God has done for others, He will do for you, or, God will give you the desires of your heart [i.e., ‘whatever you wish’] if you delight in Him—and nothing happens after six months, 18 months, five years, ten years, bitterness and/or depression can set in. Why? Because “God hasn’t made good on His promises,” when in fact, those promises were never spoken by God. (God is not a man, that He should lie! See Numbers 23:19 and Deuteronomy 18:22.)
Now, could these messages be meant to uplift versus intentionally mislead? Yes (though many times these words are uttered by blatantly false teachers), but, they are misleading, nonetheless; because when we read the Bible, we find that God doesn’t promise earthly, physical breakthrough to those who believe on His name (Ephesians 1:3). Quite the contrary, and to our flesh’s dismay, He very often promises trials. . . tribulations. . . trouble! (All for our good, of course.)
Let’s look quickly at a few verses for proof, starting with John 16:33. There, Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart [don’t get stuck on the trouble part]! I have overcome the world.” In Acts 14:22, we are told that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Lastly, in James 1:2, James tells us, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” (Emphasis mine.)
In reading those verses, you’re now probably wondering, “Does this mean that we should never expect good – or anything outside of trouble – from God this side of Heaven?” No, they do not mean that at all. It’s actually good to have hope and expectations of miracles from God, for He can do far more than we can ask or think (and He does so in our lives every day, whether we see it or not). However, what we do not want to do is hang all of our hope upon what we desire/expect God to do, becoming discouraged, dismayed, and depressed when our expectations aren’t brought to fruition (or brought in the way that we’d like). Our hope should always be in God and the surefire, eternal promises He has given to us, as was the apostles’ and the disciples’. These men of God went through much for the name of Christ, and yet remained steadfast because they were standing firmly on His promises of eternal life as their foundation. In reading the New Testament, we see that these men—Peter, Paul, James, John, Stephen—did not “break through” in the traditional, earthly sense; but they did break through spiritually, and in the most ultimate way when they met Christ (in death).
That said, let us all determine to rest in God as they did. This side of Heaven will never be total coasting and ease, but as I constantly remind myself, we can be at ease if we will keep our focus on God, reminding ourselves that the troubles we face now are not worth comparing with the glory that He is to reveal to us later (Romans 8:18).