Avoiding Despair in Difficult TimesDecember 30, 2020
Avoiding Despair in Difficult Times
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
I. What the Bible Says About Depression
A. Depression is not:
- Distressing (1 Pet 1:6)
- Grief (Jn 11:33-35)
- Disappointment at rejection (Jn 6:65-67)
- Perplexing circumstances that to despair (2 Cor 1:8)
B. Depression is becoming despairing in perplexing circumstances.
C. Depression is a to a problem (often very tough) that causes an inability to handle life responsibly and biblically.
II. Factors That Cause or Contribute to Perplexing Circumstances and Feelings of Depression
A. problems can cause perplexing circumstances.
B. Neglect can cause perplexing circumstances.
C. Responding to a hard situation can make perplexing circumstances worse.
D. Unresolved guilt can cause perplexing circumstances. i.e. David became perplexed and then depressed as he hid his sin (Ps 32:3-4; Ps 38:3).
E. A life dominated by and anger can cause and worsen perplexing circumstances and ultimately lead to despair (Eph 4:26-27).
F. Fear, anxiety, and worry worsen a perplexing circumstance and can ultimately lead to despair.
G. Pride can create unrealistic and unbiblical expectations or goals
causing and/or worsening perplexing circumstances.
H. aspirations and standards for success can cause perplexing
circumstances and despairing perspectives.
III. Example of the Downward Spiral
IV. Biblical Hope for the Depressed (Doing & Thinking Biblically)
A. When the despair is related to a lack of biblical perspective, on the Word. God declares in His Word that He is responsible for both the challenging circumstances and the pleasant circumstances of our lives. We call this God’s sovereignty (Job 2:10; Ecc 7:14; Is 45:7; Lam 3:38; 1 Sam 2:6-7; Jas 4:15)!
1. Examples from Scripture
- Job’s loss (Job 1:12; 2:6)
- Christ’s death (Jn 19:11; Acts 4:27-28)
- Invasion of Israel (Prov 21:1)
- Disciples on the sea (Matt 8:26-27)
2. If we are in Christ, God’s control over all things is used to help us become more upon Him and grow in Christ (Rom 8:28-29; 2 Cor
3. Every challenging circumstance will accomplish for the child of God if handled rightly (Heb 12; Gen 50:20; 2 Cor 1; 2 Cor 4:17; 1 Pet 1:7; 1 Pet 5:8ff).
B. Where the perplexing circumstances are related to personal sin, embrace confession and repentance, and seek practical help in making biblical changes.
C. Where the despair is related to sinfully responding to a perplexing situation, acknowledge sin, and then seek/work to spiral out of depression by . Responding to challenging circumstances sinfully will not lead to any intended good, but rather, lead to greater challenges in life (Gal 6:9-10).
1. Seek to discover the possible good (current & potential) that God intends to bring out of this tough situation.
If you are going to respond rightly and experience the good
purposes God has for you in your present challenge, your greatest
need first of all, is to look at your challenges through the eyes of
biblical faith. (Heb 11:1)
2. Based on these discoveries, create a faith-motivated hope “” and a hope-motivated obedience “script” to replace despairing thoughts and disobedient neglect whenever it strikes. Commit to prayerfully hiding in your heart the “filter/scripts” several times a day, and to apply the “filter/scripts” when despair strikes.
3. Establish a daily that reflects obedience to the things God has called you to, even in the midst of the perplexing circumstance.
4. Enlist the help of a godly mentor (same sex) and any others that will help you to daily review what you are to think and do (based on the schedule) (Heb 3:12-13; Tit 2:3-5; Phil 3:17).
5. Be to biblically-based counselors in your life regularly calling you back to faith-motivated hope, perspectives and actions, firmly but gently, when you slow or stop, thus reversing the downward spiral of depression.
- You must dwell on and do what pleases the Spirit, no matter how you feel.
- Depression can be stubborn, so you must eliminate all for not dwelling on, and doing what is biblical.
- You must remember the definition for faith:
Believing the Word of God and,
Acting upon it,
No matter how I feel,
Knowing that God promises
A good result.
*You will not your way out of depression—you must work to apply biblical hope to your despairing thought process.
Specific Suggestions for Defeating Depression:
1. Maintain daily Word and worship time with God. God is bigger than the problem.
2. Become a vital part of a biblical church (Acts 2:42).
3. Develop close friendships with godly people who will stimulate, exhort, rebuke, support, encourage, and challenge you (Heb 10:24-25; 2 Tim 2:22).
4. Make a “log list” (Matt 7:2-5) and deal with your “logs” regularly.
5. Develop a prayer list and use it regularly.
6. Develop a “think and do” list (Rom 12:2) and use it.
7. Develop a list of attainable goals and seek to fulfill them.
8. Develop a “thanks list” (Heb 13:15) and use it frequently.
9. Make a list of all priorities and responsibilities.
10. Plan your months, weeks, and days in such a way to make time for priorities.
11. Operate your life according to your schedule (1 Cor 14:33, 40), fulfilling all responsibilities.
12. Develop a “service list” (Heb 13:16; Gal 5:13).
13. Discover, develop, and use your spiritual gifts (Rom 12:3-8).
14. Take care of your physical needs.
15. Memorize Scripture, meditate on it, and apply it in times of temptation.
16. Make a “fun list” and plan to put items from it into practice regularly.
17. Prepare for the worst times of the week with strategic, biblical scheduling.
18. Deal with troubled relationships as much as it depends on you through learning the Phil 2:3-5 mindset and actions toward the person.
Biblical Faith-Motivated Hope ”Filter” Thoughts:
- God is finishing the good work in me of making me more obedient to Him like Christ (Phil 1:6; 2:3-8; Heb 5:8).
- God believes that these trials are necessary for my perseverance and endurance in faith and Christ-like character (1 Pet 1:6-7; 4:18; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 12:14).
- He is teaching me to set my desires and hopes on that which endures forever (2 Cor 4:16-18; 1 Pet 4:1).
- God will not give me more than I can handle. He is faithful (1 Cor 10:13).
- He is purifying what I believe are my “needs” in life so that He and His Word become all that I need (Job 28:9-12; Mt 4:4; Lk 10:41-42; Phil 4:12-14).
- He is confirming my salvation (1 Pet 5:10).
- He is preparing me to be able to sympathize and comfort others in challenging circumstances like Jesus does (2 Cor 1:3-4; Heb 4:15; 5:2).
- He is helping me realize that because God is sovereign, I and others are as safe in dangerous circumstances as we are in safe circumstances (Heb 9:27; Ps 139:16; Eph 2:10).
- He is teaching me to value the days on earth so that I will make the most of my time and relationships for eternal purposes (Ps 39:4-6; 90:12; Eph 5:15-17).
- He is giving me the opportunity to glorify Him (Jn 12:27-28; Heb 12:1-2).
- There are many more purposes that God will reveal to me, and that I will experience, as I walk in faith and obedience to Him through my present perplexity (Jer 32:19; Rom 8:28-29; Eph 2:10).
*Taken from Tim Bryant and the Low Country Biblical Counseling Center