You know what makes depression and anxiety worse for the Christian? The fact that it feels like taboo to bring it up. When that happens, that exponentially compounds the issue. Why? Because guilt piles on top of guilt, forming layer upon layer of the ice that seeks to smother the fire of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of the believer.
I’m confident that I can say this about not only about my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but even regarding their shepherds (pastors). I’m a pastor and more often than not, I face anxiety and fairly strong bouts of depression because of factors both known and unknown. If there’s any tool in Satan’s belt to be used to churn up a sense of defeat and lack of worth, it would be this one. So what is the prescription for us? We know what our friends say. We know what those who know us best, our parents or spouse, would say. But the best question to begin asking if you haven’t already is, what does God say about this?
Let’s take a look at a few examples that God graciously gives us as resources for our help in time of need (Romans 15:4)
RESTING PHYSICALLY FROM OUR EFFORTS
Elijah is a revered person in most of the Old Testament. He’s the one that most people considered Jesus to be when they didn’t have an explanation for what He was doing. Elijah faced down an evil man with the crown of a king, the throne of a king, but who really wasn’t a king. He was also married to a vile woman that was ruthless and cold. Elijah called out this king and his wife for being disobedient, was led by God into the wilderness for protection and then finally summoned to Mount Carmel for one of the biggest demonstrations of God’s power ever seen. After this victory, one threat crumbled all of Elijah’s joy, and everything he began to see turned grey. He was in so much despair and loneliness that he even wished to die. God sent an angel to him to literally provide a resting place and food. Elijah then was summoned to a place where he saw God afresh and in power that led him to a place of awe. Almost immediately we see him calling Elisha to be his protege that would leave a lasting legacy (and also who would live a life similar to Elijah’s).
RESTING IN OUR TRUE IDENTITY
This is the lesson that I’m learning again. The reality that Christ has called me to work out of my rest. This rest is one not limited to physical effort and strain, but also that of the spirit and the heart. We do things because they need to be done but we also do things because they bring fulfillment and purpose. This can bleed into trying to make an effort to do things for God so as to be recognized and merited more grace and to make Him happy with us. But that’s not the gospel. Because the gospel says the work is finished and completed. There isn’t anything else to add nor take away. We simply rest in HIs finished work. It doesn’t mean we can’t be zealous or ambitious; it just simply means we can’t bet compensated in tokens of righteousness for those things. Our joy is found in knowing that He has run the perfect race and crossed the perfect finish line; we can’t and never will we. John 15 is where Jesus uses the perfect illustration by saying that we are the branches bearing fruit of the vine. Guess who the True Vine is? Him. He’s the True Vine. And “apart from [Him] we can do nothing” John 15:5
RESTING IN HIS DIVINE INTERCESSION
This is probably most convicting for me. Even when I’m alone, when I pray and seek His help I’m not praying alone. I’m praying alongside the sounds of the Spirit’s groans and the voice of the Son Of God in intercession before the Father Himself.
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words;” Romans 8:28
“Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”Hebrews 7:25
You see, we have a God who seeks to mend the broken. He patiently deals with the bruised reed and the candle’s wick that is quickly headed toward being snuffed out. He wants bodily rest, a firm embrace of our identity in Him and assurance that He not only hears us but helps us to be heard. O Praise Him!
So what do we do? We seek rest, and in our rest we seek His face in affirming us of who we are in Him, and then we trust in His mode of giving us communication with Him going forward.
“My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.” Psalm 62:1