Like potatoes in a pressure cooker, we 21st-century creatures understand the meaning of stress. A week doesn’t pass without a few skirmishes with those “extrinsic agents” that beat upon our fragile frames.
We are imperfect people living among other imperfect people in an imperfect world. That has numerous effects. We do things contrary to God's Word and experience guilt as a result. We also get angry but mishandle it by repressing it or becoming bitter. We suffer physically and emotionally. All these things can result in depression—feeling hopeless, dejected, and sad—becoming inactive and not being able to sleep or focus on normal tasks. Most of us experience this at one time or another.
The Lord knows depression is part of the human condition and provides answers to help us. He gives biblical examples of people who experienced it. In His Word He shows us some of its causes and cures: Elijah (1 Kings 19); Jonah (Jonah 4); David (Psalm 69). The Lord provides hope to the depressed. His Person (He is faithful, powerful, loving, and wise), His promises (to meet our needs, give strength, to protect), and His presence (He will never leave us or forsake us) all bring hope to the weary of soul. God also gives reasons for suffering and pain—to teach us (James 1:3), strengthen us (1 Peter 5:10), discipline us (Hebrews 12:5-11), and make us like Christ (Romans 8:28-29), to name just a few reasons. His unfailing love is also offered to comfort and encourage us when we are depressed (2 Corinthians 4:8-11; 7:6).
When the advent season begins, our stressed-out and overworked spirits are refreshed by renewed anticipation of all Christmas means to us. But how do we hold onto that hope and stay on course throughout the year?
“Upper” days lift our spirits and send them soaring. “Downer” days leave us sad and discouraged. As we face our own upper-downer days, we can learn from Abraham’s experience how to put things in proper perspective and find our balance.
If most people are broken, needing God’s help and healing, why do we tend to value feeling good when most of the time we don't? Why do we act like we’re fine even when we’re not?
Let’s face it: some days are uppers and some are downers. “Upper” days lift our spirits and send them soaring. “Downer” days leave us sad and discouraged. On a few occasions we get both on in one day!
Everyone feels sad at certain points in life. Often, it is a response to pain and loss. General sadness is usually temporary and fades. Clinical depression, on the other hand, is a longer-term mental illness. Is it OK to be sad?
Hope. It’s the one thing you and I cannot live without. But trying to hold on to hope can take all your strength, particularly when hope’s old enemy, doubt, drags you toward despair.
To go somewhere new, of course, it’s necessary to know where we are.
Choose some psalms to include in your personal reading time this summer. To help make them stick, don’t try to digest too great a meal in one sitting. Consider these songs as rich food to be savoured slowly.
Christmas is a very stressful time. All the things we do leading up to, during, and following Christmas stress us. And as with most times of high stress there follows a time of backlash we refer to as the blues.