Pulpit Reflections: Faith can help you overcome seasons of depression

As we approach the holiday season, a season of Thanksgiving, cheer, and good will toward man, many people don't feel any of these.  In fact what they carry is a heavy burden of depression.  Depression can affect us all in season of life and some more severely then others.  Our society has ways to ease the effect of depression such as medications and psychology, but often people still live with the pain of depression.

As a person who has struggled with seasons of depression in the past and coming from a family with a long history of depression, I understand what it is about.  I also know that the Bible gives us a clear path to be free from the affect of depression so we don't have to live with it anymore.  I am living proof.

Isaiah 61:1-3 says "The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of the vengeance of our god, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

Jesus quoted this passage in Luke 4:18 and is the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Jesus is the one that can do all these things for us.  He can heal our broken hearts, set free those in prison (those whose souls seem stuck in darkness), to comfort those who are mourning, to replace ashes (abuse, horrible situations survived, nagging memories, hurts, pains) with the beautiful presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

He wants to give us the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of despair.  This can seem so impossible, but the spirit of God is called our comforter and healer in the Bible.  He doesn't only want to heal our bodies, but also our hearts and spirits.

So you may be wondering how can I get free from depression?

First, you must become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and be born again.  Then you will have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit inside of you.

Second, you must forgive all those who have hurt you.  I went through a period in my life where I wrote down all the people who I hadn't forgiven and forgave them, some in person but most in prayer. 

Third, you must leave all burdens that God never intended for you to carry at the foot of the cross.  Mathew 11:28-30 says "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  When Jesus died on the cross, he took all of our infirmities, all of our sickness and all of our diseases.  1 Peter 5:7 says "Cast all of your care (all of your anxieties, all of your worries, all your concerns, once for all) on him for he cares for you affectionately and cares for you watchfully."  If we carry all the burdens that Jesus never intended for us to carry, we get heavy, loaded down, and depressed.  We need to cast our cares on him.  The cross of Christ is important for us as Christians because it is the point where we put to death our past, we bury it with him so that we can also be raised to new life in him.  Our past no longer affects our future.

Fourth, you need to allow the Holy Spirit to heal your memories.  All the memories of hurt and pain weight us down.  The more you have been hurt, abused, laughed at, put down, etc, etc, the more hurts and pains you carry.  For those who have had difficult lives it seems easiest just to suppress the memories, but the hurt and pain is still there.  You continue to carry it.  A few weeks back we had an awesome experience at our church called a God Encounter.  People received freedom from their past by nailing hurts and pains to the cross, inner healing, forgiveness, and breaking stronghold over peoples' lives.  The impact on everyone's life that went through was tremendous. 

After the God encounter, the Holy Spirit began to bring back to me, through dreams, a painful memory.  I had forgiven the people involved, but I realized the pain of the memory was still present.  As I began to pray about the memory, I asked Jesus to take away the pain.  I felt him washing away the pain in his precious blood and I felt the hurt leave.  Later on in the week the Lord showed me other memories that needed healing.  As I felt his healing touch over each memory, I could feel the lightness in my spirit as I was being set free.  God word says "He who the son sets free is free indeed."

Even the most painful memories are safe to visit when you visit them with Jesus.  Do you want to get free today?  Let the Lord set you free from depression.  It doesn't happen overnight, but it can and will happen.

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