I Thank God For Freeing Me From Depression – Climbing Out of the Valley of Gloom

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Christ was continually receiving from the Father that He might communicate to us. “The word which ye hear,” He said, “is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.” John 14:24. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Matt. 20:28. Not for Himself, but for others, He lived and thought and prayed. From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace, that He might impart to others. His words were given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He might speak in season to the weary and oppressed. “The Lord God hath given Me,” He said, “the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isa. 50:4.

Matthew 26:36-46

The Message (MSG)
36-38 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”
39 Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”
40-41 When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”
42 He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, “My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.”
43-44 When he came back, he again found them sound asleep. They simply couldn’t keep their eyes open. This time he let them sleep on, and went back a third time to pray, going over the same ground one last time.
45-46 When he came back the next time, he said, “Are you going to sleep on and make a night of it? My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s get going! My betrayer is here.”

Being confronted with life challenges in regards to an unforgiving nation and mistakes that try to plague my peace I suffer depression some days beyond measure. It is amazing how after God blesses us with a new day of new mercies and plenty of grace for the blessed day how we still get caught up in ourselves. I am at this moment thankful for His grace getting me to this portion of the closing hours of this day. I am dedicated to speak and write this post in hopes to sprinkle some hope and knowledge into someone else’s life. Be magnified my Lord through my hands tonight I pray In Jesus name.

I hope this doesn’t depress you but here are some interesting facts about depression:
o Nearly 19 million Americans or about 10 percent of the US populations age 18 or over will suffer some form of depression each year.
o Everyone will at some time in their life be affected by depression—either their own or someone else’s.
o PRESCHOOLERS are the fastest market for antidepressants! Over 1 million preschoolers are clinically depressed. The annual rate of increase for depression among children is 23%
o Depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder and costs employers more than US$51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity, not including high medical and pharmaceutical bills.
o Antidepressants work for 35 to 45% of the depressed population, while more recent figures suggest as low as 30%.
o Standard antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, have recently been revealed to have serious risks, and are linked to suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors.
o Antidepressants medications work only as well (or less) than placebos.
Depression Facts and Stats By Bob Murray, PhD and Alicia Fortinberry, MS http://www.upliftprogram.com/depression_stats.html

ILLUSTRATION: The story is told how the great preacher and reformer Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife brought him mourning clothes to put on.
“Who’s dead?” Luther asked her.
“God,” she replied.

Luther rebuked her, saying, “What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die.”
“Well,” she replied, “the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had!”
How can we find freedom from depression? What does it take to climb out of the valley of gloom? This morning we are going to discover six practical steps we can take to find freedom from depression, and we are going to find these steps out of the valley of gloom in an unlikely place—the life of Jesus.
But first before we look at the six steps to finding freedom from depression, let’s start by looking at six general causes of depression-
I. Causes of Depression
1. PHYSICAL Many times our depression is the result of physical causes.
a) Sometimes we just get caught up in the maddening pace of life. Things that are supposed to make our lives easier sometimes only add to our ‘to do’ list, and when the computer or other gadgets don’t work like they are supposed to it just adds to our stress.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18-19 is an example of depression brought on by physical exhaustion. Elijah had won the battle with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Then when he was threatened by Jezebel, Elijah ran for his life over 100 miles from Jezreel to Beersheba. There Elijah sat down and just wanted to die; his prayer was simple; “Lord I’ve had enough, just kill me because I’m no better than my ancestors. What did Elijah need? Food and rest, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah and, then God took Elijah on a 40 day journey to Mount Sinai. When Elijah got there he again sat down depressed and full of self-pity, “Lord I’m the only one left who is faithful to you.” A major part of Elijah’s depression was brought on by physical causes. If you are familiar with Elijah’s story then you may recognize some other causes of his depression as we continue.

b) Illness can be another physical cause of depression. How often when we are sick do we find ourselves feeling depressed and wanting to isolate ourselves from others?
• Psalm 88:15, 18 (NIV)
From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair . . . You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.

c) Sometimes we make the mistake of searching for an emotional or spiritual cause for our depression. What we may need to do is first look for a physical cause. Are we just exhausted? Are we eating right? Are we getting some exercise? If we take the necessary steps needed to keep our bodies physically healthy we may also alleviate our depression as well.

2. SENSE OF LOSS Depression can also be cause by a sense of loss.
a) The aging process can bring both physical pains and a sense of loss for the missed opportunities and regrets that can flood your mind. By just about anyone’s standards Solomon had it made; he had everything. Yet as he closes the book of Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 we find venting some of his depression caused by his sense of loss as he reflected upon his life. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

ILLUSTRATION: As I stopped to think about this message and my life I realized that I have been depressed off and on for the last year and it all started with my sense of loss as a dad with Audrey passing on and taking the great sleep; daddy missed his little girl. But my loss was magnified because as a aspiring pastor I also lost her giftedness and ability as a pianist and worship leader—does anyone remember those first months worshiping with CD’s as the new worship team was being developed?

I also lost a great secretary. This loss brought on a lingering depression that caused me to have days that I was lethargic and unmotivated to do anything; like Elijah I just wanted to quit. Now there were other causes for my depression; some of it was physical. I had times when I was doing too much and was not getting enough rest. Some of my depression was a result of a spiritual battle. Pastors are sometimes like the kid in grade school with the kick me sign on his/her back, and the devil loves to kick at us in lots of different ways.

b) Loss comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and happens in lots of different ways. My loss seems rather small compared to those experienced by others.
o a mother and father who lost a child to cancer, as I did
o the husband who stands at the grave of his wife having been killed by a unknown sickness as I was
o the employee who is let go due to downsizing just months before his retirement
o the husband or wife who just found out their spouse has been having an affair
o the individual looking at a pile of bills with an empty checkbook
o the empty nest when the last child leaves home.

c) The list of losses goes on and on. Whether big or small in comparison to what others may have lost your loss is personal and causes you pain. What loss have you experienced that may be causing you to be depressed? Maybe your loss isn’t even tangible; maybe it’s just the loss of a dream.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet, is grieved by the loss of Israel’s homeland through their captivity and exile into the nation of Babylon. Jeremiah’s overwhelming depression, sadness and tears are poured out in the book of Lamentations. The book has 5 chapters; the first two and the last two all have 22 verses. The Hebrew alphabet also has 22 letters and each verse of these opening and closing chapters of Lamentations begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 3 of Lamentations is 66 verses long and Jeremiah repeats his alphabetical pattern 3 times in this middle chapter. So all together Jeremiah goes through the Hebrew alphabet seven times! It is Jeremiah’s way of mourning his loss—from A to Z—over and over again.

3. ENVIRONMENT AND CIRCUMSTANCES Your environment and circumstances can be another cause of depression.
a) Some people have a hard time living with clutter; they would sometimes find themselves being depressed living at our house. My wife says the whole house feels different if the bed gets made! At those times when the clutter is piling up we will sometimes have a 10 minute clean up (it’s really amazing how much you can get done when 7 people go to work for 10 minutes putting things away). When we are all done the house looks and feels better.

b) Job is an example of how depression can overwhelm us because of our environment and circumstances. In a single day his 10 children are killed in a terrible accident and all of his wealth is taken away from him. Then the next day Job gets sick; he develops boils on his skin that he scrapes with broken pottery. His wife tells him to curse God and die, and his three friends and a smart-mouthed youngster have nothing but bad things to say about him. It’s no wonder that Job says, “Why did I not perish at birth and die as I cam from the womb?” (Job 3:11 EMTV)

4. POOR SELF CONCEPT Another common cause of depression is having a poor self concept.
a) Some people suffer from stink’n think’n! They are unhappy about everything, but if you can get them to be honest for just a minute they are probably most unhappy with themselves; they have a poor self concept or self esteem.
b) A healthy self concept is made up of three things:

o Your sense of IDENTITY. We are satisfied with who we are as a person.
o Your sense of WORTH. Without being boastful or proud we know that we are valuable to God and other people.
o Your sense of COMPETENCE. We have the self confidence to know we can succeed and do what is asked of us.

c) Many people struggle with one or more of these aspects of self esteem. They may be somewhat satisfied with their identity as an individual, but lack any sense of worth or confidence. Some people have competence but lack worth or identity because they have associated this with their job and the things they can do, but are not happy with that.

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION: Naomi is a perfect example of how a poor self concept breeds depression. In the opening chapter of Ruth, Naomi gives up on life and on God. Her identity was stripped from her through the loss of her husbands and sons. She feels utterly worthless and feels helpless to do anything to make things better. When Naomi returns home to Bethlehem she asks her relatives and friends to start calling her MARA (bitter) instead of Naomi (pleasant, lovely, delightful). (Ruth 1:20)
d) Maybe you would like to change your name too. Perhaps you would like to be known as Brother (or Sister) Bitter. Life has thrown you a curve ball and you no longer feel that you are worth anything. Such a perspective is a breeding ground for depression.
5. SPIRITUAL FAILURE Sin or spiritual failure can make us depressed.
a) Another name for this kind of depression is guilt. As we saw last week the depression associated with guilt can be good when it is caused by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I failed to mention last week that some people never sense a freedom from sin because they have never let themselves grieve over their sin with a godly sorrow. Such godly sorrow or depression leads to repentance that brings God’s forgivingness and a renewal of joy. Unfortunately, too may of us run from anything that feels bad and we never grieve over our sin.
b) Remember what David said in Psalm 32 that describes the depth of his depression brought on by his sin with Bathsheba?
• Psalm 32:3-4 (MsgB)
[3] When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. [4] The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
c) If your depression is brought on by lingering guilt then you need to get a copy of last week’s sermon Freedom From Guilt. Don’t let your guilt drive a wedge between you and God; that’s Satan’s purpose for guilt to separate you from God. Run to God and find freedom from your guilt and the depression that comes with it.
6. SPIRITUAL WARFARE Perhaps the most overlooked cause of depression is spiritual warfare.

ILLUSTRATION: Personally I know that the greatest cause of the depression that I have battled over the last year has been a direct result of spiritual warfare. As a fallen minister of the faith I am plagued by not being good enough. Therefore, Satan continues to try to pick me off as contender of the faith. There have been many times that I have wanted to quit in the last year, but I stuck it out. (I’ve learned that as a minister you never resign on a Monday or in the summer because those are times the enemy will beat you down the most.) I’m thankful that God has used many of you to pray for me—even when I didn’t know it. God has heard your prayers and is helping me to overcome the depression Satan has tried to use to cripple me. I’m not going to let the devil win! How many of you would like to help me make this year even better than last year? Let’s take it to the devil this fall and see God do even greater things in and through our church. Let’s not give up.

a) Many doctors and psychologists won’t think of spiritual warfare as a cause for your depression. However I’m here to tell you that spiritual warfare may be the primary cause of your depression. It is not the only cause; Satan will use these other causes to try to beat you down. However, when we know the cause of our depression and recognize how the devil will try to use these things against us, then God can give us wisdom to know how to break free from depression. God want to show us how to climb out of the Valley of Gloom.

b) We discover freedom from depression by learning to follow the footsteps and example of Jesus. Some of you might say, “But Jesus was never depressed!” In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was engaged in perhaps His greatest spiritual battles with Satan. Jesus’ struggle with the devil in Gethsemane was greater than His temptation following the forty days in the wilderness. This was the deciding moment for Jesus. Would he be obedient to the will of the Father and go to the cross or would Jesus try to find a way to escape death? In His struggle Jesus was depressed.
• Mark 14:33 (NIV)
He [Jesus] began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony. (The Message)
Jesus began to be horror-stricken and desperately depressed. (JB Phillips)
• Matthew 26:37 (Dar)
He began to be sorrowful and deeply depressed.
c) In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus not only battled depression, but He also shows us how to climb out of the Valley of Gloom. Jesus show us how we can be free from depression.
II. Jesus’ path to freedom from depression. Six steps to climb out of the Valley of Gloom.
1. Jesus did not isolate Himself.
• Matthew 26:36-37 (NIV)

[36] Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane . . . [37] He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
a) Jesus did not try to win His battle with depression all by Himself. Jesus let others in on the sorrow and grief that filled His heart that night. Jesus surrounded Himself with friends.
b) How often do we do the exact opposite? Too often Christians are imprisoned by themselves because they believe the lie that their depression should be kept as a secret—a deep dark shameful secret that we hide from everyone. When we get depressed we isolate ourselves from other people and try to ‘pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.’

• Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
c) Paul’s primary focus was for us to reach out to others and help them in their time of need, but there is a flip side to this verse. Those in need must be willing to share their pain with others! We are not encouraged to go it alone or to be strong and make it in our own strength. We are to join hands with a friend and share our difficulties with each other.
d) Jesus was open and honest about the trial He was facing; He did not let His depression isolate Him from others. Will we follow His example and not isolate ourselves from others? Sharing our depression with someone else is the first step out of the Valley of Gloom.

2. Jesus did not put on a mask and pretend everything was okay.
• Matthew 26:38 (NIV)
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

a) Jesus not only was with His disciples, but He let them in on the struggle He was going through. Jesus avoided the temptation to put on a mask and say, “I’m the Son of God. I can’t let anyone know I’m hurting because they all look up to me. The disciples just can’t know the truth.”
b) Jesus didn’t just put on a happy face. He did not say He was fine when His heart was being broken in two. Jesus simply shared with His disciples His need.
c) Notice too that Jesus didn’t just tell everyone about His need. Jesus used wisdom about who He shared His need with. Jesus asked His disciples to pray, but then He pulled Peter, James and John aside and shared more openly with them. It was Peter James and John who went with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and saw Jesus in all of His glory and heard the voice of the Father say, “This is my Son; listen to Him.” Now Peter, James and John are the ones brought into Jesus’ Valley of Gloom. It was the disciples who knew Jesus best that He shared more of the details of His depression and the hardship He faced there in Gethsemane.
d) Use wisdom as you share your depression and heartache with others. That doesn’t mean you put on a mask and tell folks who don’t know you as well that you are just fine. Ask them to pray for you; tell them you are in need of God’s strength. But find a trusted friend that you can be open with who will really pray with you about your need.

3. Jesus prayed and was honest with God.

• Matthew 26:39 (NIV)
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

a) Jesus told the Father about His heartache. Understand that Jesus did not come to God with just a two sentence prayer. Jesus spent an hour in prayer pouring out His heart to God. Jesus didn’t hid anything from the Father; instead Jesus was honest and let the Father know exactly what caused His heart to be heavy.
b) I am amazed how some Christians want to try to keep a secret from God! They go through the motions of a worship service, singing songs, offering up lukewarm prayers, and sleeping through a sermon, only to leave with the same problems and difficulties that they came to church with. And their personal prayer closet is no different; if they even bother to take time to pray at all. Be honest with God

• Psalm 51:16-17 (MsgB)
[16] Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. [17] I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

• Psalm 18:6 (NIV)
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
c) Jesus showed us how to climb out of the Valley of Gloom by [1] not isolating himself from others; [2] by resisting the temptation to put on a mask, [3] by being honest with the Father in prayer and,

4. Jesus did not get trapped by bitterness or blame.

• Matthew 26:40-41 (NIV)
[40] Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. [41] “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

• Matthew 26:43-44 (NIV)

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. [44] So he left them . . .
a) The failure of His closest friends to stay away and pray with Him did not keep Jesus from climbing out of the Valley of Gloom. Jesus did not become bitter with His disciples; He didn’t hold a grudge or push them away. Jesus let them sleep and He continued to pray! He not only continued to pray about His need for strength, but He also prayed for His disciples. John 17 is Jesus longest recorded prayer; it is filled with His desire for His disciples and it is prayed in the midst of Jesus depression and sorrow. Jesus didn’t blame the disciples for His problems. Instead He prayed that God would help them!

Lets come together on this attack of our family and body of believers and stand in the gap for them in prayer. I made it this far by the prayers of church family and friends. I made it by the grace of God and you can too. I know there is someone reading this and going through some trial that makes you say I give up, but stand my friend and see the salvation of the Lord. You are at the breaking point of it all being over. Just when you give in your change is just as close. Have faith my friend until your faith has faith and materialized into your purpose. Your circumstance isn’t beyond our God’s abilities.


2 thoughts on “I Thank God For Freeing Me From Depression – Climbing Out of the Valley of Gloom

    SHARAT BABU said:
    June 4, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Thank you for this blessed message. Evangelist Babu

      blessedaaron08 responded:
      June 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      My anointed and blessed “Woman of God” how great it is to know that this bread gave you comfort. Be blessed this week and may God continue to shine His ever loving grace upon you.

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