2 Corinthians and Philippians reveal Paul’s joy in spite of the trials he experienced. He was able to learn contentment regardless of his circumstances and found his strength in Christ. We can be miserable in a mansion and ecstatic in a mud hut – circumstances do not have to dictate our happiness and joy.
There are benefits we can gain from our suffering, such as developing a closer relationship with God and being a testimony to others of His grace in our lives. 1 Peter gives us God’s purposes in suffering and helps our perspective to be that of glorifying God in our lives. It also reminds us that we have received an eternal inheritance.
In James 1, we see that trials produce maturity and that perseverance in trials produces joy. Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 4 remind us that this world is temporary and there is future glory that awaits us.
If we lived in such a way that our focus was on bringing glory and pleasure to God, we would not be so wrapped up in gossip but in encouraging each other. We would not let anger and petty differences keep us from ministering to those in need.
Lie: If I feel something, it must be true.
Truth: My feelings cannot always be trusted. They often have little to do with reality and easily deceive me. I must choose to reject any feelings that are not consistent with the Truth.
Lie: I can’t control my emotions.
Truth: I do not have to be controlled by my emotions. I can choose to fix my mind on the Truth, to take every thought captive to the Truth, and to let God control my emotions.
Lie: I can’t help how I respond when my hormones are out of whack.
Truth: By God’s grace, I can choose to obey Him regardless of how I feel. There is no excuse for ungodly attitudes, responses, or behavior. My physical and emotional cycles and seasons are under the control of my Creator.
Lie: The answer to depression must first be sought in medication and/or psychotherapy.
Truth: Physical and emotional symptoms of depression may be the fruit of issues in the spirit that need to be addressed. If depression did not originate as a physical problem, medication will not permanently relieve it.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us take captive every thought. This can make a difference for us by causing us to stop and ask whether our thoughts are truth or not.
God has provided His Holy Spirit to help us in dealing with our emotions during times of hormonal chaos. These times of fluctuating emotions can draw us closer to God by causing us to rely on Him to help control our mood swings.
My opinion on part of why depression has become so widespread is the high expectations that are placed on women nowadays which causes too much stress. Some of the heart issues that may result in depression are unresolved anger and bitterness, lack of forgiveness. Without dealing with these issues, we will rot from the inside out. God has made His Word available for help in dealing with depression as well as the encouragement of fellow believers to come alongside us during our difficult times.
In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah is in anguish. Ultimately he places his hope in the Lord.
The above was originally from 2006 when I did this study. I do want to clarify that I don’t think it is wrong to take medication for depression. Medicine should not be used to just mask the symptoms of depression, but can help to correct any chemical imbalances. Depression can be a result of many things, some of which are physically based. While I think it is important to determine what may be causing the depression and work on any deeper-rooted issues involved, I also think medication can help to clear the mind and re-align the chemicals properly in order to deal with the underlying issues more clearly. Telling someone who is depressed to just “snap out of it” is very hurtful and not at all helpful. Believe me, if they were able to snap out of it on their own, they would! If suffering from depression, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any physical problems that may be involved (ie thyroid imbalance). Medication can be a temporary stop-gap to help in treating depression and should not automatically be ruled out by Christians as an option.
This book ties in somewhat with the lies that we tell ourselves and the truth that we need to remember. I read this book several years ago. Here are some thoughts from it:
Lie: I’m not worth anything.
Truth: My value is not determined by what others think of me or what I think of myself. My value is determined by how God views me – and I am precious to Him.
Lie: I need to learn to love myself.
Truth: By faith, I need to receive God’s love for me. I naturally love myself; I need to deny myself and let God love others through me.
Lie: I can’t help the way I am.
Truth: If I am God’s child, I can choose to obey Him. I am responsible for my own choices. God’s Spirit can change me.
Lie: I have my rights.
Truth: Claiming rights will put me in bondage. Yielding rights will set me free.
Lie: Physical beauty matters more than inner beauty.
Truth: Physical beauty is fleeting. The beauty that matters most to God is the beauty of my inner spirit and character.
Lie: I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings.
Truth: I will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven. The deepest longings of my heart cannot be fulfilled by any person or thing. My unfulfilled longings can help me look forward to heaven.
The criteria that most people use to evaluate their worth and others’ worth is their performance and what other people think of them. The danger of focusing on positive self-esteem and learning to love ourselves is that the focus becomes all about me. Luke 12:4-7 reassures us that God notices even the sparrows; how much more will He take care of us.
Our source of power for living a new life is in Christ. We have died to our old life through Him. Galatians 5:16-17 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 talk about the new nature we’ve been given and that the Holy Spirit resides in us.
Yielding our rights affects are relationship with God and others. It can produce less conflict when we are not so focused on getting what is “owed” us.
Practical ways that Christian women can cultivate inner beauty are through compassion to others and reaching out with acts of kindness.
A focus on eternity can help us to deal with unfulfilled longings. It reminds us that this world is not our true home. See Hebrews 11:13-16.
“Are we mistaken and even misled in presuming people are saved who have not allowed their relationship with God to take hold and grow? What about someone who’s never experienced meaningful changes in his or her life?
“For example, what if I pray for salvation and say my heart belongs to Christ and yet I maintain a sexual relationship with a woman who’s not my wife? If I’ve demonstrated no change – I don’t pray (disdain relationship with God), ignore my Bible (don’t want to hear God speak), avoid church (reject connection with Christ-followers), and am disinterested in or loathe to grow closer to Christ (perhaps my life is even the same as it was before)…am I truly a Christian?
“Thankfully, God is the only and final judge. He knows whose faith is genuine…Through it all, Paul’s words once again ring loudly in my ears: ‘If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’
“Four other words scream through my brain, as well: ‘I never knew you.‘
“These are horrible words to consider – maybe the most terrifying in the Bible. Jesus spoke them while teaching on a mountainside:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”
“Is Jesus saying it’s all about a perfect score? If I don’t always do the do’s and avoid the don’ts…is it possible I could miss eternity too?
“The answer is no….Change does not bring about salvation – rather, genuine salvation produces change in us as God patiently works it all out in us, with us, step by step.
“Here’s something that troubles me: Too often when believers exhibit no change in their lives or revert to former lifestyles, we refer to them as ‘unsanctified believers’ or ‘carnal Christians’ (or the like). Based on my research, not theology, the term carnal Christian appears to be useless with regard to discipleship and genuine faith.
“From a scientific standpoint, if no behavior separates the ‘carnal Christian’ from the non-Christian, there’s no such thing as a carnal Christian. Rather, that person made a profession of faith but remains (persists, still is rooted) in sinfulness. Again, only God can judge the heart. But where there’s no changed behavior, there’s reason to suspect there is no genuineness of salvation.
“Here’s what Jesus said:
“Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
“The test of true life in Christ is spiritual growth, not verbal profession.”
-from the book Unstuck by Arnie Cole & Michael Ross