The heart is oh so complex! So many things go into forming the heart all the way from infancy to a persons current age, like circumstances, parental temperaments, world events and friends. Needless to say, its probably the most complex thing in the universe. This heart of ours is also not perfect, as vast as it is. At times we go through stages of what we call depression. It’s no fun! As one who has had bouts of depression (relatively mild causes thank God), you want anything but to be in that state of emotion. You’re desperate!! In that state you reach for whatever help you can get. Some go to the bar and the bottle, others find susbtances to control their brain, and some just turn off and can’t get out of the house. In those times we need tools, tools with which to fix ourselves. We need weapons, weapons to shoot down the lies of the evil one. It is in this light I wish to share with you some thoughts from D. Martin Lloyd-Jones that has helped me IMMENSELY fight depression and realize what it really is.
First, he calls it spiritual depression, which makes sense, in that we are all spiritual. All the time, we never cease to be spiritual beings. Either we are or we are not. In the first chapter he goes into the causes of spiritual depression. One basic cause he doesn’t go into very much, because he feels it is not a major cause for it, but is the problem of comparison.
“There are many people who seem to be in trouble because they are more or less living on other peoples experiences, or are coveting other peoples experiences; and it is because they are always looking at persons and their stories instead of frist grasping the teaching [principles with which to live from the Bible], they should have forewarned and safeguarded us against that particular danger [spiritual depression].” (Lloyd-Jones, P. 11)
He more specifically goes into other reasons why people suffer depression. He argues that there are people whose temperaments are more vulnerable to spiritual depression, and other reasons. But I want to hone in one the main reason why people suffer from spiritual depression.
“I think I can put it finally like this: the ultimate cause of all spiritual depression is unbelief….It is because we listen to the devil instead of listening to God that we go down before him and fall before his attacks. That is why the psalmist keeps on saying to himself: “Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise Him…” He reminds himself of God. Why? Because he was depressed and had forgotten God, so that his faith and his belief in God in God’s power, and in His relationship to God, were not what they ought to be.” (Llody-Jones P. 20)
In those moments when we are at our wits end, we find ourselves having culminated to the point of forgetting who we are in God, what He has done for us, and what He will keep doing for us. In John Piper’s book “Future Grace”, future grace is one of the biggest weapons with which we can fight depression. We REMEMBER that has provisioned eternally a measure of grace to those who love Him. It means He’s taken care of us!! His grace is known to us from the ways he’s worked in our lives, and we are hopeful in looking to the future with the perfect knowledge that God will provide Grace, His Grace, for every moment of our lives. It is here I would say that John Piper’s teaching and D. Martin Lloyd-Jones teaching combine to make the most powerful idea against depression. Consider Lloyd-Jones:
“I say we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us![Emphasis added] Do you realize what that means? I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow ourself to talk to us instead of talking to our self…Take those thoughts that come to you in the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you….You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself ‘Hope in God’- instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and What God is and What God has done, and what God has pledged himself to do.” (Lloyd-Jones P. 21)
In sum, preach to yourself! Don’t let doubt creep into your heart. Unbelief is the very thing that springs up from doubt. Do you believe the Word of God to be true, then stand on it like you believe it is. When you are in the those difficult times, fast from the influences around you, and devour God’s Holy Word!! Memmorize it!! Don’t let go until you hear from Him!! Press on!! His Grace is Sufficient!!
Consider that if you are in one of those times, God has put you in the middle of the desert for a reason, to ask you one question, “Now that you are despondent and desperate, who are you going to turn to? I’m here, but who are you going to turn to?” Are you ridiculously going to turn away from his hand in search of water on your own, or will you let the master of this world show you the way to the deepest springs of life to be satisfied!!