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WARNING: Depressive Episode Ahead!

Two More Potential Dangers of Depression   After decades of experiencing chronic depression, I’m intimately acquainted with the potential pitfalls.  In my previous post, I identified two: *Depression Spawns Self-Centeredness *Depression Engenders Doubts About Beliefs In today’s post I share two additional warnings. These are more sobering than the first two.   1.  Depression Increases Vulnerability To Temptation Conditions that often accompany depression include adrenalin depletion, fatigue, apathy, hopelessness, self-condemnation, and sometimes, emotional numbness, or an incapacity to feel or experience pleasure. A person who’s negative about the possibility of spiritual growth or achievements in life will more likely succumb to sins he has formerly resisted. A “What’s the use!?” attitude may envelop him.  It’s easier to rationalize sin because it seems as if past obedience hasn’t improved his lot, or it’s harder to trust the Holy Spirit for continued resistance while in a state of mental or emotional frailty. When someone experiences a robotic incapacity to feel pleasure in things or people that normally evoke joy, the lure of sin that promises a quick fix–a titillation of the senses– becomes increasingly attractive. This is one explanation for sins in the sexual sphere.  For example, yielding to masturbation or pornography …

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WHEN THE BRANCHES ARE BARE

Truths to Encourage Us When We’re Despondent over Lack of Fruit in Ministry   *This is a longer-than-usual post.  But it’s an important one!  Whether you are a serious volunteer (lay Bible teacher, personal witnessing, etc.) or a vocational Christian leader, the following truths can massage a heart that’s discouraged about ministry, particularly if the issue is lack of apparent fruitfulness.   Tears streamed down Jerry’s red cheeks.  His chin quivered, making talk difficult.  “I feel like a failure,” he stammered.  “Did I waste those years in seminary?  I’m wondering if God called me into the ministry, after all.  Things just aren’t working out the way I’d planned.” What spawns Jerry’s perplexity is the inability to land a ministry position since he graduated two years ago.  He interviewed with three churches and two parachurch organizations, but wasn’t hired.  He languishes in a low-level administrative job, frustrated because his potential remains untapped, his gifts dormant.  The rejections are siphoning off his confidence.  “I just want someone to want me,” he laments. Discouragement over a period of barrenness in ministry affects laypersons as well as vocational workers.  In John 15, Jesus identified His followers as branches who are expected to bear fruit.  Yet it’s …

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3 REASONS I AM GRATEFUL FOR DEPRESSION

Don’t hoist the wrong conclusion from this post. I detest depression.  I loathe the inertia, the sad countenance, and negative thinking that accompanies most episodes of despondency.  And through spiritual disciplines, counseling, medications–or a combination of these weapons–I’ll fight for my joy until I take my last breath. But since God has not yet removed this nemesis, I’ve identified a few benefits of it, or reasons why He hasn’t yanked out this thorn in my flesh. Though God knows I yearn for the demise of it, nonetheless I thanked Him recently for these benefits of chronic depression.    Depression Enhances God’s Glory and Reputation in My Life and Ministry. Psalm 50:15 suggests that a need or problem in my life provides a rich opportunity for God to receive more honor:  “Call on Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”   In this verse, there’s a direct grammatical link between honoring God, and the desperation that causes me to cry out to Him. When trouble spawns dependence on Him, I give God an opportunity to do what only He can do:  remove the cause of trouble, or more often, strengthen me on the inside so I …

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CAN JOY COEXIST WITH AFFLICTION?

Introducing You to Chronic Joy Ministry One of the “content categories” for my posts on depression and faith is to familiarize you with helpful resources: books, blogs, and organizations. Today’s post is an interview with the President and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy Ministry, Pamela Piquette. The ministry includes, but isn’t limited to, persons who are chronically depressed. Here’s their mission statement: Radical Hope. Compassionate Change. Equipping Those Affected by Chronic Physical and Mental Illness through Community and Education Rooted in Jesus Christ.   When and why did you launch Chronic Joy Ministry? Chronic Joy began because we felt such a profound need to do something for those affected by chronic illness. In addition, there is a deeply personal connection that inspired those first steps. My daughter and I–as well as my ministry partner and co-founder, Cindee Snider Re, and four of her five children–have multiple chronic illnesses that dramatically alter our lives. We all have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which by definition affects connective tissue in the body responsible for supporting and structuring skin, blood vessels, bones, and organs.  One result is a deficit in the protein collagen. Categories of EDS, as well as the nature and severity of symptoms, vary among individuals. …

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WHEN GOD’S SPIRIT GAVE ME WRITER’S BLOCK

The Story of an Unfinished Poem I haven’t ever tried to kill myself, nor have I been whisker-close to doing so.  But I have thought that death would be preferable to living.  A lot of times. When a pall of depression overwhelms me, negative thoughts vie for control of my spirit:  hopelessness about immature traits that I still display; frustration over unanswered prayers for loved ones; battle-weariness due to being pummeled again and again by temptation; dismay due to an incapacity to smile or to laugh; aggravating physical pain that escalates as I age, especially due to chronic back issues. I’m well aware that we all know pain and struggles, but a depressed mind exaggerates the normal stressors and problems that everybody experiences. Often, when I’m in the vise-grip of despair, I try to describe my inner state in poetic form.  Today I began scribbling such a poem.  The first two lines immediately popped into my mind: I want to die.  The reasons why do not add up.  They multiply.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But I couldn’t finish it. I struggled more than usual to depict my emotional state in words. I identified a few reasons why death would be better (so I thought), …

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THERE IS A KIND OF HEALING MORE IMPORTANT THAN PHYSICAL

Chronically ill? Recently lost a loved one? Recurring episodes of depression? Physical disability? If any of these conditions describe you or someone you love, absorb the perspectives and comfort of Joni Eareckson Tada’s Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Toward Deeper Healing (NavPress, 2014). Joni, a quadriplegic for almost 51 years since a diving accident at age 16, writes a compact but powerful  devotional book marked by raw transparency and deep knowledge of God’s Word.  Each reading offers a snippet from her story, and Bible texts that sustain her. Insights I gleaned include, but certainly aren’t limited to, the following:   *Honest, desperate prayer is a means of resiliency during affliction. One of my highlighted excerpts is this: “God may not always say yes to specific requests at specific times, but He will always say yes to the cry of a hungry heart that needs Him more than anything else.”  She also wrote, “I learned a long time ago to stop asking God why, but I frequently ask Him for how.  How am I going to go forward?  How can I endure this?  How can I stay positive and productive as I battle the chronic pain?”   *Memorizing Scripture fuels persistence during suffering. She views her …