2/3/2021 God’s Response to Your Depression, Part 2

 

IF YOU HAVE NOT READ PART ONE, STOP. GO BACK.😊

Picking up from yesterday, when depression hits, and it hits hard! Depression is:

An emotion nurtured by the enemy that lowers our spirits, discouraging us, making us feel hopeless and inadequate to the point that we disdain ourselves and question our value in God’s eyes, thereby decreasing and weakening our force and effectiveness in the Kingdom of God.

Depression does not play fair. It toys with you until you are tired of the mental game and give in to it. BUT PRAISE THE LORD, God is coming to saturate your life! Let me remind you of His precious promise to you from Isaiah 41:17-20.

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst,

I the LORD will hear them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys:

I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle,

And the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together.

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together,

That the word of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.”

God has come to replenish you and plant those trees, and what amazing trees they are! Psalms 1 tells us that the righteous are like trees planted by the rivers of water that bring forth fruit in the right season. Not just one righteous tree, but many trees of righteousness. Elijah got depressed, thinking he was the only one left, and God reminded him that there were seven thousand who had not bowed to Baal. There are more than one tree and more than one type. In this case, God is planting seven specific trees in your desert place.

First, God is going to plant the cedar. The cedar is known for the firmness and tenacity of its roots. When you walk through the desert, God is going to give you a tenaciousness as you remain connected to Him and others. He will strengthen what is already a part of you. Interestingly, the giant redwood tree does not withstand storms because it has deep roots, but roots that interlock with those of another. It is essential not to remain isolated when you feel depressed. Often, the first thing people do when they feel down is to retreat from their friends, family, church, and sometimes God Himself. However, if we stay connected and allow our lives to intertwine with others in our community, it will help us withstand when depression and other storms hit.

Secondly, He is planting the shittah, also known as the acacia, tree. This tree’s wood was used to build the ark of the covenant and does not deteriorate easily. That, dear one, is the beauty of our covenant with the Great I AM. He has cut a covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ with us. If you are a believer, that covenant has staying power! God has not given up on you! He also has placed you in covenant with other believers. Again, do not withdraw, but come and be encouraged by your fellow believers. You are NOT alone in this. If you are experiencing depression and do not know Christ as Lord and Savior, repent and believe! He is waiting to enter a covenant relationship with you. He’s already paid the price and presented Himself as the gift, you have but to repent and receive. Jesus hung on a tree and your depression along with Him. He wants you to move into His resurrection life!

Another tree God plants in the wilderness for the poor and needy is the myrtle tree, known for its versatility. This heat-loving tree can withstand many environments and seasons. It’s energy-efficient, not wasting anything. God has planted around you those people who will stand with you and help you overcome the winter of your depression. These are people who have proverbially been there, done that, and come through on the other side. The aromatic oil that comes forth from this tree is both cleansing and uplifting. The anointing of God is upon these people to help you to flexibly weather this storm and curb the self-defeating feelings in you. God is for you, and your life is a sweet-smelling fragrance to Him!

The oil tree, or olive tree, is indicative of a voluntary thanksgiving offering. There are people around you that are thanking God for your presence in their lives. You are a gift, and as these people surround you, the oil of their friendship soothes the cracked parts of your life, bringing clarity and wholeness once again. These trees remind us to be thankful for ourselves. Thankfulness can be a powerful weapon against depression. By it, we are lifted out of despair, and our mourning turned to dancing.

God is also planting a fir tree. Some translations may say Cyprus, which was used in the making of musical instruments. When you become an instrument of praise and worship in the hands of Almighty God, instead of being pushed down, you are elevated into His presence. God rejoices over you with singing, and He places people in your path to do the same. No matter how hard it may seem at times, put on a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness!

In addition to all that He has already planted, He adds the pine tree. These are our enduring and lasting relationships, our families, spouses, and dear friends. Often these are the people who have known you and your heart intimately. They desire to see God’s best for you and refuse to let you go. These are the ones who see a well from which to bring refreshing and remind us that He is the God Who Sees.

The final tree that God plants in your wilderness is the box tree. It, too, is cedar but is specifically known for its erectness. Often when we are depressed, we are awash with shame and our heads hang low. However, shame also was nailed to the cross of Christ, and you can stand tall, head erect without avoiding people or diverting your eyes. You are a child of the Most High, the apple of His eye!

What a beautiful, gracious, wonderful gift God has given to us poor and needy people – the gift of Himself and others! When we are attacked with depression, God not only saturates our spirits, but He plants alongside us. When we won’t or can’t make a move because we’re immobilized by depression, God meets us where we are and ensures we have everything we need: a tenacious spirit, covenant relationship with Him, friendships that help us weather the storm, a spirit of thankfulness and worship, a family who refuse to allow us to camp in our wilderness, and a release from all shame related to depression! What an incredible God! He does not lay a greater burden upon us in our neediness but comes and pours out His presence and encourages us through others.

Remember, the only condition is that the poor and needy be seeking. I know that the enemy can make it seem that this is the most difficult thing to do when you are depressed but call out to Christ. He promises to hear and act. He does not say “I might,” but “I will!”

A word of warning: sometimes, when the enemy has us in the grips of depression, he will produce an ax with which we can lash out and harm others. Instead of swinging with the ax, run to the shade of the trees God is planting in your wilderness. Allow Him to saturate you with His Word. Allow safe people to protect you in your fragility. If you cannot read the Word for yourself, many audio files of the Bible exist on youtube.com. The same is true for worship music. Listen and allow yourself to come into agreement with what God is saying, and then verbalize it. Confide in someone – a pastor, friend, or family member. Allow your roots to interlock with those of others who will pray and encourage you. Whatever you do, do not withdraw. We all need and were designed for community.

A last thought – only a few verses earlier in Isaiah 41:10, God tells you, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold onto you with My righteous right hand.” God will not let you go. You are infinitely valuable to Him, and God has an incredible plan for your life. One in which you stand tall yourself, a tree of righteousness planted by the Lord. You will come out on the other side; you will be fruitful again. Below I have included some Scriptures for you to begin to meditate on, and remember, you are loved immensely, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!

Scripture Swords to Use Against Depression

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 33:27 – The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

2 Samuel 22:17-22 – He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God.

2 Samuel 22:29 – You are my lamp O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 – Anyone who is among the living has hope.

Psalms 9:9 – The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 27:14 – Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Psalm 31:22,24 – You heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help… Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 34:18, 19 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Psalm 37:23-24 – If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 43:5 – Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Psalm 62:5 – Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 126:5 – Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.

Psalm 143:7-8 – Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I will lift up my soul.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 145:14 – The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

Proverbs 12:25 – Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.

Isaiah 26:3-4, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusts in Thee. Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

Isaiah 35:10 – And the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 40:31, But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 53:4 – Surely, he took up our sicknesses and carried our sorrows.

Mark 9:23 – Everything is possible for him who believes.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 2:9 – The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials.

1 Peter 4:12-13 – Dear Friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

2/2/21 God’s Response to Your Depression, Part 1

Life has not been easy for anyone, particularly the past year with Covid-19 and the lockdown, not to mention the election. Anxiety, worry, fear – dare we say – depression. Yes, we are in the midst of a battle, and war is tiring. Sometimes we find ourselves wondering where God is; does He see? Does He hear? Well, the nation of Judah found itself in a similar position.

The nation of Judah was about to be judged, and things were not going so well for those who worshipped the true God. Isaiah, chapter 39, recounts how the Lord spared the life of Hezekiah, king of Judah. In response, the King of Babylon sent emissaries to “rejoice” with Hezekiah. While they were there, King Hezekiah, in his pride, foolishly showed these ambassadors all the treasures of the kingdom, including the Lord’s temple. The Lord pronounces judgment upon the nation for its pride and sin while also sparing Hezekiah. His response: “Good is the word of the LORD which thou has spoken…for there shall be peach and truth in my days.” In so doing, he threw the next generation under the bus, including his son, who would be considered the evilest of kings and who would subsequently murder Isaiah, the prophet. There was no repentance in Hezekiah; he was ok with it all, as long as it did not affect him.

The clock was counting down. Hezekiah would not live long, and the idea of God’s judgment brought anxiety, worry, fear, and, yes, depression. Wonderfully, God did not stop at pronouncing judgment. At the same time, He released a word of comfort to His people, and not just once. He comforts them first with the promise of the coming Messiah and a reminder of His own greatness (Is. 40). When depression comes knocking, first, remember that Jesus is on His way. His return is imminent! We serve a majestic and mighty God! In this we can take comfort. But what about while we are waiting for His return, and the spiritual atmosphere around us grows darker and more menacing?

I encourage you to read the entirety of Isaiah, chapters 40 and 41 – and do so aloud. Faith comes by hearing! Throughout chapter 41, God reiterates that they are His people, and they are not to fear. I, however, want to focus on specifically verses 17-20.

 

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst,

I the LORD will hear them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys:

I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle,

And the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, the pine, and the box tree together.

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together,

That the word of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.”

Before we explore the implication of these verses, let’s first define what depression precisely is. After all, I would say the vast majority of us would probably admit we have felt it, even if we could not define it. To depress means to press, pull, or push down, lower in value or suppress; to decrease the force or activity of, and discourage, sadden, and weaken. Webster’s dictionary tells us that it is “an emotional condition characterized by hopelessness and inadequacy.” When I found myself in such a state, the Lord gave me the following definition of depression:

An emotion nurtured by the enemy that lowers our spirits, discouraging us, making us feel hopeless and inadequate to the point that we disdain ourselves and question our value In God’s eyes, thereby decreasing and weakening our force and effectiveness in the Kingdom of God.

Let me first tell you that God created us as emotional beings, and emotions in and of themselves are not sinful. So, DO NOT RECEIVE CONDEMNATION! However, sometimes the enemy exploits these emotions to paralyze us, and as a result, we are prevented from walking in the power and joy God has granted us as His children. That said, let’s look at this beautiful promise God has given to us as His people.

First, this passage is about those who are poor and needy. Before you think that you do not fall into this category, let’s do a short word study. The word for poor here has the connotation of being depressed in mind and circumstances. It also suggests those who are walking in condemnation or guilt. Because people review it over and over in their minds, they chasten and deal harshly with themselves. The word needy is a sense of being destitute and hopeless, knowing there is a sense of want and neediness, but feeling entirely on your own. So, let me ask, how are you feeling about being in this category of a poor and needy person? I have certainly been there! If you are there now, then this is a wonderful word specifically for you! The only prerequisite to receiving this promise is that the poor and needy be seeking, searching Him out, really wanting to find water. We know from Scripture that water has several implications, but mainly the water of God’s Word. When you feel inferior and needy, and God seems silent, and you seek a word, to the point that your tongue fails for thirst, the Lord promises to hear you, refusing to forsake you!

When you are depressed, it feels as though words don’t suffice for the deep hurt, rejection, sense of self-loathing, and sadness you are experiencing. I know. I suffered severe postpartum depression with our oldest son (now nineteen), and depression will make you think about things that would never gain access to your mind when it is at rest and sound. Sometimes, if it lasts long enough, words can become your worst enemy as you give mental assent to the enemy’s lies, and you find those lies coming out of your mouth. My dear friend, God hears you amid your despair. He is near and has something extraordinary He is speaking over you! Choose to come into agreement with what He is saying.

When we are depressed, we often feel that God is judging us, and we begin to recount every horrible thing that has happened in our lives that could justify God allowing this to happen. The enemy makes us feel unworthy to approach the Lord about our emotions. Interestingly, God tells us that He will open rivers in high places. What does that mean? High places mean the place where Yah has judged. God promises to release His healing word – the word that reminds us that we are redeemed by the blood of Christ. He is opening rivers in the place where you feel condemned, and it’s not just any water He’s releasing, but glistening water! He is pronouncing a word that sparkles like the sheen of a running stream with cheerfulness and light-heartedness – a word of delight!

He also promises to open fountains in valleys, providing a source of satisfaction from which you can drink. This water will fill in the gaps of what has broken and split apart in your life. In the wilderness, He will create a pool of water. In your desert place, when your tongue cleaves to the roof of your mouth when words will not come, when your spirit is parched and dehydrated, in the place of your barrenness, that solitary place, where you are isolated and alone with the tormenting thoughts of what was, or is, or what might come, God breaks through as the One WHO was, and is, and is to come – the Eternal Reality crushing every lie and revealing Himself to you! He is not bringing just a little refreshment, but all of Himself into your situation!

In Scripture, water can also have the connotation of semen – that which creates life and reproduces. God is coming into your circumstance as the God who is not only keeping you alive but the God in whom you live and move and have your being. The God who causes you to thrive to the point that growth and productivity can once again occur not only promises to pour out streams of His presence in your life, but He is also bringing a shovel with Him, intent on planting something in you. And what is He planting? Trees. Seven to be exact – the number of completion. His desire is that you not only return from the brink of despair but return to a garden of rest and nourishment.

Part Two Tomorrow