Do you struggle with depression from time to time? I do. Almost everyone does. At the end of his brief epistle (letter) to the church he established in Philippi, the mighty Apostle Paul gives them some practical advice on how to address the problem of depression:
“4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7; NKJV)
Paul tells them to rejoice in the Lord – Always! Not just in the good times, but always, regardless of circumstances. Their circumstances were that they were living in a world that had become extremely hostile to Christians. There was much danger and persecution. Believers were being killed, sometimes brutally.
When we are struggling with depression, or struggling with our circumstances, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us concentrate on what the Lord has done for us rather than concentrating on what the world has done to us. We need to concentrate on our future in Christ rather than our past in this world.
If the cares of this world are getting us down, we mustn’t live there. If we do, our anxieties will throw us into an emotional hole filled with the quicksand of joylessness. Instead, we must pray! We must pray, and pray some more, until the peace of God flows over us like a gentle breeze.
Paul goes on to tell us how to stay out of those emotional holes in the future:
“4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 4:9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8–9; NKJV)
Paul reminds us of the importance of dwelling on Him and not our problems, of dwelling on what He’s already done for us instead of all of the negative things that come into every life as the result of living in a fallen world. We need to dwell on these things … these things that are true, noble things that will lift our hearts, just things, pure things, lovely things, virtuous things, praiseworthy things.
We need to park our minds there, on those things. God will come alongside us in that process. He will be with us there because He never leaves us or forsakes us. Actually, we forsake ourselves. Think about it.
By Gary Swanson