Depression: You are Not Alone

by Monica Schmelter

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. Hebrews 4:15 AMP

For 25 years I’ve had the honor of hosting the Bridges television program. My guests have ranged from the famous to the girl next door. No topic is off limits – and the Bible is our guide. I’ve been intentional about discussing mental health on a regular basis.

Why then was I surprised to find myself struggling with depression? I tried to shake it off. I stepped up my daily Bible reading and prayer. I followed the experts’ suggestions like frequent exercise, proper rest, and nutrition. I visited a Christian counselor. I counted my blessings. None of my efforts seemed to make a lasting difference.

When I spoke with a friend she mentioned talking to my doctor about an anti-depressant. Since nothing else seemed to be working, I followed up on her suggestion. Thankfully, my Dr. recognized that I needed help and wrote a prescription.

As I journeyed forward, Hebrews 4:15 AMP spoke volumes to me. I am not alone, and neither are you. I am grateful that our High Priest, Jesus Christ, is well acquainted with what it’s like to be human. Whether it’s the pain of betrayal or false accusations or any other human trial, He’s been there, and He understands. My depression didn’t catch Him by surprise or disqualify me from being His daughter. He saw the trauma I experienced, the betrayal I encountered, and He heard my every single prayer for relief.

As I committed this Scripture to memory, I began to appreciate more fully how His sinless life gives us endless hope. He is our High priest, our Advocate, and our example. This means whether it’s a sunny day, or a dark season, He is there with compassion and the power to rise above it all.

The power to rise above it all didn’t make my bout with depression dissipate immediately. What it does provide me is the comfort of knowing I am never alone and never without hope. The same is true for all who put their trust in Jesus Christ.

In our culture we celebrate instant results and quick fixes. If given the choice, I’ll take a suddenly over a slowly any day of the week. I would love to tell you my season of depression is over – but it’s not. I still have hard days, and sometimes I cry at the most awkward moments.

What I can share with you is that I am growing closer to our Savior. You can too. As we see Him as our compassionate Savior, we can open our hearts to Him with complete honesty and zero shame.

As I have opened my heart to Him more fully, He has  blessed me with a deeper sense of His presence. He is healing my hurting heart over time. He has been so patient, and He has graced me with the ability to continue to love and serve my family and work in Christian Television.

Since He is no respecter of persons, He will do the same for you. Whether it’s depression or some other malady, He stands ready as our Compassionate High Priest to receive you. You don’t have to justify or explain your humanity. He understands. Will you call on Him today?

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Monica Schmelter is the General Manager of WHTN, Christian Television Network and host of daily television show Bridges. When people ask her why she smiles and nods so much while she’s interviewing guests she replies, “Oh that’s simple I am trying to think of what to say next”. You can watch Bridges on demand at monicaschmelter.com

Join the conversation: Have you struggled with depression? What has God taught you in that hard place?

God’s Got This

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.                                                               1 Samuel 30:6b ESV

I’d been praying about my situation for weeks. Friends as well as our pastors were praying for me, yet I still wasn’t at peace. This particular Sunday when I walked into church, the pastor must’ve sensed my discouragement or seen it by the look on my face.

During the worship service, he walked up to me and said, “God’s got this. You know that, right?”

I nodded in agreement. I knew God had it all under control, but the pastor’s question kept echoing in my brain. I mulled it over all afternoon. Did I really trust God with my situation? And if so, why was I still feeling down?

When we offer our most desperate prayers to God, we trust Him to work on our behalf with His love, mercy, and peace. We know we can rely on Him in our daily decisions and toughest challenges. But honestly, when I’m facing those challenges, it’s hard to stay positive, even when I’ve given it to God in prayer.

David knew this. In today’s key verse, David felt alone because of his circumstances. He had no one to turn to for prayer support. In fact, all his men were so distressed, they talked about taking it out on David. When he had nowhere else to turn, he knew where to find encouragement. He “strengthened himself in the Lord.”

“Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, ‘Bring me the ephod’” (1 Samuel 30:7 NIV). (The ephod was a decorated priestly garment that Abithar had brought to David in 1 Samuel 23:6.)

Holding the ephod, David sought the Lord and His will in their situation. Even though surrounded by men weeping in despair, David turned to God and discovered hope: the promise for certain victory over the enemy.

Sometimes in life, we will be surrounded by the faithful prayers of family and friends. Our hearts will be uplifted as we know others are holding us up in our trial. Then there will be other times when we feel alone and unsure where to turn. We’ve prayed, but we still feel discouraged. In those moments, we cannot give in to despair. Instead, we must encourage ourselves with the Truth.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Are you in a place of discouragement, even after crying out to God in prayer? Are you struggling to feel the peace that passes understanding? Let’s take our example from David today. We will have moments when we feel down, but that doesn’t have to stop us from seeking the One who never fails us. God promises to provide for our needs, and we can trust Him. Let’s remember His promises as we say these words together:

I will encourage myself today in what I know to be true. God’s got this.

TWEETABLE
God’s Got This – encouragement from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brown

About the author: Kristine Brown is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan. Discover more encouragement from Kristine to help you “become more than yourself through God’s Word” at her website,  kristinebrown.net.

In her new book, Over It. Devotional for Teen Girls, Kristine uncovers the truth about comparison. Teens will discover that they are not alone in the struggle and will find contentment in their God-given identity. Through personal stories and easy-to -understand biblical thinking, Over It offers help and hope. Come along for the journey, beautiful girl. This book is for you.

Join the conversation: What do you know about God that encourages you to trust Him?

 

Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!

by Sheryl Giesbrecht Turner @SGiesbrecht

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.                                                                                                                                                   Psalm 145:14 NIV

I’m intrigued by stories of personal injury survivors. Is it possible to survive a free-fall from the Sears Tower in Chicago? The answer is yes. Or what if you fulfill a lifelong dream of skydiving, and your parachute fails, could you survive the fall? The answer is still yes. The wikiHow site says, “Hundreds maybe thousands of people have fallen from such heights and lived to tell the tale.”

You and I can increase our chances of physical survival by putting their helpful hints to use. We may not fall from a plane, but accidental falls happen when we least expect them. It’s just a part of life.

Beyond the literal, physical ways we trip, teeter, or collapse, life can bring spiritual or emotional challenges that can move us out of our comfort zones. Facing those things can plunge us into aimless descent. Ever feel like you’ve been tripped up by an addiction? Tormented by shame? Slipped up by doubt? Fallen headlong into depression?

God is near and waits for us to ask Him for help to get back up when the circumstances of life knock us into a downward spiral.

I’ve found it helps for me to reach out to Him in times of difficulty: like doubt, despair, depression, disappointment, disease, destruction, divorce, discouragement, domestic violence or grief. Even when I don’t really feel like asking for help, God’s hand is already extended to me. His will for us when we are down and out is for us to turn to Him and ask for a hand-up, lacing our fingers with His. God’s will for us is completeness and wholeness. He wants us to more than survive. He wants us to thrive! Psalm 145:14 says, “God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG).

Dear Lord, thank you for reaching out to help me get back up. I choose to hold on to you. Thank you for giving me a hand, for giving me a fresh start and for allowing me a second chance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

TWEETABLE
Don’t Just Survive – Thrive! @SGiesbrecht on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheryl giesbrechtAbout the author: Exchanging hurt for hope is Sheryl Giesbrecht’s focus—a message she shares with audiences as a radio and television personality, author and speaker. She served as Focus on the Family’s columnist for Pastor’s Wives for four years. Hundreds of her columns, magazine, It'll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth by [Giesbrecht Turner, Sheryl]and devotional articles have appeared in Focus on The Family Magazine and many others.

Sheryl is the author of It’ll Be Okay: Finding God When Doubt Hides the Truth (Redemption Press, March 2018). When we don’t get answers or see God’s guiding hand, it’s hard to keep moving forward in faith. Does God see me? Does he hear me? Does he care? Many Christians confuse doubt with unbelief and are afraid to admit those fears, but God is not threatened by our questions, and doubt does not negate our faith. Find a deeper understanding of the role doubt plays in your spiritual growth–and how learning to doubt your doubts enables faith to prevail.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced God’s saving power when you were down and out? Please share!

A Sunrise of Strength

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

One morning I couldn’t shake the gloomies. Although I was half-awake, I started focusing on the wrong thing, and I needed God’s help to refocus my attention and strengthen my heart. Even though I wanted more sleep, I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on the verse I needed.

Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! Isaiah 52:1 NKJV

The “awake, awake!” part got my attention. But more importantly, this verse called on God’s people to put on strength. This passage in Isaiah talks about God restoring His people after they had been in captivity. My own heart had been held in captivity to impatience and restlessness a few years before, and I was still feeling the effects of its bondage even in my freedom.

Is your heart help captive by something? Or are you still feeling the effects of a struggle that exhausted your strength and determination to win? Even when we’re involved in ministry, our hearts can become captive to sorrow, fear, worry, anger, or sin. We can become lulled into despair or apathy. We may think, Things will always be this way, or I just don’t care anymore.

God calls us to “awake!” and depart from our captivity. To depart from the after effects of our struggles and heartaches. He wants us to leave behind the burdens of guilt and despair (Hebrews 10:22), and to embrace His ways instead, His ways that are good for us and build us up in godliness (Colossians 3:12-14, 3:8-10). He wants us to put on strength and to share life’s journey with Him in the fullness of His joy and power (Nehemiah 8:8-10, 1 John 1:7). When we draw close to God, remember who He is and all He has given us, and step forward into the light of His goodness, the darkness of weakness and helplessness shatters into a sunrise of strength.

After realizing that I had the choice of moving past sadness and adjusting my focus to be on God, my strength returned, and I was able to tackle the day. If a struggle has lulled you into a not-wanting-to-deal-with-it stupor, awake into God’s bright sunshine of joy and strength. He has not left you to handle life on your own. He is always with you. Find strength in His presence with you and in the hope and guidance that’s found in His Word. Put on your strength!

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

TWEETABLE
A sunrise of strength – thoughts on dealing with discouragement from @KatyKauffman28 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

headshot_katykauffmanAbout the author: Katy Kauffman is a Bible study author and teacher, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. Her writing tends to focus on winning life’s spiritual battles, and she loves connecting with writers and creating compilations such as Breaking the Chains: Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage, a 2018 Selah Awards finalist. Katy makes her home in a cozy suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Her latest book, Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, is a 2019 Selah finalist. How does God make our character more like Christ’s? What is His part, and what is ours? This Bible study compilation is a construction guide to building godly character and overcoming the hidden problems that sabotage it. It explores how God works in our lives and gives us wisdom to handle such real-life issues as unwanted change, grief, loneliness, financial debt, and difficult people.

Join the conversation: What still holds you captive, sapping your strength?