Tag Archives: self-help

I Samuel 24-27; The Answer

I’ve been dealing with (or maybe ignoring would be a better word for it) a bit of depression lately. There are several things going on at the moment, but one is the fact that I’ve gained some weight the past couple of years. I hate the way I feel, and how my clothes fit. I hate it when people take pictures of me because I’m sure the camera adds ten pounds.

And to make matters worse, I’m an emotional eater. Feeling good? Have a pizza. Angry? There’s that bag of chips. Sad? Get out the ice cream.

So the more depressed I get, the more I eat, the more weight I gain, and the more depressed I get. It’s discouraging.

Reading these chapters today makes me wonder if David wasn’t a bit discouraged, too. He’d done nothing to deserve Saul’s unfair treatment. David was forced to leave his home and live in caves so Saul wouldn’t find him. More than once, David proved his faithfulness to Saul, and each time David heard Saul promise, “I’ll never hunt you down to kill you ever again.” But Saul never keep his word, and David kept running.

If you read the psalms David wrote during this time I think you’ll agree the man was dealing with a bit of depression.  At least he was discouraged and frustrated.

Here’s what spoke to me today: We don’t always make the best decisions when we are living in that state of mind.

In chapter 27 we find that David, still on the run from Saul, finds shelter in the middle of enemy territory. He went to hide out with the Philistines (yes, Goliath’s gang). What follows is a series of really bad choices made by the future king of Israel.

I wish David would have remembered what he’d said in 26:24:

…may the Lord value my life, and deliver me from all trouble.

Here’s the thing. Depression is a result of “I”. For instance, look at the sentence I wrote earlier:

So the more depressed I get, the more I eat, the more weight I gain, and the more depressed I get.

Mine is not a chemical imbalance. It’s an I imbalance.

I read some of the psalms David may have written during this time in his life. I noticed they all had something in common. Along with heart-felt expressions of sadness, frustration, discouragement, they also included verses like these:

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17)

The Lord is my light and my salvation… (Psalm 27:1)

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)

I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8b)

I’m tired of all the well-meaning self-help books and advice, people who tell me I should “take care” of my self, or look within my self for answers. I’m the one who is hurting. Obviously what I’m doing isn’t working. When I feel like this, I should be the last person I go to for answers.

The answer to my depression is not a look within myself, but a dying to self. It’s not about focusing on me, but on focusing on my Lord. It’s not about doing what I think is best for me, but doing what God is asking me to do. It’s not about getting in touch with my feelings, but getting in touch with my Savior, not about spending time with “me,” but spending time with my Lord.

So, paraphrasing David’s words in I Samuel 26:24, let me say I know God values my life. He died to give that life to me. I am the apple of His eye, His precious lamb. And I am confident He will deliver me from all my troubles, even those I bring on my self by focusing on my self.

I have every reason to rejoice today when I look at Jesus. Everything else seems to dim in comparison.

Loving Father, thank you for Your Word to me today. Forgive me when I take my focus off of You, and place it on myself. Help me to bring it all to You and leave it at Your feet. Help me to trust You, to serve You, to love You, to praise You today. My life is Yours. If I have joy today, may it be Your joy. If I have worth today, may it be because I am clothed in Your righteousness, loved by You, and trusting in You alone.

August 17 – Don’t “Should”

Jeremiah 30-31

There is a former student of mine, the mother of four, a young woman who loves her husband and who is loved by him, yet who battles depression and the all-too-often desire to stop living. She’s not a Christian. She reads self-help books, listens to Oprah, and tries to follow the advice of friends who tell her she shouldn’t feel that way, that she should be thankful, that she should tap into her own strength and pull herself up.

But I think all those “should’s” just make it worse.

I thought about her today as I read these chapters. God is telling the Jews that they have a serious injury, an incurable wound.

There is no one to plead your cause; no healing for your sore, no recovery for you. (30:13)

God even goes a step further and tells them to  quit crying about it. Felling sorry for yourself doesn’t change a thing.

Wow, God. Thanks for the encouragement. I feel so much better now.

Read on. God gives more than just a sympathetic pat on the back.

For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares the Lord. (vs 17)

The truth is we all have reason to loathe ourselves. We’ve all done things to be ashamed of, to be sorry for. But trying to fix things by our own efforts is a bit like putting a bandaid on that incurable wound. We may feel better for a time. But when we fall (and we always fall) that wound bleeds a bit more. We feel worse than before, more useless, more of a failure than before.

God wants us to know that we don’t have to manufacture a feeling of healing. HE IS THE HEALER. We don’t have to pull ourselves out of the pit. He died, went into that pit Himself, so we wouldn’t have to live there. He rose again so that we could be born again ourselves, be free from the power of sin, and know the joy that comes from having our sins forgiven.

I think the only “should” we should listen to is the one that tells us we should go to the Father, repent of our sins, and let Him heal us. There is a sense of relief in that “should.”