A Spiritual Cure for Depression

Sometimes life can get overwhelming. Even the apostle Paul could feel that way. He testified that in the province of Asia “we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and [d]does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:8-10). Sadness about life’s disappointments can eventually sink us into depression.

An estimated 19 million American adults are living with major depression. [1]

The Mayo clinic defines clinical depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living. More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply “snap out” of it…” [2]

Biblical counselor, Dr. Tim Allchin notes that depression is often linked to other emotional struggles such as

•  Anger
•  Fear/Anxiety
•  Stress
•  Guilt and Shame (Real or False)
•  Broken Relationships (Death, Divorce, Dysfunction, Distance, or Damage)

“…We cannot effectively deal with depression without evaluating our responses to the difficult circumstances and emotional stressors of our life.”[3]

In his book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed,

“Spiritual depression or unhappiness in the Christian life is very often due to our failure to realize the greatness of the gospel… Where believers go astray is that they tend to focus on their performance (they are preoccupied with themselves), rather than on their relationship to God (justification). When we come back to the gospel of grace, it is all a matter of belief or unbelief – faith or feeling … Ultimately it all comes down to this – the real cause of “troubled souls” is the failure to realize that we are “one with Christ” – “united with Christ.” We died with Christ . . . we have been buried with Christ . . . we have been raised with Chris t. . . and we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ! (Rom 6:3-11; Eph 2:6). Paul says we are to “reckon these things as being so” (Rom 6:11). If you are looking at your past and your sins and you are depressed, it means that you are listening to the devil. Rejoice in the grace and mercy of God that has blotted out your sins and made you His child. Stop looking at yourself and begin to enjoy Him! By God’s grace you are what you are – it is all “grace!” Become absorbed in the “grace and love of God” and you will forget all about yourself – it will deliver you from self-interest, self-concern, and from depression (which is the result of focusing on self).”[4]

For example, the psalmist declared,
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God” (Psalm 42:11).

Dr Bill Gillham discerned the root cause and ultimate cure for depression:
“Christ alone must be your primary Source if you are to be liberated from the chains of depression. A practitioner who always treats depression as the problem is missing the mark. Just as fever is but a symptom of the cause, so it is with depression. Depression is a symptom of a deeper cause. Most counselors would agree that less than 5% of depression cases have physically induced depression which does not respond to counseling. PMS, hypoglycemia, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, thyroid or blood sugar problems, etc. are physical factors which can cause depression. Counseling such a Christian with spiritual truth can subject him to even greater despair because although he may see the truth which sets a man free, he can’t appropriate it. However, the remaining 95% of the depressed Christians can experience victory solely through spiritual counsel.”[5]

Cathy Solomon just published a flip booklet about Christ-centered solutions to help the depressed person. It’s online here: https://cld.bz/ShSgcTo

May we move beyond life’s disappointments to confident hope in God’s encouraging and sustaining grace.


John Woodward, Jan. 4, 2020 Grace Fellowship International

[1] https://www.webmd.com/depression/default.htm

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/

[3] https://biblicalcounselingcenter.org/what-the-bible-says-about-depression/

[4] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. Eerdmans Publishing, 1965.

[5] https://www.lifetime.org/articles/depression-2

Flip book: https://cld.bz/ShSgcTo

Craig Hill

Craig Hill, founder of Family Foundations International, presents a video blog “Daily Spirit & Truth.” Recently he gave a teaching on Romans 5:10-11: “for if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life and not only this but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” He says, “What did Messiah do when He died shed His blood rose from the dead?…The blood of Yeshua actually exchanged and He took 100% of the sin out of your spirit and replaced it with 100% of His righteousness…” View this six minute teaching here:
https://craighill.org/dst-289/
Another video blog is on man as spirit, soul and body.
https://craighill.org/dst-287/
These themes are part of the Message of Exchanged Life Counseling.

Testimonies of Transformational Change

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalm 107:2).

One of the appealing traits of Exchanged Life Counseling is the fruit that the Holy Spirit so often produces. Testimonies of grace-oriented life change validate the truth and glorify the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

The discipler/counselor does well to have many examples of testimonies that he/she can learn from and refer to, such as They Found the Secret (V .R. Edman) and Exchanged Lives! (John Best). Books of testimonies by Charles Solomon include From Pastors to Pastors: Testimonies of Revitalized Ministries, Handbook to Happiness (chapter 8), and Discipling the Desperate.

Video testimonies are also making an impact. Here is one by my friend, Aaron Kim, that is reaching many on Youtube. May God use such testimonies to encouraged those in need of hope, and direct them to Christ-centered solutions.

Guaranteed Ability to Cope – His Sufficient Grace

by Joe Fornear

Life can be overwhelmingly hard and the temptation to despair can be great. Happened to me when I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic melanoma in 2003. I was soon after given the prognosis of “days to live.” The cancer and it’s cures were far more than I could personally handle emotionally, physically or spiritually.

I’m so glad, however, that the Lord displayed His amazing grace and powers through human followers, like Job and Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-25, Paul lists among some of his hardships the following experiences, any of which would devastate most of us!

  • Many imprisonments
  • Beaten times without number
  • Five times he received thirty-nine lashes from the Jews.
  • Three times he was beaten with rods
  • Once he was stoned
  • Three times he was shipwrecked, once floating in the ocean for 24 hours

“The 6 rounds of chemo whipped me” doesn’t quite rise to the level of “I was whipped by a leather whip with metal shards in it 195 times” (five times thirty-nine)! Paul desperately sought God to remove these trials, eventually God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What does “sufficient grace” mean? Here are five elements to the grace He supplies:

1) He gives HIS peace – In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

2) He gives peace that surpasses understanding – Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

3) The love of God is poured out within our hearts – Romans 5:3-5 – “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

4) Inexpressible Joy – 1 Peter 1:8 – “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”

5) Joy that’s better than the world’s joy – Psalm 4:7 – “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

Don’t ever fall into the trap of despair, God can handle your battle through you!

In His Grip,
Joe and Terri Fornear

(used with permission)

Stronghold Ministry

About Stronghold Ministry

 

Spirit, Soul and Body

Pastor and international evangelist, Lester Sumrall, originally published this volume in 1984 as The Total Man. He has strong convictions about the importance of the spirit/soul distinction in man:

“In this study, I am going to help you understand yourself and therefore know  how to live. I want to make you aware of the three dimensional nature of the human personality. As long as you treat the human personality as a dualism [body and soul], you will never discover it. A psychologist or psychiatrist might be able to pick you to pieces, but he will not be able to put you back together again… He does not even know that man has a spirit. This is a very sad situation because man’s biggest problems are spiritual” (pp. 15,16).

The author’s pastoral concern is evident in the many practical points he makes about avoiding defeat and living a Spirit-filled, God-designed life. Discipleship Counselors appreciate the relevance of an accurate, biblical model of man since it relates to personal ministry.

As a leader who ministered in over one hundred countries, Sumrall’s diagnosis is worth noting: “In many churches as much as a third of the whole congregation is depressed and sad. They are not living in their spirit; they are [primarily] living in the soulical realm…God’s kingdom, which is in you, is God’s righteousness, peace and joy” (p. 78; see Rom. 14:17).

See John’s full book review: http://biblicalpsychology.net/

The book is available from the publisher here:  https://www.whitakerhouse.com/product/spirit-soul-body/

Discovering Rest

A common trait in the four new counselees that came in for appointments last week was the fatigue factor. Whereas conventional counseling would probably try to alleviate weariness through strengthening the clients’s coping strategies, Discipleship Counselors can reframe this need as an opportunity to discover “the rest of the Gospel” (see the book by Dan Stone). God’s provision is concisely summarized in this devotional article. – JBW

“COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (MATT. 11:28).

“Hard as it is for the believer to finally come to rest concerning his spiritual birth, it seems to be even more difficult for him to simply rest in the Lord Jesus for his life and service” (Miles Stanford).

“There are two stages in the Christian life. The one in which, after conversion, a believer seeks to work what God would have him do. The second, in which, after many a painful failure, he ceases from his works, and enters the rest of God, there to find the power for work in allowing the Father to work in him.

“It is this rest from their own work which many Christians cannot understand. They think of it as a state of passive and selfish enjoyment, of still contemplation which leads to the neglect of the duties of life, and unfits for that watchfulness and warfare to which Scripture calls. What an entire misunderstanding of God’s call to rest! Truly to rest in God is to yield oneself up to the highest activity. We work, because He worketh in us both to will and to do (Phil. 2:13). As Paul says of himself, ‘I labor, striving according to his working who worketh in me with might’ (Col. 1:29). Entering the rest of God is the ceasing from self-effort, and the yielding of oneself in the full surrender of faith to God’s working” (Andrew Murray)…

“TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU, AND LEARN OF ME; FOR I AM MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART, AND YE SHALL FIND REST UNTO YOUR SOULS” (MATT. 11:29).
www.AbideAbove.com

Addressing Risk Factors

One of the “wet blankets” that may hinder Discipleship Counselors is the fear of a lawsuit. Although informal peer-to-peer ministry seems to avoid this stigma, when churches and parachurch helpers move into a more formal pastoral counseling role, the risk factor may come up. How can these fears be addressed? How can the counselor take wise precautions?

Adopt and ethics statement

Although professional code of ethics documents are more detailed than needed and are biased with secular values and professional policies, the Discipleship Counselor can adapt and use a policy document. Here is an audio lecture on ethics by Dr. Cry Lantz:

http://gfirecovery.com/MP3/Cary_Lantz_ETHICS.mp3

and a sample document: Ethics Policy

In formal personal ministry, have a second person present or nearby for accountability (for the benefit of the counselee and the counselor).

Use relevant forms

When forms such as Informed Consent and Waiver of Liability are used, this documents that the counselee agrees to non-professional, non-secular, Christian personal ministry sessions. These forms should be signed and kept with the client’s case notes. Here are sample documents that can be edited:
Informed Consent Form sample
Waiver of Liability sample

Get insurance coverage

If you’re doing formal ministry (appointments, goals, secure notes, donations received, etc.), a liability policy is reassuring and also affordable (relatively speaking). Consider this agency that covers pastoral counselors for about $100 or so per year. (800) 421-6694
https://www.americanprofessional.com/covered-professions/clergy-pastoral-counselors/

As the apostle Paul admonished Timothy, let’s minister with integrity and confidence:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6,7).

JBW