THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–After months of suffering from depression due to disappointments, financial woes and a nagging fear that God’s love seemed to encompass everyone but me, I awoke one recent Sunday fresh, guilt-free and at peace. That wonderful Sunday morning I switched on the TV in time to catch Charles Stanley addressing the subjects of perseverance and God’s infinite love. Later that morning, my own pastor spoke on the same topics. As wonderful (and coincidental?) as these exhortations had been, however, I understood that they were not the reason for my deliverance. Rather, God had used those teachings to confirm what He had already done. For I had been released from the suffering the moment I woke up.
Understand, I wasn’t relieved from depression because problems suddenly evaporated. But for some inexplicable reason, I was no longer demoralized or fearful or suspicious that I was merely getting into heaven on a pass.
For months, I had prayed. “God, I know many of your servants have gone through the valley of the shadow, but I feel somehow separated from you. I feel no joy. Is this what you want for me? Are you mad at me? Is this a curse?” (Sound familiar? My advice: Keep praying, keep trusting and keep reading biblical truths.)
Before the crucifixion, when Peter had denied he knew Christ, how do you think he felt? I expect he went into a deep despair. He must have wondered, “How could God forgive me?” Fortunately, angels appeared to the women after Jesus’ resurrection, instructing, “Go tell His disciples and Peter” (in Mark 16:7). The angels wanted Peter to know, “Everything’s cool, man.” So, okay, I’m paraphrasing a bit, but by singling him out, Peter was being told that he is part of God’s family and, like all His disciples, he is special to a loving and gracious God.
I have read that phrase “Go tell His disciples and Peter” many times over my life. Suddenly its meaning was clear. This is why I stress the need to spend time daily in God’s Word. The Holy Spirit reveals truths at different times in our lives.
God’s love for us is beyond our understanding, deeper than the sea and higher than the firmament. What’s more, God doesn’t just forgive, He forgets. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Is that love, or what!
There are many reasons for depression, some clinical, some spiritual, some simply due to the worries of modern-day life. If you are having difficulties with any form of melancholia, I would suggest you approach your pastor and your doctor.
I also recommend reading the stories of David, Job and Joseph. Most heroes of the faith have at some point questioned, “God, where are you?” During those periods of silence, God was working on their faith, building their spiritual character, showing others what these men stood for.
And if anyone questions the power of a curse over his or her life, consider this: We became children of God the day we said, “Yes, Jesus, you are the Messiah and I ask you to be my Lord.” Could any curse by man or demon then isolate us from God? “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
So, will that fear of God’s abandonment ever return? Will I again fear my financial condition? Will I once again tremble with a feeling of unworthiness? It would sound defeatist to admit yes. But knowing Satan’s determination to blind us from our divine assurance, it could happen. I was healed of depression, but I must be vigilant of the devil’s attacks so as to keep that affliction from returning.
I am convinced that if we are to fend off Satan’s emotional, physical and spiritual attacks, we must put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). We are saved once we ask Christ into our lives, but we grow closer to our Savior when we study His teachings. Read the Book!
If you are questioning God’s love, keep praying. I don’t know how long it will take before God responds, but He will respond. You’re His child. He loves you. And in His time, you will be convinced. You’ll find the proof of this in the Scriptures. But you’ll only find them if you look.
His love transcends our mortal weaknesses, our foolishness and our sins. I know this ’cause I keep reading the Book.
Phil Boatwright is the editor and film reviewer for The Movie Reporter, a monthly film guide from a Christian perspective. His website is www.moviereporter.com.