If God is for us who can be against us?
By Rebecca Jungic
Depression can be a difficult beast to tame. Like many people I struggled with depression and anxiety for years. My journey with that unwelcome guest came following a diagnosis of endometriosis as well as the infertility that came a long for a very unwelcome ride.
For many years I struggled under its weight, often I believed there was no way out. I had prayed for healing and yet healing eluded me. I knew through it all though that God would not forsake me and yet I truly struggled. I felt that He was distant. You may feel that He isn’t concerned with your pain, or that in your heartache you are forgotten. I want to encourage you that even in your darkest days He cares for you.
I don’t claim to have all the answers and if you are finding each day difficult to get through I encourage you to seek professional counsel.
I would however like to give you some tips of what has helped me on my journey towards healing.
Study the Scriptures.
First of all I have to mention the hugely important role that regular Bible study has played in my life and my ability to overcome depression and anxiety. It cannot be over emphasized. Whether through reading short passages or delving into deep study, the Word has spoken to my heart in ways that I never imagined. The more I read Scripture the more God’s promises echoed truth into my soul. The more time I spent in the well spring of life the less alone I felt.
I absolutely believe in reading verses in the correct context to gain a deeper understanding of what has been written. In saying this I also believe that each verse of God’s Word serves to bring joy to our souls and light in the darkness. Below I have included some beautiful verses to uplift the spirit and bring a sense of calm in the storm.
‘The righteous cry, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles’ Psalm 34:17
‘The LORD, it is He who does go before you, He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not be in awe! Do not be dismayed!’ Deuteronomy 31:8
‘For I have been persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor rulers nor present circumstances nor things coming nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Y’shua our Lord.’ Romans 8:38-39.
There are simply hundreds of verses to meditate on and find comfort in.
Regular Bible reading didn’t come naturally for me. I knew that we are instructed to read God’s Word and that within it we find peace and hope for the future and for eternity yet I simply didn’t have the passionate desire within me to read the Scriptures. I decided to pray about it. I sought God and He blessed me with the hunger and thirst for His incredible Word. I encourage you to pray for this desire too.
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25
Now this is the confidence we have before Him—that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have the requests we have asked from Him. 1 John 5:14-15
During the years that I struggled with depression I noticed that a number of things made me feel a lot worse or caused terrible anxiety. One was spending a lot of time with other people suffering with depression. After one particularly difficult get together with a friend who was terribly miserable, I made the conscious decision to focus on building strong close friendships with a small select group of positive, life affirming women.
I used to believe I had to be friends with everyone. I still endeavour to be kind and loving towards all I meet but I no longer feel obligated to be everyone’s friend. Friendship takes effort, close sisterly bonds take trust, patience, love and understanding.
The close friendships I developed during those years of heartache and despair are strong and beautiful yet few. I didn’t have the energy to leave the house some days, it was on those days that the few women I was truly close with would come over or call me and we would gently chat over a cup of tea. I’m thankful to those women who walked with me and gave me strength. Who understood that I was having a difficult day but would try to uplift me, encourage me with heartfelt words and tell me that God had not forsaken me. The friendships are certainly mutual and in time I have given wholeheartedly to these select friends and we have built beautiful bonds together. We mustn’t forget to also give freely.
Along the way I had to walk away from some friendships. There were a few women who simply weren’t willing to begin the journey towards healing. It may sound terrible but I know that there are willing and able professionals out there for people who aren’t ready to start helping themselves. I simply couldn’t carry my own burden as well as theirs.
Things are different now. With my mind and spirit strong I can listen to others and I am often now the one who uplifts. If you have the energy and a joyful spirit by all means be a light to those sitting in darkness, if I didn’t have positive, beautiful women in my life I would have missed out on so much. I absolutely encourage you to bless others who are struggling daily, however do so when you have adequate love and joy to give.
Family, my husband and close friends shone the light in those places where darkness had overtaken. They encouraged me to look outward, to be thankful for God’s mercies, to enjoy even the most simple of the days blessings and to sit in the sunshine and let its warmth calm me.
If I had retained those friendships that focused on the negative side of life, that cried that life had given them a bad deal, that couldn’t for a moment see that the future could be bright I believe I may have delved deeper into despair. Being selective of the friendships I chose to nurture was one of the best decisions I ever made. There are people out there that despite life not being perfect and hardships coming their way still choose to be thankful. I am thankful for those people.
As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
He who walks with wise men is wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
Find beauty in God’s creation.
Too often we don’t stop to enjoy the beauty of God’s majestic creation. It was given for us to dwell in but there is so much beauty bestowed upon it we would be wise to slow down and appreciate how intricate and breathtaking it truly is. In moments of despair a gentle walk or even finding a place to sit on the grass gives us an opportunity not only to observe creation but also to reflect. Too often our busy lives mean that we’re preoccupied with seemingly more important tasks. Of course meals need to be cooked, we need to go to work or care for children. However making rest in God’s beautiful creation a priority (just as food and water is imperative) is also vital for surviving and thriving.
That is one of the many blessings of God’s Sabbath. Not only has He given us a day set apart to honor Him and rest with our families, He has also given us a wonderful opportunity to enjoy His magnificent creation. Find even half an hour to go for a gentle stroll in the park, walk along the river or lie on the grass looking up at the blue expanse. Take your Bible study outdoors, have a picnic by a lake or have a cup of tea on your balcony, in your courtyard or on your patio. Take time to watch as butterflies flutter past, listen to birds sing and bathe in the sunshine. If you can, do this each day. When your mind is stuck dwelling on negative thoughts remember that there is still beauty around you.
Adonai, how countless are Your works! In wisdom You made them all- the earth is full of Your creatures. Psalm 104:24-25
Observing God’s creation also reminds us of how much He loves us. Y’shua tells us that the care and love God shows the flowers of the field is incomparable to the way in which He loves and cares for us, His greatest creation. Look around, see the elegance of nature, the towering trees and tiny ant, the jewel like snowflakes and sweet song birds testify that our Great God is mighty in works.
And which of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about your clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. Now if in this way God clothes the grass which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow- will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith. Matthew 6:27-30
When I struggled with racing thoughts or feelings of envy, hurt and doubt I would take myself outside and sit in our garden. With the warm sun bathing my skin I looked out at our property and enjoyed the little things. On many a day I would sit and watch our chickens, listen to wild birds sing and observe bees buzzing around flowers. Dealing with chronic pain meant that I had more days at home in which to do this than most, but regardless of how much time you have, quietly observing nature is medicine for the soul.
Change what you can.
There are some things in life we cannot change. We are given many challenges during our lives and often we have to deal with incredibly difficult situations which are out of our control. We were however given free will and an opportunity to choose how we react in every situation. There are also some situations we can view from a different perspective.
Some events in life we have no control over; losing a loved one, accidents or injury, being laid off, struggling with infertility, being born with health problems etc. These or other events and circumstances happen to each individual. They are the reality of our human existence. For those events we cannot change, we can choose our reaction to them.
I am not a psychologist and if you are desperate for help I urge you to seek the professional guidance of one or a trusted counsellor or pastor.
There are however some things I have learned that have helped me change my response to my circumstances. For now I will leave you with one aspect of your life you can slowly work at changing; recognizing your strengths and appreciating your weaknesses.
When I was younger I used to believe I had to be good at everything. This belief caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and worry. I used to believe I should be good at singing (because my brother is), great at sport (because my friends were), pretty like a model (because I knew some people like that) or incredibly smart (because my uncle was). These and other beliefs led to a lot of disappointment. However in time I learned that I’m not like everyone else, no one is like everyone else. We are all unique, with unique talents, personalities and abilities.
I am clumsy, I forget easily and I am not the smartest girl around. However…I can choose to laugh at myself, be gentle on myself and be kind to others regardless of how I see myself or how others see me. I also have the choice to improve in some areas. While I may always be clumsy I can choose to not be fearful of escalators. While I do forget easily I can choose to make an effort to be more organized by carrying a diary with me and using it and jotting down notes and paying more attention to important information. I’m not an amazing athlete but I can truly enjoy walking through the city or going for a hike or cycle at the gym. While I’m not the smartest girl around I can read, I can listen to audio books, I can write and I can turn off the television and choose ways to improve my mental ability.
You too can choose how you see yourself. Regardless of the how you believe others see you, you can choose to love yourself. Not because you lack humility but because you want to nurture the beautiful individual that God created in you.
I give thanks to You, For I am awesomely and wondrously made! Wondrous are Your works, And my being knows it well. Psalm 139:14
There are however some things which I am good at. There are absolutely unique talents that you also have. Nurture them. Recognize what you are good at and spend time watering your garden of talents. God created each of us with gifts to use for His glory and to bless others. If you paint, embrace it and practice, if you are great at public speaking, invest some time in pursuing more opportunities to encourage and inspire. If you find cooking fills you with fond memories and you have a skill for creating new flavors, cook for family and friends. If you have a listening ear and kind heart be a good friend. We each have beautiful talents and gifts that our Great God has blessed us with. When you realize that you are no longer competing with others but are a fellow traveller with those around you, you will let go of worrying about what others think about you and embrace giving of your time, energy and passion to your brothers and sisters walking in your midst.
I don’t have all the answers, I could never claim to. I can attest though, to the incredible power of God’s ability to change us. Our Heavenly Father has changed me in ways I never knew were possible. There are many other tips I could give to encourage you to have hope for a tomorrow without anxiety and depression. These include turning off the television and developing your passions, serving others, eating healthy and nourishing food, growing your own fruit and vegetables, avoiding negative music/television/books and movies, and most importantly prayer. Overcoming anxiety and depression was not an overnight occurrence for me. It took countless tearful prayers, hours absorbed in the Word and completely changing my life and outlook on it. It is not too difficult to attain, it is not only for a select few. There are many individuals who don’t ever feel completely hopeless and helpless, for those of us that have however I encourage you to seek God, change what you can and stay hopeful.
It is my prayer that this short piece has blessed you and encouraged you.
With all my love to you,
Rebecca Jungic is a married follower of Y’shua from Queensland, Australia. She has a deep desire to share the joy that she finds in God and to inspire women to hope for a kinder tomorrow. She blogs at https://medium.com/@becjungic. You can also find encouragement and hope at http://becjungic.wix.com/underhiswings.