If you are, know that it happens to everyone from time to time or at some particular time, for some reason or other. So be relieved to know that you’re not alone! And that there is always someone around who understands and is there for you.

Sadly, feeling down can link in with depression, an often-misunderstood word that easily throws some people and has them wondering if they’re perhaps manic-depressive.

But this latter word refers to a mental disorder characterised by alternation between extreme confidence and deep depression. Whereas feeling down – that depressed feeling – simply means…’Low in spirits, vigour; weakness, dullness, despondency characterised by feelings of inadequacy, pessimism, sadness…’

Interestingly, a recent report mentioned that at some point in life, one out of every six men and one in every four women will suffer from depression. Mental problems or illness is becoming an openly recognised and talked about problem. The mind and body will be affected. Even one’s very spirit can be affected too. But there is help from someone who understands and cares.

The mind

Depression can lead to crying; wrong thinking about situations and people; mixed-up thinking and criticism about partners; grieving; picking on petty things and not seeing the bigger picture; bad conclusions and lousy decisions, especially about finance.

It includes claiming to be totally right and that everyone else is wrong; feeling indispensable; a tortured mind and deceived thinking; feeling persecuted and that no one understands; feeling overburdened, unimportant, unworthy and inadequate; displaying a spirit of independence; being judgmental; lacking motivation; and such. Worst of all… thoughts of suicide!

The body

Experiencing illness, tiredness, blood pressure; eating wrong food and drinking wrong beverages, depending on substitutes…drugs (even prescribed ones), alcohol, life-destroying smoking, chocolates, binges, sexual encounters, and such.

The spirit

Naturally one can feel down in spirits, but how can a Christian whose spirit is safe with God be affected? Simple! Tiredness, lack of motivation and illness can lead to being out of touch with God, not reading his word (the Bible), not talking to him and trusting him, travelling a wrong road in life, not joining the church family on Sundays or at encouraging midweek gatherings, and then – worst of all, missing out on God’s blessings.

Friendly encouragement

Actually, feeling depressed or down is a rotten thing! Makes one not only feel miserable but also act miserably toward others. This is particularly bad towards loved ones…partner, kids, friends. But there is hope…real hope.

First, find a true friend who will stick with you. The Bible speaks of meaningful friendships. I think particularly of David’s great friend, Jonathan. David had his dark moments (check out the psalms!) but Jonathan was a true friend, always there and deeply loyal. He’s the kind of friend that I want when I hit trouble!

But the reality of it is that your life partner is usually the best one to help bring you through. Husbands…listen to your wife! Wives…listen to your husband! Let that caring special person speak positive things, hope and encouragement into your thinking.

Also… remember that you have to play your part! Change unwholesome habits and your lifestyle of stress. You must make the effort, whatever the cost! If necessary, see a doctor and be open in describing your problem!

Godly encouragement

Most importantly, ask God to intervene and rejuvenate you. He understands…many of his heroes were hit with depression at times, not just David – Moses, Job, Jonah, Elijah… Jesus too went through his ‘dark night of the soul’ (Matthew 26:37-38 Amp). What a comfort! It’s always good to know that Jesus understands exactly from self-experience what we’re facing and can really sympathise and help.

Scripture encouragement

Is depression or feeling down or downcast bothering you? Read and hold on to Psalm 43:5: ‘Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’

That word ‘downcast’ is shachach, meaning depressed. ‘Disturbed’ is hamah, meaning agitated in great commotion or tumult. Sound familiar? And ‘hope’ is yachal, meaning to wait patiently (on God) in confident expectation.

No wonder the exciting, energetic Message Bible version puts it this way: ‘Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.’

That’s great news for anyone afflicted by depression or mental problems! Even if you don’t have a firm everyday relationship with God as yet, know that he understands and will help lift your spirit and put a smile back on your face.

Locusts and restoration

Joel 2:25 is another great encouragement from God. Here he promises to restore to us the years that have been stolen from us by devouring locusts. Think of locusts as problems not overcome yet, loss of peace and joy, time, wages, ministry, happiness, investments, contentment and such.

The word ‘restore’ is shalam, to make safe in mind, body or estate. It describes a comforting assurance of placing you into a covenant of peace set up by God.

You can do it!

Life is a gift from God to be lived to the full! With his help we can rise above every rotten, down in the dumps feeling. I’m not saying it’s always easy. There may be something deeper that needs a medical specialist’s checking. And you may have to determine to drop wrong eating habits or actions.

But I know that as we look to Jesus and depend on him we can get there! The old Beatles song stated, ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ but in Jesus Christ we have the supreme friend, the greatest friend of all! And he will always be on hand to help.

In Christ you are worthy and by counting on him, you can have confidence in yourself. This will help you discover that necessary balance needed to overcome the mood swings of extreme confidence and deep depression.

You’ll also overcome when you feel low in spirit, down in the dumps, downcast, depressed and wanting to sing the blues.

Hey…you can win through! Trust God…hold your face up high instead of being downcast at times. Hope in Jesus is greater and surer than any worldly ‘maybe kind of hope.’

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