(June 11, 2022) Maureen McQuillan shares some wintery thoughts…
Recently we were warned by various weather newscasters that summer was over and the days ahead would be colder. They certainly are! Brrrr!
Robert keeps asking me each new morning, ‘Where would you like to go today, Darling? Short drive around the countryside, have a meal or even a cuppa somewhere?’
I normally reply, ‘But the sun’s not shining, it’s cloudy and dull.’ To which Robert says, ‘We’ll be in the car, nice and warm’ and I – not depressed, mind you – respond, ‘It may look okay outside but it’s overcast. It may not be snowing but just open the front door and you’ll feel the cold. Let’s wait until a better day, we’ll enjoy it more. Here at home we can enjoy a nice meal or coffee… by the fire.’
Now I deliberately mentioned above that I’m not depressed by cold weather, nor any dark thoughts about winter time. But cold days could have some people longing for springtime, dreaming of warmer locations… and depressed.
One time, when ministering overseas we visited some churches in Germany, staying with a local family. It was wintery, dark and cold outside and we noticed several holiday brochures around the family room, all with encouragements to ‘Come enjoy the bright warm weather and sunny places.’
We were to learn that many Europeans in the winter months can long for such a holiday break to escape from winter coldness and a sense of loneliness, that sadly many have committed suicide through depression caused by the dark, overcast days.
Now there’s a dark, frightening word in itself! Dictionaries tell that depression means to be lowered in spirit and despondent, having feelings of low value, carrying delusions of inadequacy and hopelessness. That this sad word comes from Latin words meaning ‘pressed down.’
I think ‘pressed down’ covers it all. And it’s verysad to come across Christians who open up and admit that’s how they feel, that they are suffering from depression… despite the strengths and victories Christians have in Jesus.
The reality is that anyone could be so afflicted! Yes, even a Christian; we have great strength and assurances in God, but we must be aware that we too might get hit by depression – especially if overworked, tired, going through difficulty, disappointment, or illness. And it’s easy to feel ashamed and not want anyone to know, not even a close friend or minister.
Troubled heart’s answer…
Firstly we must recognise that depression is not something to be so ashamed of, or feel we must be quiet about ere someone accuse us of having lost our faith!
Secondly (If it were to hit us), we must…
- Recognise symptoms and deal with this problem.
- Understand that this ‘pressing down’ is a ‘following on from’ word ie depression might follow on from some upset or stress that’s happened.
- Know and take heart that our good God can and will help us. That His word has much encouragement for troubled hearts!
Read Proverbs 12:25 for example: ‘Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.’ Anxiety – anything that causes heaviness of heart. We often use another word – ‘worry.’
Whatever our heaviness of heart may be, the good news is that God had answers before prescription tablets! Here’s a few Bible examples that indicate some of God’s people were hit with depression…
That mighty man of God was exhausted after killing 1000 of Israel’s enemies single-handedly in the amazing power of God’s Spirit. He cried out to the Lord: ‘Must I now die of thirst…?’ (Judges 15:14-19).
Although the strongest of men, he was obviously depressed but God had an answer… He ‘caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground … and Samson drank and was revived…’ Revived indicates that he was refreshed anew… ‘came alive.’ Good News Bible puts it this way: ‘… began to feel much better.’
Praise God that He always has an answer to every problem, including sickness, weariness and heaviness of heart (depression).
An amazing prophet, he had held back rain for almost four years and called fire down from heaven destroying the power of false prophets! But then we read that he became crushed in spirit – depressed – after incredible victory over satanic forces.
In 1 Kings 19:3-4 (Mge) we read that the evil Queen Jezebel threatened him for having caused this victory over her irreligious rule and that ‘When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life.’
But God had an answer! A gentle whisper of His comforting voice and a good heaven-supplied meal fixed Elijah up (1 Kings 19:12ff)! He found himself strengthened, recommissioned by God and sent out immediately on a new assignment.
If (and I say ‘If’) depression hits us, even a little R&R in God’s presence is enough to refresh and get us going again! Spending time with the Lord, reading our Bible (our heavenly food!), and talking to Him will help refresh us and we’ll be able to move ahead into whatever the Holy Spirit has for us next.
Dark times fall on all of us every now and then, no matter who we are, how ‘close to God’ we may be, or how involved in ministry we are! Even David who was a ‘man after God’s own heart’ was no exception.
Many of his psalms give the impression that he suffered quite a bit from depression. But David always ‘picked himself up, shook himself down and started all over again’ as he turned to God and drew strength and refreshing from Him. For example, 2 Samuel 22: 29-30: ‘O Lord, you are my light: yes, Lord, you light up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army.’
Admit it… nobody likes responses that begin with ‘But…’, do we? David had many good ‘Buts’!
If times of depression come, we can echo David’s strategy by truthfully admitting it and then exclaiming, ‘But ah God.’ See Psalm 10:14 for example; ‘But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.’
Get the picture? No matter how dark the hour, our God will never let us down.
He too had His moments!
Think about the agony He went through in the garden struggling with the knowledge of the torture He would soon be suffering. (Mark 14:33-34NLT1996): ‘He began to be filled with horror and deep distress. He told (His disciples), “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”’
Message Bible reads: ‘He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony’ meaning deep distress of mind. But Jesus knew how to get answers and supernatural overcoming strength from His God! ‘Abba, Father, everything is possible for you… I want your will, not mine’ (v36).
And, strengthened within, Jesus now refreshed in heart and mind moved on to become our Saviour (John 3:16).
The good news
Being disappointed, heartbroken, especially over what someone did or said can hurt big time! But, again, God has an answer: ‘The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalms 34: 17-18).
Depression could catch us unawares and rob us of joy. If we hang on to depressive feelings, they’ll flatten us leading to emotional and mental troubles, clouding our thinking for a long time! We’ll go round the clock dwelling on even trivial matters. It’s really a rotten thing.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (my favourite scripture) encourages us to trust in the Lord with all our heart for everything. Verse 8 promises renewed health, nourishment and vitality. Good News Bible says: ‘If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.’ Yes, God always has answers… we should turn to Him immediately and get His help.
Revelation 21: 4 is also comforting! ‘God will remove all your sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.’ Now that’s not just a promise to be outworked in eternity… it can be ours here and now! It all depends on us calling out to God, just like Jesus and other biblical heroes of faith did!
Final thoughts today
- If we need some professional medical care, there’s nothing wrong with that… providing we look to the Lord first and trust Him fully!
- Oh… Robert has just again thoughtfully asked if I’d like to go somewhere today. I looked at our warm fire and said, ‘I have a beautiful lunch prepared – amagnifique repas – at “Maureena’s Magnifico Muncheonette.”’
Guess what? We’re staying in!