I have struggled with depression since the age of 16. Over the years, I have discovered and applied different strategies to cope. As I have grown older, and with experience, my list of coping techniques has gotten longer. I’ve found that exercise helps a lot, so now I spend several hours every week running, swimming or doing yoga. Sometimes when I find my perspective getting a little off, I talk on the phone with my mom, I laugh with my children, or I cuddle with my husband. Writing is also an outlet for me, as is listening to worship music. Sometimes, all I need to do to relax and to readjust my attitude is drink a glass of wine.
But here is what I’m learning. Running will sometimes make me feel better, but it sometimes will not. Talking with a good friend is sometimes helpful, and sometimes it is not. I might do everything I can think of during the day to correct my perspective, to drive away the feelings of loneliness or hopelessness, but sometimes none of it helps.
There is only one thing that I’ve found over these last almost twenty years that pierces through my thick skull, that penetrates my hardened heart, and that softens-up my stiff neck: God’s Holy Word.
God’s Word, the Bible, has NEVER disappointed me. It has not helped me only occasionally, but ALWAYS.
(Although I tell my students to avoid using such absolute terms like “always” and “never” in their writing, if there was ever a subject these absolutes could be applied correctly to, it’s the Bible.)
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11 ESV)
When Jesus faced his most difficult temptations in the desert, he didn’t say, “Now, hold on Satan, let me pour myself a glass of wine, so I can collect my thoughts about your proposal.”
Jesus didn’t fight Satan with yoga poses or Third Day songs. Of course not! He fought temptation through Scripture, and Scripture alone (Matthew 4: 1-11).
And, guess what? HE WON.
I believe the same is also true for us. We can, little-by-little, temptation-by-temptation, defeat our enemy, sin, and the only way to do so is through the reading, memorizing, listening, quoting, internalizing, and understanding of God’s Word. Without God’s Word, humanity would be completely lost. Other than salvation through his son Jesus, God has given us no greater gift than His Word.
Have I gone off the deep-end? Is my view too conservative, too old-fashioned, too simplistic? Do our modern-day, complicated problems require contemporary, complex solutions?
I am not against counseling or even medication when necessary to treat sin problems like anxiety or anger or addiction. My dad is a Christian psychologist. Counseling and medication can be good things. But they are not THE things. In fact, I would lump Prozac in the same category as Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. They can both be useful, but their value and benefits in comparison with the eternal Promises of Scripture are small and fleeting.
Knowing this–the power, effectiveness and faithfulness of God’s Word–then, I ought to be thinking about starting my day with Scripture rather than a swim. When I begin to feel tempted, weak, or overwhelmed, I ought to turn first to the Bible, not my blog.
These things aren’t necessarily bad, but they are certainly not God’s best.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:11-12. ESV. Empahsis added.)
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6: 16-18 ESV. Emphasis added.)