Randy Alcorn – Going Deep with God in Depression

Note: If you know someone going through a tough time, pass the video link to them and let them know they are not alone. Randy made two points that impressed upon me:

  1. Even great men of God go through periods of depression. It is not just a sign of being spiritually weak or far from God, it is something God allows sometimes.
  2. God is right there with you, even in the midst of depression. Don’t wait to come out of it and think that is where God will meet you. He is with you every step of the way, ready to comfort and to lift.

Randy Alcorn | Theology Refresh | Depression is often illusive. Some dark cloud gathers and hangs overhead. You feel constantly ill at ease. Whether triggered by negative events, or some undefined cause, you know despondency when you experience it, even if you find it hard to describe… Learn more athttp://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts… Photo credit blog.lifeway.com VIDEO by Desiring God


Randy Alcorn: I think depression is something that is elusive, but we sort of know what it is. It’s the state of having this cloud over you, this sense of being ill at ease, kind of a loss of happiness, a sense of „Where’s the joy in my life?” My own experience with depression has not been extensive, but I have had periods of time. One time, four months, where every day I would get up  and spend time with the Lord, but, I’d get up in the morning and I wasn’t just tired. I didn’t just need a cup of coffee. It’s just that there was this dark cloud. The embarrassing thing was, it was not at a time in my life where all kinds of things were going wrong. There had been many other times in my life where there’s been a lot of stress, a lot of  things going on, where I felt a great peace and contentment with the Lord. And then, this was in a period of time where not much was happening that was creating pressure. But, for undefinable reasons, I just didn’t know why; sometimes anxiety is like high stakes and low control. Depression is sometimes just the sense of ‘I don’t know  why’. I can’t just point my finger at the reason.

Causes- I think it’s very elusive and it’s different for different people. I think, sometimes when we talk about depression, anxiety, fear, whatever it might be, we kind of start saying: „Well, this is what it is.” But for some people it comes in a different shape and form. Certainly, depression can be triggered by very negative events happening in your life: Your child is dying, your spouse has  left you, you’ve lost your job- different circumstantial things in life. Other times, as I’ve said, in my case, you can’t point to a particular reason.  One of the things I’ve learned in my own depression, periodically when it comes upon me, is that God is there with me in the depression.

It used to be that I used to think, „Okay, this is wrong. I shouldn’t feel this way. I should have the joy of the Lord,” and indeed we should. But at the same time, what I do is try to get out of the depression. What can I do to get out of this? And I think, what’s been most helpful to me, and in that period of 4 month depression, I came to the point where no matter what I did, it wasn’t going away. So, then finally, I ended up saying, „Okay, Lord, walk with me in this. Help me to learn from this. So I looked at Romans 8 and you’ve got „If God be for us, who can be against us?” „Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. We’re more than conquerers through Him..” and certainly, „God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” So, in the middle of my depression, I’m meditating on those things and I’m sensing the presence of God, strangely sensing His presence in deeper ways then when everything was going just fine.

photo credit prayerineverycity.com

I think, certainly, going to God’s word, praying, getting support from other people, I was very honest with my wife, some of my friends. I blogged about it, I went to Charles Spurgeon, who experienced a lot of depression  throughout his life. He was plagued even many years later through that instance where 6 people who died in that crowd where somebody yelled „Fire” falsely. There wasn’t a fire, and that was when he was a very young pastor. But those memories would come back and haunt him at times. And it was actually very reassuring to me to see Charles Spurgeon, who I admire so much, and I don’t think anybody would say, „Well, the reason that Spurgeon experienced such depression is because He just wasn’t Christ centered and he didn’t know God’s word. No, no. The closeness to God that he experienced, the joy and the happiness that he repeatedly talks about , much of that comes out of his attempts to find that happiness and to find that joy in Christ, and successfully so. But, in a life that involved a great deal of physical pain and his wife being an invalid, and his own experience of depression.

I blogged about that and I got many people writing to me and saying, „This is so helpful that you’ve been honest enough to talk about this. So, there were a number of things that helped me through that time. But certainly, being honest, taking it to the Lord, saying, „God, I’m not living simply to have you cure/fix my problem any more than I would say, ‘Make no longer an insulin dependent diabetic’ which I am and have been.” If He wants me to heal me of that, heal me. But I’m not gonna wait until He does that. Don’t wait til you’re out of it to move on in life. Move on now, in the presence of God. There’s a real sweetness to that.

Counsel to pastors/leaders: One of the things I would say is, „Lord, help me to get through this day, with all the responsibilities that I have, with all the people I’m supposed to meet with, all the writing I’m supposed to do, meetings, whatever it is. But, help me to sense your presence  in the moment. Help me to not simply force myself to do this, putting one foot in front of the other on my own strength. But instead, to relax and say, „God, you help me. You lead me, you guide me. I need to lean on you to get through this day, so that at the end of the day I won’t say, „Okay, I did it again. I forced my way through the day, but know, „God you were with main this.”

Counsel to ministers and counselors who minister to depressed folks: I think, one thing is to not begin by thinking, „Okay, something is automatically terribly wrong here. Let people say what they’re feeling and express why they think they’re feeling it. Certainly, it’s always a good response to say, „Look to the Lord, depend on Him for strength.” But be careful not to lecture people who may already be going to the Lord and still experiencing depression. Again, think if you were meeting with Charles Spurgeon, would you be saying, „Now, Charles, if you would just spend time in the word, and if you would just depend on God, if you would just do that, then your depression would go away.” No. Understand that this person may be having time with God they may be pursuing all kinds of ways to get better. But so far, it hasn’t happened. And that’s why they have come to you for help. So, be sensitive to them. But, of course, don’t hesitate to bring to them the importance of focusing on the Lord. Set your mind on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3. Think from an eternal perspective.Look at Romans 8:28 in terms or retroactively as you will see it someday, retrospect, we’ll look back and we’ll say, „Now I see how God has caused all things to work for good. This is on of those things in your life, and God will use this depression you’ve experienced, for good. So, yes, I will try to help you out of that, but don’t think your life and your walk with God will not begin until you are out of it.

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