Christmas, the most depressing time of the year?

My little girl 3-year-old Ellie has a stuffed Eeyore. The other night I was putting her to sleep and had her stuffed Eeyore sing a depressing Christmas song, “I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you…”

“No Papa, have him sing a happy song”. At which point I think I had him sing Jingle Bells and do a little dance.

I know Christmas can be a depressing time for some, and for others, you may be depressed but it has nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever.

If there is anything I am an expert on, depression is one of them. I was depressed for most of my life. I remember always being melancholy as a kid and always looked on the gloomy side of life. My depression took a turn for the worse when I believed God turned his back on me and I slipped into a terrifying despair that lasted seven years.

I was looking back over what I just wrote and how refreshing it is to say “was” depressed. I have been free from depression (at least the worst of it) for seven years now. The last seven years has had many stepping-stones and breakthrough moments all along the way. I want to share these highlights of my journey out of depression with you because some of the things I learned along the way WILL BE game changers for you if you are depressed.

I remember watching this youtube video of this guy who seemed to have a big audience on youtube. He was speaking about depression encouraging kids with advice along the lines of find a purpose, some hobby or activity you can throw yourself into and just get lost in.

My advice is something similar, part of your cure is finding your purpose, but instead of just telling you to get a hobby I must tell you something that I expect some people may find hard to swallow but is the absolute truth.

Ready for it?

Jesus is the answer.

I know there are many people suffering depression right now. There are as many reasons for this as there are people. Some are brought on by life circumstances, some depression is brought on by foolish choices. In fact, at the root of all depression something called “sin” is the culprit. That’s a pretty broad statement and some may choose to take offense that I would accuse people to say that their depression is because they sinned. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if sin had not entered the world there would be no such thing as depression. However it must be said that it is often our sinful choices in life that has led to a depressing end. That’s just what sin does.

Jesus was once asked by his disciples whether a blind man was born blind because of his own sins or his parents. Jesus said neither but that the glory of God may be displayed in his life. Elsewhere God takes credit for making some men blind. God is Sovereign after all, is he not?

Perhaps our Sovereign and good God is using your depression to transform your life and make you a useful and beautiful masterpiece. That’s what he has done for me. In retrospect, I have learned so much that I have shared with so many on a day-to-day basis, that I have actually become grateful for my suffering. Yes, grateful for my depression.

The shining breakthrough moments I’ve been able to share have touched and encouraged thousands of people. I’ve been able to bring the liberating truth of the real Gospel message to many because of my suffering. My suffering broke my pride. It humbled me and rendered me useful for God’s good purposes.

Finding Your Purpose

Earlier I mentioned that finding your purpose will be part of your cure from depression. We all have one similar purpose. To belong to someone.

One of the transforming breakthrough moments for me happened when I read Colossians 1. This is what I read:

“…all things have been created through him and for him.”

It struck me. I was created by Jesus for Jesus. I found my purpose! How did I ever think my life was my own? My purpose and meaning in life is only found in connecting to and in relationship with the one who made me for himself! Wow! Game changer! This is your purpose too.

Joni Eareckson Tada suffered from “a diving accident in 1967  that left her, then 17, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of her hands” (from her bio at her website). She was mentioned by Francis Chan in one of his talks as someone who inspires him because as she was recently suffering from cancer and a cold she took the time to call to encourage Francis and tell him she is praying for him.

What makes a person shine in the midst of suffering? I believe suffering to be a crucible. It melts us down. It refines us. It reveals us. Much of what is revealed is ugly. Sin is revealed. It is revealed in order to be removed. Fortunately we can take those painfully revealing moments to bring the sin in our lives to God to be dealt with. We get to repent!

Why do I frame it this way? That you “get to” repent? Because in my my own experience with seven years of terror and the horrors of depression I couldn’t seem to repent. I tried, but repentance (having a change of mind) eluded me. This inability to repent seemed to me to be a form of stern discipline from the Lord. I imagined He wept at my having to experience it. It doesn’t please him that any of us suffer. But my pride was dragging me to hell and this was the only thing that would turn me around, a seven year sentence in a dark dungeon of despair.

So you see, repentance (literally “having a change of mind” or “mind-set shift”) is a gift from God. He granted me this gift of repentance about this time seven years ago. The bible even says, ‘God grants us the privilege of repentance’. You aren’t doing God a favor to repent, God is doing you a favor by allowing you to repent. Seven years ago a spark of hope came back into my soul and Jesus has been fanning it into flame ever since. Many times it felt like it would only take a breath to send me into a deep dark abyss again but God didn’t let that happen. Hope remains and has become a sure foundation in my life.

This is likely the beginning in a series on depression. Stay tuned (subscribe) for more insights into the path to freedom from Depression.

ps. If you are really going through it right now. Be encouraged. Jesus has a way for you to overcome this. When your suffering has accomplished its purpose, and I pray that it comes soon, you will be a better person for it. God will see to it.

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