A Guest Post from Dr. Michelle Bengtson
At a recent event I attended, a dear woman came up to speak with me. After a few minutes of chatting, she asked if she could pray for me. Never one to turn down prayer, I said, “Of course!”
After she prayed, she explained, “I often pray for others to experience joy, but I didn’t pray that for you because it’s obvious you already have His joy.”
She went on her way while her comments lingered in my mind. While she was accurate in her perception, I thought back to the days when they couldn’t have been further from the truth; days when the darkness of depression was all I could see and I feared that perhaps I was joy-immune.
Yes, that was a lie I began to believe, whispered to my soul from the enemy whom the Bible says roams around seeking whom he can devour. And devour he did, for many years. Until God with His sovereign hand pulled me from the enemy’s grasp.
I had grown up in a home with a mother who suffered from depression the entire time I lived at home—except we didn’t call it that. It was “just the way she was.” My heart ached for her, because she could have experienced the abundant life Jesus came to give if we had only recognized her suffering for what it was, and battled it head on.
After I grew up and left the home, I went into the field of neuropsychology and diagnosed and treated patients with depression for twenty years before I succumbed to its wrath myself. And when I did, the enemy made sure I felt the shame of it: the doctor who was supposed to have all the answers was now the patient. And worse yet, I tried all the treatment suggestions I had offered to my patients for 20 years, and they helped but they were insufficient to eradicate my own depression.
Now I was not only depressed, but I felt like a fraud. If the very suggestions I had offered to patients for years didn’t fix my own depression, how could I expect them to trust me as the expert in the future?
It was only when God showed me that I had to address the spiritual side of depression that the chains began to fall off.
John 10:10 declares, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
In the case of depression, the enemy works to steal our joy, kill our peace, and destroy our identity. He does so largely through our thoughts.
I remember how he worked on me.
Comparison is the thief of joy. It took very little to steal my joy when I looked at what others were doing and minimized my own efforts. The enemy simply had to whisper, “You’ll never be as good as her.”
My peace quickly evaporated when the enemy shamed me with my sin: “Do you really think God can forgive you after what you’ve done?”
I quickly began to question my identity when with my depression, the enemy shouted, “You’re worthless.”
But just like God limited the impact the enemy could have on Job’s life, God does the same for us even in the valley of depression. The second half of John 10:10 says that “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
God doesn’t allow the enemy, nor depression to determine our worth, dictate our destiny, or separate us from the love of God. He offered His son as a living sacrifice to prove His love and our value, and secure our eternal destiny.
Why I would listen to the lies of the enemy over a God who loved me so much He’d die for me, I’ll never be able to explain. But He loved me enough to break off the chains of depression and prove that because of Him, hope prevails.
Scripture says that God is no respecter of persons, meaning He doesn’t play favorites. So what He did for me, He longs to do for you as well. Will you give Him a chance?
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
For a Free eBook on How to Help a Depressed Loved One, click here: http://drmichellebengtson.com/how-to-help-a-depressed-loved-one-ebook/
Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) is an international speaker, and the author of best-selling “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” and the newly released companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study.” She has been a neuropsychologist for more than twenty years. She is in private practice in Southlake, Texas where she evaluates, diagnoses, and treats children and adults with a variety of medical and mental health disorders. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She and her husband of 30 years have two teenage sons, and reside in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
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