3. Pray. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV) and “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV) I combined these two commands and started to pray continually that God would give me joy. When we are depressed, we can’t just paste a smile on and call it happiness; we need a deeply fulfilling joy that has the byproduct of a smile. The source of joy is our relationship with the Lord, so we must seek him with all our hearts in prayer. We must knock and keep knocking on the doors of heaven, begging for restored joy, with the hope that God “rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)
4. Continue habits of listening to God. In my two weeks of depression, I continued to get up and read the Bible every day, even though I didn’t feel like it. I also continued to read Christian literature and listen to sermons online. Before reading or listening to a sermon, I would ask God to speak to me. I needed Him to help me understand where the depression came from and how to fix it. Every single day during those two weeks, He slowly revealed to me why I was depressed and necessary truth that would help me move out of the depression. (NOTE: It is important that we develop good habits of listening to God when we are NOT depressed, so that these habits are ingrained in us when hard times hit, and we go to them automatically.)
5. Go to the cross. On the last night of my depression, it was my job to prepare the Lord’s supper at church. As I placed the bread in the serving trays and filled each cup, I was reminded that Christ knows what it’s like to suffer pain. I was also reminded that only Christ has the power to rescue a person from despair. He is the one who rescues people from the power of darkness, not only on the first day we choose to follow Him but on every day after that. We do not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We call out for help, and He rescues. Depression feels like death, and Christ conquered death as He died and then was raised again by the power of God three days later. God can use that same power to rescue us from the grave of dark emotions.
Everyone experiences seasons of depression, and even one day of this is miserable and disorienting. But those of us who know Christ have a source of joy and power to tap into that can free us from the chains of oppressive emotions. I earnestly sought God for emotional health, and He rewarded me. He will reward you, too. I promise.