As Christians, as human beings, we will struggle with depression or despondency. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” This is a clear call that the soul of a saint needs to be “revived”. If it needs to be revived, it also means the soul was “dead”. A familiar verse is Psalm 23:2-3 “He leads me beside quiet waters” “He restores my soul.”
The intent of this blog is not to point to our collective misery but we need to be encouraged that we are not alone in this. Rather than sit in the dark, we need to mount a personal and collective fight against spiritual depression. How do we fight?
Jesus is again our example. The God-Man Jesus was facing the reality of going to the cross, the devil tempting him not to do it. Thus Jesus was “troubled” (John 12:17: "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.’ "No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.; John 13:21: After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.") But in the same gospel, Jesus tells us, his disciples, in John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
When we are tempted to give up or tempted to give in to despondency, it is not sin. We must fight. How did Jesus fight the devil’s temptation to give up on the purpose Jesus was sent to do? Jesus purpose was to redeem fallen man by going to the Cross of Calvary.
Matthew 26:36-39 says: "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
We can learn how to fight the temptation of despondency from Jesus. Note:
- He chose some close friends to be with Him (v.37)
- He opened His soul to them (v.38). He told them He was grieved to the point of death.
- He asked for intercession and partnership in battle (v. 39) “Remain here & keep watch”
- He poured out His heart to God the Father in prayer (v.39)
- He rested His soul in the sovereign wisdom of God (v.39) “Yet not as I will, but as Thou will.”
- He fixed His eyes on things beyond the cross (Hebrews 12:2 – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”