Rejoice in the Lord always: the 4 steps to finding joy in times of depression.
Recently, the Lord revealed to me that there is a spirit of depression currently enveloping His people. The funny thing is I didn't even need Him to tell me: I saw it in the very friends I'd been speaking to day to day.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
This quarantine doesn't exactly allow us to rejoice, despite Paul's advice in Philippians. We're squandering daily for new ways to use our time, ways that will allow our days to lift themselves out of a dull routine. I've had those days myself, where all I've wanted to do is stay in bed with a ready meal in the microwave and Netflix ready to play. Feeling this way is normal: I mean, we've been stuck behind the same four walls for over two months now. When you think about it, I'm surprised we haven't all gone completely bonkers!
But I'm here to encourage you today with a short and powerful message. One that is not from me but from your eternal Father, the one who loves you and sees every moment. Even the ones you spend trying not to look at yourself in the mirror out of fear that you'll notice the flab you've gained in the past few weeks. He sees when you feel like you're wasting away days totally unmotivated and feeling like a failure. He also sees when you manage to start something new only to lose motivation twenty minutes later and give up entirely. He knows you. And the best part of it all is that you are not in it alone. Never alone.
Steps for conquering the spirit of depression:
1. Be kind to yourself.
Know that it's okay to take one or two days, or maybe even three, to be a little lazy, to lounge about instead of religiously following through with your daily schedule. It's okay if you've gained a little weight, you're still beautiful. It's also okay if you haven't been able to do all you wanted to do or if you feel you always give up on most things in life and henceforth never achieve anything proper (been there!). It's alright.
We always get taught to love ourselves, but that doesn't just mean accepting your body and personality. It also means allowing yourself to have a few days where you feel a little down. If you're a little lonely, then that's okay. It's understandable. Know that the reasons you have for feeling the way you do are totally valid! And the best part is we all have the same reason, so go find someone to talk to about it.
Alright... allowed time to be kind to yourself and take a few days off? Okay, now onto the next step:
2. Look to the future, not the past.
I'm having conversations with so many people that keep telling me that they miss all these things they used to do: jogging, walking through town, shopping, seeing friends, going out, eating out, and on and on. Yes, I know there are many things we have been restricted from doing lately, and of course, it's been sad.
But enough with Mr Self-Pity! Stop looking at the past and the way your life used to be and how marvellously happy you were once upon a time. Instead, look at the now as an adventure, for we all know very well this quarantine won't last forever. I know we all had a little more motivation at the beginning and are starting to lose it. But find it again! If you're bored of the same old thing every day, then pick up something new, mix up your schedule, try more things, do whatever it takes to keep yourself from falling into the trap of what-used-to-be's.
Look to the future. Think of it this way: if I told you you had two weeks left of sitting at home and having more time on your hands than you will once things return to normal, what would you do? Well for me, I want to finish that novel I've been writing and I want to paint and plan the next step in my career. Do it now before life comes and steals all your time again! Look at this time not as a prison sentence, but as your last opportunity to act with wisdom.
As you work to stay positive, remember the next step:
3. Keep fighting.
Remember that as children of God, we are in a constant battle field. In a quiet field full of landmines. All things may seem peaceful and tranquil outside, but really, the spirit is fighting hard to keep us afloat above all the attacks of the enemy. The minute we win against something, another battle begins. But take heart, son or daughter of God, for you are a more than a conqueror through Him who loves you and the victory is yours! (Romans 8:37)
Stay alert and always ready, because the enemy comes subtly and hides behind all forms of lies and situations until he is so close to you that you don't even know how he ended up there. He gets so close that his face is terrifying and only fear cripples you in that moment. Yet, don't sit and think of the power of the enemy, for next to our God, he is nothing. And nothing can compare to the victory that Jesus has given us. Merely look at the enemy's tactic so that you may recognise it when you are under attack and you may not accept your new state of mind, situation or physical state as normality. But you may see that it's actually easily conquered by one name alone: JESUS.
Stay close to the father: He calls out to you, ready to speak.
Then... there's one last step:
The Bible says we need to rejoice. ALWAYS. Not sometimes and just on the good days. Always.
The Lord Jesus has given us enough of a reason to rejoice through His love and compassion for us. When we add His provision, blessings over our lives, mercy, grace, understanding, goodness and so much more to it, we realise there is actually a LOT to rejoice about. And if all else fails, then rejoice just because God is who He says He is: a good, good father. And knowing that we have a good father watching over us has me leaping out of bed in the morning and singing praises to Him until my throat aches. He deserves all of my energy and worship.
In order to rejoice with our spirit and soul, we need to worship. Don't just pretend to be happy until you are. I'm talking about real joy here, not the world's level of joy. The kind that has you walking on clouds of peace when the doctors say your cancer is terminal, the kind that fills your heart with laughter when your entire family abandons you. The kind of fulfilment that is within you even you lose your job, your house and all that you own. I'm talking about real joy. Even in this time of COVID-19.
Rejoice is also a verb: it means to cause joy to someone. Well, the Lord wants to cause you joy!
He wants to fill you until you overflow. So take some time to let His presence come into your room, your mind and your heart. Allow Him to erase all the stress this world is facing and to combat that spirit of depression with His immanent light until there's nothing else but a strong spirit of action thrust upon you, making this quarantine not what the enemy intended in depression and misery. But making it a blessing and a journey to know your Heavenly Father that much more, to grow in love and to experience the kind of joy that almost doesn't seem possible right now. But through Him, all things are possible.
Let's do this together and inspire everyone outside of Jesus' tent to say to themselves: