How To Tip the Scale of Depression

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The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. – Proverbs 4:19 ESV

The recent spate of suicides by celebrities rendered me pensive that the world is getting darker, and darker… Many must had been in great emotional and mental turmoil that they could not overcome the lurking darkness that had gnawed relentlessly at their soul perpetually. How great must be that darkness! Indeed, even the bible warns that anxiety weighs down the heart (Proverbs 12:25) and hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). 

It is not unknown that the bible even recorded godly men have their fallen times and overtaken by darkness, one example can be found in Genesis 15:12, which reads, “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.”

I can empathise to a certain extent since I once wrestled with the onset of mild depression. Given a pessimistic nature as a result of an unhealthy upbringing during childhood, I could anticipate gloom and doom whenever my soul was down-casted. 

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! – Matthew 6:23

With no one at home to turn to nor able to share my struggles with whenever I needed help, I found it hard to trust people around me as I was taught that no one in the world was trustworthy. I was a loner, growing up with a belief system that if-no-one-can-help-me-only-I-can-help-myself. It was a sheer misery growing up that life in itself was meaningless. I painfully questioned my existence as I was lost in my own darkness and not knowing where I was heading… I could not recount the number of times I did contemplate (in my mind) to just end my miserable life, and that indelibly etched encounter with a speeding car which stopped on time at inches away from me, did jolt me up. It took me decades to surrender myself – I just need someone, whoever and whatever it was, to save me out of crises on all fronts- I was at the end of my tether then.

Thanks be to God, He drew me out of my deep water.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, – Colossians 1:13

Can you imagine that I used to be a super anti-Chirst, who cursed the God who gave me a rotten life (at that time). Such was a cynical and critical soul I was that I blatantly refuted the bible indisputably. Yet lo and behold, just because I took the first step in surrendering myself, on my humble knees desperately crying that I needed help. And miracles happened- my life was never the same since. I must say my conversion was very dramatic.

I had to expose the deeds of darkness so that I would not be held captive by them:

(a) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; – Ephesians 5:11 NASB

(b) But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. – Ephesians 5:13 NASB

And because I had exposed them, I let Jesus into my life:

(a) The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. – John 1:5 NASB

(b) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

(c) This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5

It is definitely no easy feat to come to the end of oneself to the point of total surrender. We can all be deceived or misled into thinking we are doing alright. The bible warns in 1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”Luke 11:35 also reads, “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.”

Fears can also keep us from moving forward:

(a) Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. – John 3:20

(b) And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? – Matthew 16:26 NLT

(c) For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Romans 1:21 NASB

The critical step is to first acknowledge we have a problem and need help, and want to be helped. God will then take care of the rest if we are willing. Let God has the driver’s seat, He is far much better in steering our course and in control than us. Here I am, very thankful to God that I did not lose any ounce of my sanity. All I did was to stop being stiff-necked to wallow in my own self-pities parties any longer. There is no way I can stop wrestling with darkness until I let a glimmer of light in. 

P.S. In addition, I actually could not find answers to the vicissitudes of life in other religion at that time until I picked up the bible where I found Hope, Love, assurance, comfort, strength, wisdom and direction. Thereupon, it lays the foundation of living in Freedom, Truth and Light.

The Pain Of Denial (Part 1)

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P.S. I will be sharing in parts as it will be too much to share at one time. I was prompted to share my convictions, and hope by sharing this entry in my own spiritual journal, it will bring illumination in a new light.

“If any man will come after me, let him (a) DENY himself, and (b) take up his cross DAILY, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 KJV. 

We all have heard this verse far too many times. If we are honest, we also switch off many times. This has been the mandate of my previous cell at one time till a time it became alive to me– I went through a very difficult transition in my life two years ago when I was impacted with a physical condition, although not life-threatening, that a surgery could not fix and a healing miracle seemed implausible — Dashed dreams. Crushed hope. Wretched self. Menacing fears.

The first few weeks upon receiving the check-up report, I wasn’t able to worship in church– I was incapacitated to sing nor clap along. All in my mind was, “Why??” and “God, where are you?” My ex-G12 cell and my mentor had showered me with inordinate amount of concern, but I wasn’t grateful. I just wanted to be left alone as I justified the rights to my disappointments and lamely to confess my anger with God too. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend the weekly G12 meetings, and I even withdrew myself from the cell. But to my surprise, I couldn’t abandon my open cell that I had to lead every Friday. I still fulfilled my duty, shared the Word, and put on smiles (though I was struggling very badly as if a hypocrite).

Was I wearing a mask with my open cell? No. It was one method that helped me- “Deny myself.”

I couldn’t count the number of times “I didn’t FEEL up to it or FEEL like to”, “I didn’t WANT to…”, “I hate to be forced to…”, “I have the RIGHTS to…” I merely trying to cook up excuses as justified reasons. Till I came to a point that I realised I was actually very self-centered, very consumed with “I, me, myself” and very inwards-looking, focusing on myself only. I put my feelings and emotions before God as how I feel and what I want is more important than Him. It was a constant battle to deny, deny, deny, deny myself in the pit. It was even a scarier experience when I was enshrouded with darkness, alone, and found myself drifting away spiritually over six months. I was aware of such a downwards spiral, but I refused to yield as I was wrestling with God like Jacob. What really jolted me was- I began to lose myself while threading on a very thin tightrope, and any moment longer, I think I had tipped to the other side. That was unthinkably scary.

So how did I climb out of the pit, and back to the Cross? I have to simply keep denying myself daily, yes, EVERY DAY- deny my mood for the day, deny my emotions, deny my rights, deny my will, even to denying my convenience (my own time, my own pace, my own freedom…), and surrender to the Cross.

If we are honest with ourselves, it is by NATURE we follow what our flesh leads us. It is unnatural for us to contradict our flesh and that takes SUPERNATURAL intervention with the help of the Spirit. Aside to taking action to deny the self, we can draw reinforced strength from these verses:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. – Galatians 5:16-17

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:7-8

There is no change in my physical condition, but I had stopped asking all the whys because there will never be any answer- and who am I to question the Sovereignty? It was a decision whether to continue rotting by being my own god or to let go of all and let God be God. And letting go doesn’t mean to remain status quo. Just like bible says, “Faith without action is dead”, so I had to force myself since it is unnaturally of me to crucify my flesh to weaken its desires. It is simply to put to action in denying myself.

No doubt it is an uphill task because our flesh gets stronger when our Spirit is quenched by sins. It is a humbling experience to call upon God for help in this area.

So first thing first, get right with God. Face it honestly- Overcome it with God far easier and better than letting what consumed you and lose yourself.

When All You See Is Your Pain, Perhaps Then You Lose Sight Of God?

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I was watching “The Shack” film at https://solarmoviez.to/movie/the-shack-19835.html (Thank God for the subtitles!)- I can relate to how the main character of the movie, Mack, struggled with God when he was plunged to the abyss of pain. In the process, He had an encounter with God, where Mack confronted Him why He allowed bad things to happen and why He didn’t stop the tragedies. God knew exactly how Mack was feeling, thus He had planned for Mack to meet Him at the Shack- the place where his pain began when he lost his youngest daughter. God was showing Mack that healing can only began at the place of pain when he let go and let God- Mack was stunned when God responded to his barrage of questions, “When all you can see is your pain, perhaps you have lose sight of Me.” God had walked through with Mack his journey of inner healing thereafter.

I love this movie (except some parts are a little controversial, but as a whole, the key messages are sound and edifying). I was actually stumped at the point where God told Mack, “When all you can see is your pain, perhaps you have lose sight of Me.”

Indeed, I lost sight of God two years ago when I went for a physical review. And the double whammy was when I was told I had a higher chance of getting dementia as a result of this deterioration. At that point, my world seemed to crash down and it was a very dark night. I could not help but sobbed convulsively almost involuntarily as fears seized me. I was an emotional wreck. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I bombarded God, “God, why is this happening? I thought You can heal?”, “God, are you there?”, “Is it not in your will to heal me?” and all the “Whys?”. I remember vividly, the first few weeks after my physical review, I could not worship at church service, and I could not even sing or utter prayers. I recall trying very hard to contain my pain, as if my heart was oozing blood profusely. Even well-meaning friends wasn’t able to offer the slightest comfort, and I found myself withdrawing from them instead. Over time, my heart gradually calloused, and I was in a spiritual spiral of decline when I wallowed in my own pit. That was not all, I was rendered dysfunctional and could not operate my business, I was incapacitated for almost six months.

I received no answers to all my whys, it was a vain tussle. This emotional and spiritual battle only I could fight, no one else can fight for me. I was well aware that the only way out of the pit was to climb out of it. I recalled how God had delivered from my financial crisis eons ago, He would not stop lifting me out of any deep waters (Psalm 18:16). And reality sank in when the last statement of accounts had jolted me that my savings had been dwindling, I realised then that I had been subsisting living without any income. The detachment from God had left a deep void in my heart and the spiritual deafness had made me yearned to hear from my Heavenly Father even more. I started to draw near to God, surrendering my pain and fears, and by His Grace, I received healing emotionally and spiritually. I will re-learn to trust Him for my physical healing.

Through this journey, I recognise that sometimes God allows “the pit experience” (pain) to happen in order for us to draw closer to Him, because it is human tendency that when life is going well, we may forget about Him. Isn’t it true that we pray the hardest in our most challenging moments? And we pray the least when we get too busy? (And yes, be warned that God does discipline us lovingly when we wander off..)

As the common adage that goes, “No pain, no gain.”- Pain is often a catalyst for necessary growth:

(1) that we emerge stronger with new level of faith, trust and refined character.

(2) as it changes us for good, if we allow God to deal with the issues in our lives.

(3) so that God’s strength be displayed in our weaknesses.

(4) to humble us to rely and depend on God instead of our own strength.

(5) in teaching us the value of being Christ-like in His suffering.

God always have a purpose in your pain, let Him walk you through your pain, only He can handle it far better than you do yourself. And your healing process will be shorter too.

“Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT) His grace is all you need, for His power is greatest when you are weak.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a TEV) 

Courtesy photo (P1040440) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.