In the Christian life faith is one of the greatest characteristic traits a believer should have, if not the best. It is in faith alone in how a person receives salvation. However, though salvation is a great thing to have and without a shadow of a doubt it is the best decision a person can make in their life, a believer’s faith should not stop after salvation. The Bible says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). When developing this new faith/belief/trust in Christ, we need to allow our old sins and selfishness to pass away and be born of the new things in life, which are the things of Christ. However, faith is something that a believer will never fully grow to their full capacity. We need to constantly increase our faith in our Lord. How can a Christian continue to grow in their faith?
Believers must learn to be content. In today’s society this may seem like a foreign concept to most people. This may be because there are always people in pop culture that will tell you that you cannot be happy unless you have: the trendiest clothes, the new iPhone, nice cars, and the latest video game consoles. But let's really think about this. If someone really did obtain these items and luxuries, would they actually be happy? The answer is no because this kind of mindset will make you just want more after you obtain the things you wanted. There is not a light at the end of the tunnel that is called selfishness. Christians need to learn to be happy with that which God has already blessed them with.
One portion of Scripture that really speaks out to me when being content is found in the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul was talking to the Church at Philippi and he was talking about how blessed he was to have his relationship restored because they were a big encouragement to him by sending him things and sending him Epaphroditus. During the time of no communication we see some of the struggles Paul went through during that time.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul explains to the church that he was thankful for the restoration of relationship not because he wanted anything from them. Paul desired nothing but to see the Lord’s fruit in their life. Read the remaining of the Chapter to see for yourself. Through Paul losing all communication with those in whom he loved, he learned to be content no matter what his circumstances were. He was content whether he was abased (depressed/humiliated) or abound (to be in excess), full or hungry, abound or suffering need (to lack). Paul had experienced some really hard times in his life: he had been beaten three times, shipwrecked, and even stoned. Not only that, but he had a thorn in his flesh that God said he was not going to get rid of. Despite these facts, Paul had seen great high points in his life: outreach to the Gentiles, and the salvation of the Philippian jailer.
The Apostle knew how it felt to be full and how it was to be hungry. He had felt many times the energy that proper nourishment gave him physically. He also knew the struggles of being starved and physically weak. He learned how it was to have all his needs met and he knew how it was to suffer basic necessity. But we see that Paul did not depend on the basic commodities to keep him content. If he was depending on those things, then during the times he was abased, hungered, and suffered need he would not have been content. In the Scripture, we see Paul’s contentment comes from the strength of the Lord. Christian, I tell you that you can access the same contentment that Paul had by just depending on God’s strength. Stop worrying about things that you wish that you had. Just be thankful for all that God has blessed you with.
Over the next several weeks we are going to keep tackling this topic of increasing your faith. It starts with learning to be content in that which the Lord has already given us. The world wants what they do not have and when they get what they want, they continually want something different. Christians ought to be thankful for that which we have. Stop looking at what we do not have and be content with what the Lord is allowing us to have. Just by being content, you will develop a new depth to your faith.
Is. It. Real?
Raising Awareness for Depression
Is depression real? Just asking this question will stir up strong emotions in the hearts of many who will read this post. If you will give me a chance, over the next several weeks I would like to share my heart on this matter. My goal with this first post is not to answer all the questions concerning depression or to provide a cure for depression. I believe that I can help with this matter, but first I hope to spend this time to raise a little awareness.
Let us start with awareness…
Among the authorities
Depression is defined by Webster as “a sinking of the spirits; dejection; a state of sadness; want of courage or animation.” Modern psychiatry offers the following: “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. ... Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.”(1) Webmd states that clinical depression is “when intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless -- lasts for many days to weeks and keeps you from living your life.”(2) Also, simply put by Wikipedia, depression is “a state of low mood and aversion to activity.”(3) Finally, the Bible uses the terms “sorrow of heart,” “sorrow of mind,” “worldly sorrow,” “overmuch sorrow,” “heaviness,” or “careful” when speaking of depression.
Now let us look at awareness…
Among young people
According to cbn.com, 9 out of 10 adolescents have periods of depression that last at least two weeks and often go untreated and ignored. Crosswalk.com stated that "the rate of teenage depression is at an all time high. ... the general incidence of suicide ... has tripled among young people ages 15 to 24." They go on to state that the "causes of depression and anxiety can range from a genetic predisposition to a variety of illnesses. And, a pop culture filled with empty messages of 'love em and leave em', a devaluation of human life, the fact that 40 percent of children live in a broken home and an emphasis on materialism is enough to make even the healthiest child wonder if his/her life really matters." We cannot bury our heads in the sand. This is a real problem in the lives of those who need us the most, our youth.
See also awareness…
Among leaders in faith & history
In the Christian headlines of late, we are seeing a regular stream of church leaders who are struggling with depression and even many who are attempting suicide as a release from the enormous weight that depression has caused. Is this new? I say not. Leaders of the past have suffered from this condition as well. It was said that Spurgeon was never the same following a great tragedy where, at his church, seven were killed and many others were wounded. His wife, Susannah, wrote, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.” Later, it would be physical ailments that added to his bouts of depression.(4) The following has been said about Lincoln: “Lincoln resorted to humor when he needed to resolve the gloom. Aware that his storytelling and joking were essential to his mental balance. He once told his law partner Herndon "if it were not for these stories-jokes-jests I should die: they give vent-are the vents of my moods and gloom."(5) We will talk at a later time about how these men were able to cope with their symptoms.
Among the hero’s of the Scripture
In the pages of Scripture we see some of the great men of the Bible, battling with sorrow, wishing they had never been born! Elijah, after a great victory on Mt. Carmel, runs from Jezebel and wishes for God to kill him.(6) Job, during his great trial and the accusations of his friends, wishes that he had died at birth.(7) David went through many ups and downs in his ascent to the throne and his sin with Bathsheba. Many of the prophets were severely distressed as they endured persecution and the testing of God for His people. Even Paul experienced much “heaviness of heart” in his yearning for Israel to accept Christ.(8) There is much to be learned from the Word of God that can help us combat this epidemic, but we will save that for another post.
Do you, or someone you know have prolonged periods of sadness? If so, I think that you could answer our opening question affirmatively. Depression is real. It affects people all around us, people from all races and genders, people from all walks of life. Let us be active in the conversation and learn more about this great plague of the mind that is stifling the growth of our loved ones. Let us be ready with an answer and available to support those who need us. Truly, it could be any of us that need the help tomorrow.
(6) 1 Kings 19:1-4
(7) Job 3:11,12
(8) Romans 9:1-5