We've spent several posts on how to keep our lamp burning, how to strengthen ourselves in body, soul, and spirit so that His light can shine in the dark nights of life.
But sometimes, in some places, for all of us, the lamp goes out. We get tired or discouraged or just plain"burned out". And we feel defeated. In fact, we can feel so defeated that we don't try to get the lamp back on. Countless Christ-followers have found themselves in dark places and felt so hopeless they just decided to stay there. They didn't think there was any way out. So they spend the rest of their lives feeling depressed or useless or trying to medicate themselves out of it with all sorts of remedies.
I don't want that for you and me. I want us to know that, if somehow we find ourselves in the dark night of despair, if we've lost our joy and our lamp has gone out, we don't have to stay there. We can get the light back on.
I know I love lists and this seems too complex a subject to "list" our way out but I do think it's helpful to have some action to move us out, some steps to take to climb up, some things to do to find hope.
So here is my "A" list for Attacking Depression- I pray you find some encouragement. And, let me hear from you - I really do care. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org I'm leaving the light on for you....
The A List for Attacking Depression:
1. Accept personal responsibility
Blaming our circumstances or other people for the darkness in our lives is not beneficial. At all.
God commands us to be joyful (check it out - Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 are just two of the many
places where He does so!) so it is within the realm of possibility for us to do so. Once we accept
the responsibility for the state of our lamp, then we are within reach of the power to shine
2. Address physical needs wisely
We established way back in the beginning of this series that our physical well-being impacts our
mental, emotional, and spiritual state. Sometimes, what we need to get our lamp burning brightly
is a good night's sleep. (My wise husband says that oftentimes the most spiritual thing we can do
is to take a nap!) Now before you start whining to yourself that you would LOVE a good night's
sleep but you have all these littles that won't sleep, remember #1 on our A list - accept personal
responsibility. You can do alot of things that can help you get some sleep - and I am not suggesting hard drugs (but if you need half a tablet of Tylenol PM from time to time, you go girl! Check with
your physician first! I am not dispensing medical advice here! Although I have certainly been
known to....but that's another post...) You can sleep train your children - yes, you can - I did and
you can as well. You can get off Facebook, go to bed earlier, etc.
And sleep is not the only answer to #2 on our A list. Some exercise (does not half to be marathon
training, ok??) and some healthier eating can help. And yes, this is coming from the TAB Queen :)
Addressing (not obsessing about) our physical needs has a great impact on the brightness of our
lamps. When the prophet Elijah was despairing of life itself, God sent an angel to direct him to
sleep and eat. Oh, blessed thoughts!
3. Absorb mass quantities of Scripture
The Truth of God's Word turns the light on for us. In, oh, so many ways! It convicts us of sin,
shows us the right path to take, comforts us in our affliction, encourages us when we are in need,
and it replaces the destructive lies that often reside in our hearts. So ingest it on a regular and
consistent basis. The psalmist says in chapter 43:2, "O send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them
lead me to Thy holy hill and to Thy dwelling places". And I love the promise included in I
Thessalonians 2:13 - "...you received the Word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word
of men, but for what it really is, the Word of God, which performs its work in you who
believe." Scripture, not feelings or experiences or circumstances, is what God uses to transform
us, to lead us out of darkness and despair...to turn the light back on.
4. Admit sin
The enemy uses sin to deceive us, to send us into despair, and to destroy us. So we need to get rid
of it! When God's Spirit gently shows us our sin, it is to our great advantage to agree with Him !
Once we confess our sin (that is what it means to agree with Him!), we open our hearts to receive
His lavish grace and mercy...and that is the welcome mat into the Light and out of darkness. In
Ephesians 4:26-32 the Apostle Paul teaches us that unresolved anger and unforgiveness actually
creates a place for the Enemy of our souls to slip in and create havoc. So get rid of sin as quickly
as God reveals it!
5. Add something new and productive to your life
When the prophet Elijah was in his state of despair, God not only directed him to address his
physical needs (I Kings 19:5-7) and led him into truth (vs 8-12), He then gave him a new assign-
ment. He sent him in a new direction (vs. 15-21) and even gave him a new friend in this ministry.
That is an example for us. When we find ourselves in a place with no light, it might just be that the
way into the light is to do something new (and beneficial). Maybe it's just to add a 15 minute walk
to your day. Or to write a note of encouragement to someone. Or it might even be to begin a new
place of service. Ask Him what He wants you to add to your life...and then do it!