When Life is a Struggle

6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

1 Samuel 30 v 6

Its that time of the year again when all seems bleak and void of life! The weather is cold, dull and all you want to do is snuggle in bed, hide under your duvet and hibernate. But what if the feeling of disengagement towards daily life is a sign of something deeper than just wanting a duvet day? What do you do when all seems to be against you? You have done all that is humanly possible to do, have prayed and fasted yet life seems to be at war with you? There appears to be no respite wherever you turn to in life but quite the polar opposite, it feels as though there is a brick wall facing you whichever way you turn. The joy of life has been sucked out of you and instead of living life to the full, you feel as though life is passing you by and everyone else is having their best life while you stand by spectating. You just can’t seem to shake off the feeling of sadness although you are not particularly sure where it stems from. All you know is that this is not the life you dreamt of having as a kid when you were growing up. Therefore I ask again, what do you do when the sunshine in your life appears to draw in and darkness overtakes your outlook on life? Hope looks far away in an unreachable land and your world seems to be closing in?

According to mind, a mental health charity in the UK, 1 in 6 people suffer from ‘common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week’. For those who have never really faced any difficulties and challenges in life, hearing someone voice this may seem foreign or even blasphemous however there are multitudes of people facing and living with anxiety and depression in the world.

So what brings about the state of anxiety and depression? I find that this is not a straightforward thing to diagnose but oftentimes an angle to look at from is that of when disappointment strikes. We have expectations for our lives and a way of coping with circumstances however when all seems to pile up and you see no way out, the result can lead to anxiousness and depression.

In Christendom, am convinced many are facing deep depression and anxieties but are unable to voice it out due to the notion of being seen as weak and faithless. Many of us Christians are hiding behind the cloak of ‘By the grace of God all is well’ while deep emotional wounds fester in our souls untreated. We are not being truthful with ourselves and others around what we are going through because we have been programmed to put our best foot forward at all times, always be happy and have positive confessions. But what do you do when these positive confessions are not manifesting into reality? I personally believe in speaking good about our situations even when it looks like it can never get better because ‘faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11 v 1) however I also feel there should be a level of transparency with those we classify as being part of our lives. I understand most people ask how we are but are not really interested in our response but those whom we feel are genuine should be given a fair response. I am also guilty of hiding behind the “all is well” response while quickly diverting the attention from me when asked how am doing especially when all is not going well with me. I believe during these times, genuine friendships can be fostered if we are all a little bit more open with one another.

The Bible speaks of the power in our tongues and being careful of what comes out of our mouths. The people of Israel while wandering in the desert were murmuring against God so the word of God came to them saying in Numbers 14 v 27-28

27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.

28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:

We must be careful not to speak against God during these times but like Job, bless His Holy name for the good and the bad. This is always easier said than done but I believe God is able to give us the necessary strength to endure and praise His name as long as we ask Him.

Here are some proven ways to lessen the burden when overwhelmed by anxiety and depression.

  • Encourage your self in the Lord.

Read your Bible and focus on the promises of God for your life. It may be personal promises or general ones in the Bible that speaks to your situation. Find a concordance and search for the topic relating to your issue and be encouraged by how God delivered the saints of time past.

In 1 Samuel chapter 30, the Bible talks of the adversity King David endured during his exile in Ziklag. He and his men had gone out to support the Philistines who were accommodating them while forced to flee Israel due to King Saul seeking to kill him. When David and his men returned home after their exploits, they found that they had been raided by Amalekites and their wives and children had been taken away to captivity. We learn from our titled scripture in 1 Samuel 30 v 6 that David encouraged himself the Lord. Whether you have or do not have anyone to encourage you during times of struggles, it is good to affirm yourself and speak life into your situation. Here are some scriptures that have always brought me to hope in times of despair and discouragement:

Jeremiah 29 v 11 – 14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

Romans 8 v 28; 33-39

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 10 v 13
There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Hebrews 13 v 5
Let your manner of living be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have. For He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”;

Isaiah 41 v 10

10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness

Philippians 4 v 6-8

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Ecclesiastes 3 v 1 – 8

1To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

  • Take it to the Lord in prayer

Although God sees and knows all things, it is beneficial for us to speak out to and open up to Him about what we are going through and feeling no matter how insignificant it may seem. Jesus spoke in Matthew 10 v 30 that the number of hairs on our heads are numbered by God and if Jesus Christ cares about the sparrows in the sky who are considered insignificant but ensures they have something to eat each day, how much more is His jealousy over us and His commitment to us who are created in His own image? Its easier said than done but during a deep state of depression its easy to feel abandoned by God and to wonder if He loves us but I reckon one of the best ways to beat this is prayer. The plan of the enemy of our souls is to keep us as far away from God as possible and he succeeds when we turn out backs on God during trying times. After all, we have been warned in 1 Peter 5 v 8 “to be sober, be vigilant; because of your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”. Our Lord Jesus Christ told us that the devil came only to steal, kill and destroy but He came to give us life abundantly(John 10 v 10). One of the ways to overcome the enemy when he comes with depressing thoughts is shown to us in James 4 v 7 which is to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

  • Speak to a trusted friend or family member if possible.

We have been called to bear one another’s burden so if you feel what you are going through is more than you can bear alone, find someone who is matured in Christ who can give you sound biblical advice and pray with you until you have passed through to the other side.

  • Put your thoughts down on paper

If you have no one to speak to or are finding it hard to pray, the best way to get your emotions out is through writing. A letter to God pouring out those emotions you are scared to voice out will help you get some of the burdens off your shoulders. Since we know that no situation is permanent and us human are fickle, writing down your thoughts can serve as a testimonial and a reminder of the goodness of God once He has seen you through. This develops faith as you go back and read what was taking place in your mind back then. It also helps encourage you that no trial lasts forever.

  • Count your blessings

There’s always someone worse off or better off than us. If we focus on the things God has done for us, we’ll realise that we are actually loved by Him and that those things we feel we are lacking or aren’t quite right can and will be easily taken care off by Him at the set time he has for us according to His will. Comparison is a killer of joy and doing so will ensure we are never satisfied with life. Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4 v 11 that:

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Let’s choose to look at the bright side of life and the glass will always be half full for us.

  • Listen to some good Christian music

Music is a form of therapy so listen to the songs that build up your faith or brightens your day and it won’t take long for you to snap out of feeling down.

  • Treat yourself with your favourite things

Oftentimes we wait around for people to treat us good when we can actually do that ourselves. Spiritual problems cannot be solved with physical/carnal solutions but in most cases doing the things that bring us joy can make us forget the lies the enemy is trying to feed us. So the next time you feel down, why not run yourself a warm bath, have your favourite meal and go visit those people or place that makes you feel alive?

In conclusion, no matter what you are facing today, please know there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother and that friend is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Now the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15 v 13

Links:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.XF2yhRinyyU

*All scriptures are taken from the King James Version of the Bible