At times I’ve found myself standing in sinking sand (emotionally and spiritually), and I am certain I am not alone. The years I told you about yesterday was a time I was overwhelmed and depressed. I wish I could say it was the only time, but it wasn’t. If you find yourself in the throws of depression, I encourage you to read the book of Hebrews where the writer repeatedly encourages his readers with promises of hope and the exhortation to persevere. It provides truths and principles to show us how to relate to one another when disappointments come; it warns us of the temptations that often accompany our struggles; and it provides us with the perspective to overcome.
Those of us who are in Christ have a new agreement and covering from the Lord: “‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days’, says the Lord: ‘I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them'” (Heb 10:16). This Scripture quotes the prophesy in Jeremiah 31:33, where the Lord spoke of a new covenant for both Jews and Gentiles, where we can have a personal relationship with God Himself, with His laws written on our hearts and minds, so that the relationship is established and permanent.
Those of us who come underneath the covering of this covenant by trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior are reminded that even though we may be struggling and going through a rough time, we have something to look forward to. There is a plan in place, a new deal of sorts, assuring us of covering, protection, provision, and more if we will just hang in there (persevere) and keep moving forward in faith.
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Heb 10:19-23)
Instead of turning around and running away from the faith and turning to worldliness to feel better, we are encouraged to “draw near”. Instead of letting issues and disappointment create in us a spirit of fear and doubt, we are to live with “full assurance of faith” and “hold fast the confession of our hope” because “He who promised is faithful”. Drawing near is a bold approach to His throne of grace and mercy (Heb 4:16). Holding fast means being real with God in His presence–ready to access the benefits of the covenant He has in store for each of us (Rom 12:2). When hardship comes, that’s when we need all the more to draw near to God. When we don’t then we risk listening to the lies of the enemy.
I am blessed to have true friends in the community of believers. Especially when we are going through rough times, we need our community to point us back to God’s Word. “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Prov. 27:17) The Word of God is a “double-edged sword” (Heb 4:12), and it is with this that we are to sharpen one another—in times of meeting, fellowship, or any other interaction. It is truly the best way that we can encourage one another (Heb. 3:13), reminding one another that “He who promised is faithful”.
Several months ago I was depressed, and felt it difficult to keep my head above water. The Lord sent a friend to me to ask what was going on with me, and she wasn’t looking for a surface response. Through her, the Lord showed me that instead of listening to the enemy’s lies, I must turn to Him and submit to His truth. She rightly reminded me that I was listening to the lies of the enemy. We prayed together immediately and bound the enemy, and called on the Lord to remove the depression. We called on His promise: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
God doesn’t always make an immediate change, but in this case He did just that. The depression was immediately lifted. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)
We prayed together in agreement of God’s Word. That’s a key — we aren’t meant to do life alone. We need the encouragement from other believers, and we need to share the same encouragement to each other. If you don’t have a community of believers locally, I encourage you to go out and find them and foster those relationships. The enemy wants us separated from God’s people because we are stronger together. “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccl. 4:12) We need encouragement from each other to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering”. Be an encourager and you will receive encouragement!