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Sermon Reflection - Overcoming Discouragement & Depression

Posted by Darren Lim on

Stress is at an all time high with many experiencing more severe and prolonged bouts of anxiety and depression than in the past.  These conditions are clinically better understood and so prevalent that they are classified as real diseases - much like cancer or congenital heart disease - and no longer treated as a stigma or fiction of one's imagination.

I have had my fair share of stressful situations, anxiety attacks and from what I can tell, though not clinically diagnosed, close brushes with depression where I often woke up in the middle of the night with feelings of dread. There are days where it took everything I had to just get out of bed. I still do from time to time slip back into these patterns of anxiety as it is in my nature to be worried and concerned about everything. It was by the grace of God and the support of fellow Christians that I managed to break out of that never ending cycle. I have since come out of these experiences stronger and more aware of the state of my emotions. Tell-tale signs such as irritability and forgetfulness are now yellow flags signaling for me to step back and re-evaluate my relationship with Jesus. 

Being a survivor of sorts, I attempted to help a close friend breakthrough his struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He was seeing a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist and was also on antidepressants. It was so bad that there were awkward moments where he would break down into tears speaking about it. I was able to empathize with what he was feeling but after several weeks, I started becoming prescriptive when his condition didn’t seem to be improving. He was not getting anywhere and not doing anything about it. I shared that he needed God and also prescribed various tools and strategies that worked well for me.

It was during my morning journaling on John 15: 10-12 in which Jesus said “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love….My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you”. The Holy Spirit impressed upon my soul that I have not been loving. I was taken back to all the earlier conversations. How I was impatient, annoyed, insensitive and to a certain extent harsh and judgemental of my friend’s situation. No young struggling parent likes an older parent trivializing their parenting challenges but I was doing something similar to my friend. My friend didn’t need to be told that he was failing miserably and that he needed to do something. At the same time, the pity pie was not of much use either. So now the predicament was delicately negotiating between two extremes of being a guest to the sob party on one end and  a know-it-all expert on the other.

My friend’s struggle is real, it is visceral but there is purpose and significance wrapped up in the hope we have in Christ. I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me spiritual discernment and wisdom to know how to love and to share the truth in kindness. My prayer is that I will be able to patiently sympathize, empathize, pray, encourage and support him to make small incremental breakthroughs. Just being there to listen without being judgemental and to celebrate small victories. I pray that God will use me in such a way that through my actions, he will come to know that God loves him - he is valuable and precious in God’s eyes.