Depression and Hope
Made of Habits – Lesson 3 of the “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Bible Study Guide
It is ok to be sad and even sorrowful at times. But when you stay there, your perspective becomes skewed. Days become un-necessarily dreary and you begin to see life through gray colored lenses. Depression is at times, more of a choice and a lifestyle than an unbreakable curse upon us. To buy in to this lie is to give up on hope for a better day.
I dislike teaching a class on depression for a very selfish reason, because the chance is always great that you will dig up old things and wind up getting pulled into the vortex. Depression is magnetic. You would be surprised at how easy it is when things are going good just to entertain the thought of something that happened in the past and begin dwelling on it, re-living those sources of depression. So, we are not going to do that. Instead we will do a quick fly by on depression but focus our attention on the application section at the end.
I do not believe it is by chance that the average age of onset for major persistent depression is 31-32.5 years of age. For many, in our day and time, around this age is when idealized dreams begin to disintegrate. Depression is characterized by an overwhelming sadness, low energy and loss of interest, anger and anxiety. No longer living, just existing. However, for this discussion, I am going to define depression as a habit of thought you entertain longer than necessary to establish a perceived reality.
The best way I can concisely define depression is to say it is an internal question, that we don’t necessarily ask ourselves or are even cognizant that this thought is going on in our minds, but it is a fill in the blank:
How will life go on without _________?
What areas in our lives provoke feelings of depression? Write them down, because these will be the very areas we pray that God will show us hope. It’s obvious we don’t get depressed over things we have no interest in. We get depressed about losses that we value: Loss of a job, break-ups, vacation ending, achievement, unmet expectations, rejection, loneliness, poor decisions that caused pain to you or others, loss of freedom/mobility, sickness, loss of a loved one, and social isolation.
We have this picture of what life is supposed to be and many times that picture never develops. We dwell on this loss consistently. It becomes a regular practice that we find ourselves returning to daily. It becomes our focus and we essentially say I give up. For me, depression primarily relates to addiction in the sense that we are looking for things to make the pain go away, don’t want to deal with this now, this will make everything better. And for many of us, we commit to this false dream that always fails us.
Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.Proverbs 16:20
Coming to Terms
What is your first reaction to loss or when something didn’t live up to what you thought it would be? For many, including myself, it is anger that consistently weaves and worms its way to depression. Our scripture reference for this topic comes from Jeremiah. To fully understand this verse, we have to understand the context from which it came (Reference Jeremiah 29:4-14 for the full context)
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11
Because of Israel’s continued disobedience, they would be taken captive by the Babylonians. God is speaking to them by Jeremiah through a letter. He tells them to continue living life. Build houses, dwell in them, plant gardens and eat of them, marry and have children. Also, to seek the welfare of the city they have been exiled to, to pray for it, because by doing so they would find their welfare in the city. They’ve lost house, home, land, their temples, their city. God even tells them this exile will last for 70 years before He comes back to free them. Think about that, captive for 70 years. An entire generation. Many would die a slave in a foreign land.
By all accounts, they have a right to be sad, to be depressed. But God told them to keep living life. This seems like such a peculiar sentiment. I feel that it was because of our proclivity to focus on our circumstances and get overwhelmed and lose all perspective. He didn’t tell them to give up or give in. He told them to keep living. Go about a good routine. And he even ended it with not only a promise, but perspective. If we cannot come to terms with the loss, we will become trapped in the routine and cycle it over and over. It becomes our soundtrack.
Overcome Addiction Recovery Bible Study Guide Application – Break the Routine
How many of you have a morning routine? What happens when that routine is interfered with? For me being a recovering addict, routines are easy to create, just as long as we are interested in them. We are great at creating habits. However, the difference between success and failure at the things that matter in life are the habits we choose to create.
It takes work, it takes effort and intentionality to not only break a bad habit, but to begin a better one. And as much as depression is a habit, hope is a habit as well. Hope requires us to not just focus on the bad or the good, but God: For I know the plans I have for you in the midst of the bad. We may not see the entirety of His plans…We doubt God’s goodness and His plans, which never turns out well for us.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8
Not that this is a comprehensive list or even ordered in the way it may directly work best for you, but it is as logical as I can surmise the act of replacement. One last note before the list begins. In all of these applications, feelings will fail you. You choose to do this not because you feel like it, but because of the outcome. We do this, knowing it will produce a long-term gain, fruit.
- Become self-aware of your habits. The best way to do this is to slow down and look at your life. A sign of spiritual growth is becoming more aware of our natural bend as it demonstrates itself in our decisions and daily habits.
- Break destructive habits by replacing them with spiritual, productive ones. Sometimes it is as simple as making the effort, whether you want to or not. Like going to the gym or exercising, most people are not initially excited about it. But months after the hard work, they begin to see results. It is the same way with getting into God’s word. The yield it produces not only is profitable for you, but for others around you. So, ask yourself, what is something good, worthy of my time to focus on, to learn, to do?
- Lastly, focus on the fact that you are loved enough and cared about enough that Jesus chose to die for you and wants more for you than to be under the thumb of depression. He wants you to be full of hope. And all of this to say, this is where you put yourself to find hope…
The “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Bible Study Guide is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.
Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire the “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Bible Study Guide.
We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC. Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship. Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book