At the beginning of my bipolar disorder, I experienced two severe depressions following my first manic episode. I was despondent and numb. I couldn’t respond to others. I felt lost and alone. After a depression, I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t think anything good could come out of it. Initially, I did not experience any joy. My fleeting happiness directed me. However, that all changed several years later when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was filled with joy and strength that I knew came from God. In the natural, I should have felt depressed. However, as I looked back at the depressions and manias of the bipolar disorder, I realized that God had strengthened me by His presence. When the cancer came, I was not set off guard. God helped me to realize that He can bring good out of anything, including the bipolar disorder. I thanked God for filling me with His joy instead of depression.
“Why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5, NIV).
WHAT’S IN A WORD?
Depression is “low spirits; gloominess; dejection; sadness” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary). It is “a state of feeling sad; dejection” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).
Joy is “a very glad feeling…great pleasure; delight” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary). It is “gaiety…delight” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). “Joy is associated with life…experiences of sorrow prepare for, and enlarge, the capacity for joy” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).
We all have times when we feel depressed. It may be an unexpected diagnosis such as cancer. It can be a particularly stressful situation. It may feel as if we have lost hope. The good news is that God is there to meet us and help us in our time of need.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NIV).
Read Psalm 23:4. What was David walking through?
What will he not fear?
Why is this so?
What comforted David?
We all have dark valleys of trials. These trials can overwhelm us. We can reach out to God for comfort and strength to help us in our time of need.
“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6, NIV).
Read 2 Corinthians 7:6. Who does God comfort?
How did God comfort Paul?
God may send people in our lives to comfort and strengthen us when we are facing difficult trials. I know this was the case when I was diagnosed with cancer. Friends from across the country as well as my own church prayed for me and comforted me during this time. I was strengthened and felt uplifted from the depression and experienced joy.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11, NIV).
Read Psalm 16:11. What did God make known to David?
What did God fill David with?
Where did God fill David with joy?
What did God fill David at His right hand?
God fills us with joy when we spend time in His presence on a daily basis. God desires for us to take the time each day to seek God. This will fill us with joy in His presence.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, NIV).
Read Proverbs 17:22. What is good medicine?
What dries up the bones?
As I was experiencing the early stages of the bipolar disorder diagnosis, I was crushed in spirit. However, God was right there for me when I cried out to Him. I now look back on this time and thank God for bringing good out of it. I now reap the benefits of joy and peace in my current diagnosis of cancer.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, NIV).
Read Romans 12:12. What are we to be joyful in?
What are we to be patient in?
What are we to be faithful in?
When we have hope in Christ, we experience joy. We can praise God for His presence during times of trials. We can be filled with joy and peace instead of sorrow and depression.
YOUR HEART’S DESIRE
Depression can arise when we least expect it. It showed up for me just yesterday when it was a cloudy day and I could not get out. However, I cried out to God for help and He filled me with a song which proclaimed that the joy of the Lord is my strength. The depression lifted and I praised God for His strength.
Name a time when you felt downcast.
How did you react?
How did you reach out to God?
What Scripture spoke to you during this time?
How were you filled with joy?
The joy of the Lord is indeed our strength. We can praise God for being there for us when we cry out to Him. God will then replace our low spirits with His joy.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being there for me when I feel down. I ask You to fill me with Your joy unspeakable each and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
NUGGETS OF WISDOM
Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual. C.H. Spurgeon
When you come to the bottom, you find God. Neville Talbot
No matter how low you feel, if you count your blessings, you’ll always show a profit. Author unknown
Christ is not only a remedy for your weariness and trouble, but he will give you an abundance of the contrary, joy and delight. Jonathan Edwards
Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved. Henri Nouwen