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Overcoming Depression


Polymer Clay relief sculpture of s woman seated in prayer.
Refiner's Fire, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph. Patiently enduring being purified by the Refiner's Fire.

I'll be the first to admit that suggesting tips on overcoming depression is best left to experts. I don't claim to be one, neither have I experienced lasting bouts of depression. However, I have, on occasion, felt bitter pangs of discouragement.


My boldness in tackling this subject is because I know Jesus, who is more than an expert!


If my words lead you to Him, His help is more than sufficient.


Christians readily share their understanding of God's Word and testify often to His goodness. We find encouragement in knowing that if He helped once, He will surely do it again—if for me, then also for you! He does not play favorites. You are just as precious in His sight as I am!


Perhaps life feels like an unbroken cycle of disappointment with no escape in sight. It could be financial worries, a deadly medical diagnosis, a broken relationship… Life can be brutal. Under such circumstances, how could anyone ever feel anything but abject despair? To suggest that there is a way out would seem unthinkably cruel, when you'd rather have a shoulder to cry on. I remember times of deep disappointment when the hope of experiencing joy again seemed so remote. Only Jesus can help in such darkness.


He'll help you recognize that the pain of depression is a greater cruelty than your trials—no matter how desperate they appear to you!


May what I've learned also help you, because it is built on God's word and it has worked for me!


Acknowledge that Jesus has already redeemed you from depression, winning that victory at the cross. That idea may seem fake to your senses in the midst of your despair. But feelings lie!

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit available for every believer—and you are no exception!


Jesus came to give me abundant life! If vibrant, joyous life was not my experience, then I knew I was missing something. Like all things spiritual, I discovered that it was a matter of perception.

 

To perceive is defined as "to notice, understand or comprehend using the senses, primarily the sense of sight." The ability to perceive is vital to every artist.

 

As artists, we struggle to translate our 3D world onto 2D surfaces. To be successful, it is imperative that we see differently. Visual tools, like foreshortening, clever perspective, colors that advance or recede, skillful manipulating of object sizes... are cleverly employed so that others SEE our art precisely as we want them to perceive it.


But how does this relate to overcoming depression?


Training yourself to perceive life's trials correctly is the answer to overcoming depression.


I learned that my perception of sad, desperate, or overwhelming circumstances, is never a final, unchangeable reality.


Like a two-dimensional landscape hanging in a museum, I'm offered only a partial glimpse into the world of the artist. No matter how expertly executed, no painting can convey the feel of the wind, the sounds of birds, the murmuring of the brook nearby, or warmth of the sun on the artist's cheeks.


Overcoming depression becomes possible when you realize that there are two realities at play at the same time!


To deny my current misery was not the solution, because my mind would always rebel against the truth of its existence. Instead, I was to acknowledge that there was a hierarchy to the two realities that faced me—and they were not twins of equal power.


There is a higher reality and a lesser one—the spiritual and the natural.


The painted landscape, no matter how skilled, would pale in comparison to the reality experienced by the viewer if he, or she, could step out of the frame into the living scene portrayed!


Similarly there's always a higher reality to every crisis that threatens. When my senses perceive only discouraging circumstances, I remain blinded to a higher, more powerful reality.


The same circumstances infused with the presence of God is a radically different reality.


I need His help to remove my blindness.


Already familiar with this form of blindness, He graciously provided help.

  • "The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down..." Psalm 146:8

  • "And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness." Isaiah 29:18

  • "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." Isaiah 35:5

  • "And I will bring the blind by a way [that] they knew not; I will lead them in paths [that] they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

  • "Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see." Isaiah 42:18

  • "To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." Isaiah 42:7

To overcome depression, pursue a change of perception to see from darkness to the light.


No matter how long you've dwelt in a land of hopelessness, Jesus can be trusted to turn that blackness into light. But it does require something from you, as it did from me. I had to choose to spend time with Him. Since Jesus IS the Word, spending time with Him is really spending time reading the Bible. Pause often to ask for understanding and wisdom to apply it to your circumstance.


While depressed, our mind chews continually on our crisis, rehashing the hopelessness of it over and over again, the enormity of the problem….


Instead, now read His Word to you and think deeply on that—dwell there, rehearse His promises, imagine them coming true for you. The more I linger on His promises, the more hopeful I felt.


HELPFUL PRAYER:

"Thank you Lord, for bringing me, blind as I am, by a way [that] I know not; Thank you Lord for leading me in paths [that] I have not known: Thank you for making darkness light before me, and crooked things straight. Thank you for doing these things unto me, and not forsaking me." Isiah 42:16

"I hear you, Lord, though I was deaf; and I look and see, Lord, though I was blind, thank you for letting me see." Isaiah 42:18


You don’t have to know how He is going to work—you just need to trust that He will.

If you find your mind returning to darkness, speak your thanksgiving again with another promise; the Bible has so many of them! This may sound simplistic, but it is backed by the dynamic power of a limitless God, who honors His immutable WORD.


If you still find yourself overwhelmed, perhaps, like me, you simply quit too soon. Or if I was brutally honest, I'd have to admit to only applying myself halfheartedly to the task of changing my perception!


That would be like a beginning artist complaining to a veteran, that it was impossible to make a two-dimensional surface appear to have depth. We know better!


If you practice speaking His word, in faith, just as diligently as you hone your artistic skills, thanking Him for liberty, you too will walk free of depression! Your circumstances will also change—sometimes gradually, or sometimes miraculously.


"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11


Art can be a useful tool to explore the ambiguity of a troubling season in life. Biblical Art Therapy is a course that explores the concept of twin realities further using art.

Acrylic painting detail showing a woman being divinely refreshed by Sara Joseph
Times of Refreshing, Detail, Acrylic on Canvas, Sara Joseph

Neither Refiner's Fire nor Times of Refreshing captures the flood of joy I've experienced when Jesus proved His faithfulness!


Art is powerful to explore the abstract nature of emotions. It can absorb you with productive action as you make your journey out of depression. The fullness of His joy is worth the journey.


If you can SEE your trial as a temporary battle already won by Jesus, then you are on your way to enjoying victory.

 

Black

I felt alone and all but forgotten

A victim of naught I had begotten


Misunderstood, beaten and lacking a friend

Forlorn season without glimpse of an end

In bleak darkness I struggled for sight

If I only knew how, I’d put up a fight


Blinded, I swallowed the bile of despair

My cries echoed thinly in thick black air

Impenetrable black quelled not a Voice

Softly it told me that I had a choice


“In darkness when blinded follow my Word

Obey my voice, act on all that you’ve heard”


Oh, look at how overpowering the odds

Speak the strong word, since you are my Lord

This awful, dense darkness is here to stay

I’ve not the clout to chase it away


Spoke the Voice, now firmer still

“You have the power, t’was bought on the hill

I took your darkness and your black despair

Breathing my last in the sin-soaked air


Swirled around me every foul foe

Demons of despair, sickness and more

Wave upon wave of despicable vice

Polluted my flesh and exacted a price


Overcome your trouble, no matter how bleak

My Words of triumph, you must boldly speak

Darkness will flee as you resist despair

Earnestly expect a change in the air.”


Heart scrambled with fear, I did as he bid

Feeble within, yet with mouth intrepid

A pinprick of light flooded the gloom

Black took to flight as hope filled the room


Long I lingered His words to ponder

When spoken in faith with power they thunder

No debt of despair, I’m in the black

He paid it in full, I’m heir to no lack

© Sara Joseph



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