Jun 16, 2017 by Will Maule

Four Ways Christians Can Deal With Crippling Despair

Everyone has experienced sadness at some point in their life. But what about when it becomes overwhelming? What are Christians to do when the cloud of despair will not lift? Depression is a serious thing, and affects millions around the globe. Whilst there are rarely 'one-size-fits-all' fixes, there are certain things Christians can choose to do in these seasons of sadness. Gavin Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition gives us four key tips. 

1. Run to the Psalms.
"The Psalms are precious friends to sufferers. They show us that the Bible has categories for our emotions; we haven’t fallen off the radar screen. In fact, some portions of Scripture were themselves occasioned by feelings of deep grief (psalms of lament, Lamentations, and so on). Moreover, the Psalms teach us to connect the dots between our emotions and our theology. They help us to not simply listen to our feelings, but also to talk back with truth."

2. Acknowledge your sadness to the Lord.
"I preached recently on Psalm 23. I talked a lot about my favorite little line in there: I shall not lack. It’s a beautiful expression of knowing God as shepherd—having our deepest needs fully met in him. I’ve also found strange comfort in admitting my frequent distance from David’s experience. To be able to plainly acknowledge, “I lack”—there’s a kind of refuge in those words, a refuge distinct from the actual meeting of the need. Hanging in that space of honesty and vulnerability provides an open channel to richer intimacy with God."

3. Find a friend.
"Some Christians can unhelpfully aggravate times of suffering through glib advice. But a friend—a true friend—can also help get you through (Prov. 17:17). Comfort is a legitimate part of Christian relationship. Comfort amid affliction is one of the blessings of the gospel—and this comfort doesn’t only descend vertically from Christ, but also spreads horizontally through Christians (2 Cor. 1:4–7). Paul also speaks of being refreshed by other Christians (Rom. 15:32; 1 Cor. 16:18; 2 Cor. 7:13; 2 Tim. 1:16)."

4. Meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus.
"The cross is precious to me for so many reasons, but one of them is it takes the shame out of suffering. Even the all-holy Son of God sank down into the darkness, and couldn’t rise. He received taunts and blows, yet didn’t scramble to vindicate himself. He was accused, betrayed, and forsaken by everyone. The darkness did not yield. His suffering not only cancels our guilt, it also shines a light on our path when we walk in the darkness. It reminds us: Even Jesus has been here! And he defeated it."

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