When a powerful enemy like depression threatens your peace, you need a mighty powerful defender. The best one I’ve found to fit that bill is Jesus.
The number of views and comments I received from last week’s post confirms the widespread prevalence of depression. If you are suffering right now, I am so, so sorry. I truly hope you benefit in some small way by what you are about to read.
This community of friends you’ve helped create here at Perfection Road blesses my heart. I’m praying it blesses yours. I wish I could find words powerful enough to express my thanks for all the love and encouragement you’ve sent my way since Saturday. Thank you for loving me the way you do! If you’ve not read Part 1 from last week please click here to get a better feel for today’s thoughts.
What does Jesus look like to you? What color is His hair? Is it long or short? Is He tall and thin or broad and muscular? What kind of clothes does He wear? Does He wear a soft gentle smile or a big wide grin? And what about His eyes? Are they smiling or penetrating? Are they brown, green, hazel, or blue?
If you don’t have a clear picture of Jesus firmly set in your mind EVERY SINGLE TIME you hear His name or read about Him in Scripture, I want to encourage you to close your eyes right now and create one. (Be especially sure to get those eyes just like you need them to be!) This image will help you experience His loving presence in a more personal and tangible way.
Being able to visualize Jesus in my past’s most hurtful moments recently reassured me that I have never been alone. Indeed, Jesus has always and will continue to be with us whether we feel His presence or not. However, many of us spin through life in such a fizz that we don’t slow down long enough to let Him minister to us. Mentally picturing Him loving me, encouraging me, protecting me, and cheering me on in those difficult situations didn’t change what happened, but it did change my perspective and how I now view each of those times. As I pictured Him there with me, He always spoke. I believe the words I heard Him say were actually whispered to my heart by the Holy Spirit. If that sounds weird to you, well … that’s okay. Please keep reading.
After depression came calling last week, I’m sad to say that I listened once again too intently to the lies of Satan. I heard him reminding me of all my insecurities, mistakes, and fears. Since my husband and friends did an amazing job of reminding me of who I am in Jesus, I decided to employ the same strategy I’d used in those past hurtful moments with my current overwhelming sense of defeat. After all, I am not the same person I was the last time this happened. My free and revived spirit longed to practice some freshly inspired strategies. As the depression caused me to withdraw, I brought Jesus into my world – the Jesus I had mentally pictured so vividly. He simply held me for a very long time. After a day or two, I locked eyes with His and asked Him to speak. His Holy Spirit brought me comfort and encouragement, but Jesus spoke no words this time.
In the meantime, my church family began a bi-annual event called 21 Days of Prayer. Twice a year, for 21 days we meet all across the state, either in person or online, at 6 am for a time of worship, a brief message, and lots of prayer. Last Monday, the 2nd day of the 21 days, I got up early and read my daily Bible reading hoping Jesus might have a word for me there, but these were not the words I needed for such a time as this. As I opened my laptop to connect to the service, I prayed again, “Jesus, please give me some words to go with your presence. I need to hear you, and I’m ready to listen!” After the worship music soothed my heart, Mark Pettus, president of Highlands College, stepped up to the mic with a message from Daniel, chapter 10. That’s when my spirit heard these words, “Donna, put your name in place of Daniel’s name.” I opened my Bible and followed along as Mark began reading:
10 Suddenly, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees. 11 He said to me, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling.
Treasured by God. I liked the sound of that.
12 “Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.
My eyes flew open as I read those words again. Was Jesus ready to answer my prayer and speak now? I eagerly read on.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia.14 Now I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days, for the vision refers to those days.”
Did he just say 21 days?
15 While he was saying these words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and was speechless.16 Suddenly one with human likeness touched my lips. I opened my mouth and said to the one standing in front of me, “My lord, because of the vision, anguish overwhelms me and I am powerless.
That last phrase summoned tears from the deep. They described my condition perfectly. I believe God was letting me know He knew and understood exactly how I felt. Now, I couldn’t read fast enough!
17 How can someone like me, your servant, speak with someone like you, my lord? Now I have no strength, and there is no breath in me.”
Tears welled up and spilled out quickly as I read those last two sentences. They still do. I suddenly realized I had been secretly asking myself that same question. How could someone like me actually sit and talk with the Creator of the universe; much less write a meaningful book, or work alongside other ladies so certain of their purpose, or accomplish tasks that stretched me so thin? A covert, emotional nerve surrounding my heart had been rubbed raw by the excessive pounding of my heart. Truly, my strength had frayed, and my breath had ridden away on the tops of my tears.
18 Then the one with a human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. 19 He said, “Don’t be afraid, you who are treasured by God. Peace to you; be very strong!”
As he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (Daniel 10:10-19, CSB, emphasis mine)
I closed my wet eyes, caught my breath, and immediately pictured Jesus standing in front of me wearing that big wide smile of His. I’m convinced He was really there, just like He is with you now. Oh, sweet friend, please make time to rest in His presence before you rush off to that next thing you’re about to do.
I hate depression, but I’m thankful it’s teaching me to lean on Jesus by allowing His presence to provide the comfort, hope, and courage I need to meet every situation. It thrills my soul to know I can meet with Him at any time, and He will never be too busy, too disinterested, or too tired. My time with Him is His delight.
If you know all too well how depression feels, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help from a Christian counselor or physician. But, by all means, get to know Jesus a little better. No matter how well you know Him, there is always more to learn. Read about Him in the Scriptures every chance you get. Picture Him in your mind, tell Him how you feel, and let Him hold you close. Then, when He knows you’re ready to listen, He WILL speak. Treasure every second and every word, and let the healing begin. Satan becomes totally disarmed in the presence of Jesus!
May the love of God, the grace of Jesus, and the friendship of the Holy Spirit be with each of us. Happy Tuesday!