In some ways it’s the “black hole of the soul.”


Depression.


For many years I battled this malady of mind and souls, along with mood swings, panic attacks and even suicidal thoughts. But, thankfully, during our first four years overseas as missionaries in the Philippines, the Lord delivered me, for which I am thankful.


There was no magical moment, silver bullet or miracle pill; however, there was God’s Faithfulness and sufficient Grace that combined to finally bring healing to my heart, mind and emotions.


Through the years I’ve reflected on those dark years…the fears…the guilt and shame I felt as a Christian pastor and military chaplain for having the above-mentioned symptoms… trying to understand why I had them to begin with…and how I was finally freed from them.


And, again, there was no instantaneous moment in time or pill that caused it; neither was there a counselor or book that set me free.


It was the Lord Jesus—the “Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)—Who finally helped me to learn to rest in Him and His Love for me.


There’s no doubt that my childhood years contributed to my depression. Being abandoned by your parents and then raised in an abusive, dysfunctional home certainly do a number on your mind and emotions. And, even though I knew God loved me and had a Plan for my life, I was still bound by those inward “demons” that tormented me:


Feelings of guilt and shame of not being “good enough.” Feelings that I was somehow to blame for my parents’ breakup. Feelings that I had to earn others’ love so they would accept me (including God).


So, I became an overachiever. An entertainer. A perfectionist. Always trying to please and appease, longing for applause and approval—which were never enough. And, I finally realized they never would be because our inward “acceptance” and peace-of-mind never come from an outside source.


They come from the Heavenly Father, Who formed us in our mother’s womb and loves us more than we can ever know (Psalm 139:14-18; John 14:27).


Thus, through the years of struggling with all those inward tormentors, I continued crying out to God to help me. I talked to various counselors, hoping they could help me be rid of them. And, sadly, I tried to hide them from others since I was a pastor/chaplain, afraid of what others would think if they knew I didn’t “have it all together.”


But, thankfully, the Lord continued to sustain me by His Grace. Thankfully, He continued healing my mind and emotions so I could finally rest in the fact that I’m “accepted/ made acceptable in the Beloved/Jesus” (Ephesians 1:6). Or, to put it another way as someone once did, “That there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more—or less. He simply loves us just as we are—warts and all. Period.” Hallelujah!!


Dear Reader, if you suffer with depression like I did, I hope my testimony will encourage you. Without a doubt, the three most important words in the Bible are “God is faithful” (I Corinthians 10:13). And, He loves you very, very much.


Therefore, it’s my prayer that you, too, will finally “let go and let God” by “casting all your cares/burdens/anxieties upon Him—for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). Start spending time alone with Him by reading the Bible and praying. Personalize Scriptures like Psalms 40, 42, 73, 107, etc., visualizing yourself in those passages and how you can also be set free.


Depression is a horrible, dark, lonesome pit filled with feelings of grief, guilt, shame, regrets, anger, bitterness, etc., where you feel forgotten and forsaken, even by God. But, always remember those are lies of the devil, which enslave you.


Look to Jesus instead. Rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30). And, fill your mind and mouth with praise and thanksgiving for Who He is and what He has done/is doing.


You can be free. I’m praying you will be. God bless you.


NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com.