Feeling Hopeless? Try Eating.
Anonymous asks, “I feel hopeless. What can I do?”
I have suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder my entire adult life. It usually kicks in around now, it has not this year and I thank God for that. I have also gone through very dark times in my life. I have been depressed. So I know what you mean when you say things feel hopeless.
Lately, I have been focusing on my physical health. I have been exercising and eating right, trying to get healthy again. So I have these physical analogies stuck in my head…so I am going to go with them. When I am physically hungry what is it that I do?
If I want to actually nourish my body, I have to avoid junk food, and consume leafy greens, legumes, fruits, veggies, nuts, lean protein – healthy food. Without healthy foods, I will not have much energy. If I only eat junk, I will get fat, lethargic, and I will run out of energy. If I don’t have any energy, I will stumble, fall, get hurt…sleepy, and eventually I will die.
Ok. So when I am physically hungry I eat. What should I do when I am spiritually hungry?
Well, I should eat! Right?
But when things start to seem hopeless what do we so often do? Often we tend to reach for the spiritual equivalent of McDonalds or a bag of chips. Some of us drink. Some of us get absorbed in TV or watching sports. Others use porn. Some party. Others gamble. Others find random sexual partners. We are even addicted to video games, iphones, facebook, and other instantly gratifying things. We tend to feed on spiritual junk food and we grow hungrier and hungrier for spiritual nourishment… but we ignore the hunger pangs and we keep feeding on the junk…
And our spiritual energy wanes…
Spiritual lethargy takes over…
Our outlook grows dark…
Hopelessness sets in…
And we all need hope. When we are hopeful we don’t want to waste our lives; but when we are hopeless we just don’t care.
When we have hope, we take challenges head on, and we see adversity as something to be overcome; but when we are hopeless we start feeling discouraged, unmotivated, and desperate.
When we are hopeful the world is joyful, light, happy; but when we are hopeless the world becomes a dark and stormy and fearful place. We just want to stay in bed, curled up in our PJ’s and comforters and ignore the world. Hopelessness robs us of our healthy desires and motivation. The things we used to find pleasure in we don’t anymore. Psalm 88 becomes our mantra.
Hope is the energy that we get from eating spiritually nourishing food. If hope is our spiritual energy, what is the nourishment? Is it faith? Love? Devotions? Prayer? What is it?
Let’s look at psalm 43:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
The psalmist is cast down, his soul is in turmoil. And what does he say is the cure?
Hope is. Hope in God.
We all know that! But HOW do we DO it? How can I hope in God when my soul is in turmoil? We have already figured out that we need hope. If we are hopeless, how do we get hope? When we are physically hungry we need nourishment, not junk. So what is the spiritual nourishment we need?
The promises of God. Stick them in a blender. Make a smoothie. Drink it up. Every day.
God’s promises are what he pledges to be for us, do for us, and provide for us. Feed on His promises. Open the Bible, it is a spiritual pantry full of the nourishing promises of God. Here eat this:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. ~ Psalm 34:17-20
**I want to clarify that I am not qualified to give advice in the realm of clinical depression. I have dealt with it on a small scale in my own life, but am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. If you are depressed and no amount of prayer or devotion is helping to alleviate the spiritual turmoil that you are facing, please talk to your pastor about it. If you are struggling with clinical depression don’t just read about it online, please seek professional help.**