Grateful for Depression
While struggling in the pit of depression, my counsellour gave me homework. It was initially to help change some negative patterns of thinking that I was stuck in, but I have found it to be invaluable advice in my personal life and my family life. It has changed the way our family functions at the basic level. The advice is simple.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thess. 5:18
Have personal devotions twice per day. Yes. Twice. For just 5 minutes. I don’t mean read a chapter of the Bible and study it and then get out the commentaries. I mean get before the Lord and pray on your knees. What I was told to do was in the morning give thanks for 5 general things. In the evening before bed give thanks for 5 things specific to that day. The kicker for the morning prayer, was that I had to come up with new things everyday day.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! ~ Psalm 107:1
Easy peasy… Or so I thought.
Evening devotions were enlightening, finding 5 specific things to pray about when you are depressed is difficult, but it helped me focus on my family and the blessings in my life. With morning devotions I started out by giving thanks for my wife and kids and house and food and salvation etc. Now, with all the usual things given thanks for, I had to look deeper to find different blessings to thank God for. At first I was stumped, but it has gotten easier to think outside the box.
giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ~Ephesians 5:20
Everything. Give thanks for everything! Instead of simply the food we eat, give thanks for the truck driver who brought the chicken from the farm to the processing plant. Give thanks for the janitor who had to clean the store after it closed. I am thanking the Lord for the underwear that lasted me well over 5 years….I am thanking the Lord for the things I take for granted, like clean water. Laminate flooring. The fact my car only burned 1 litre of oil last week. That the last diaper I changed was able to hold that much poop. I was thankful that the poop stains came out of my shirt sleeve…give thanks for the people in the church who do little things. Look around and pick something to give thanks about. Everything.
This may seem silly, I mean, who thanks God for shoe polish, a radio in his car, or …? But what I noticed, is that taking time to consider what to thank God for, really considering the blessings in your life, particularly the treasure we have in Christ Jesus, that he loved us when we were unlovable, but even the little things, completely changes you.
Try it for a month. Write down what you are giving thanks for. Then go back and read through your journal. You will see that you gave thanks for 5 new things everyday, and after a month that is about 150 things. There are some things I have thanked him for over and over again, and with family devotions we always thank him for food and love and salvation and the like. The thing I did not expect is that I have even come to thank God for granting that I should suffer from depression. Through it, he has shown me his mercies, through it he has brought me low to show me his power to lift high. Through it he has given me a new perspective on His grace. Grateful for everything, even depression.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! ~ Psalm 118:28-29