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Forgiveness: By Grace “Changes our Mind”

If we are to enter God’s rest by experiencing the fullness of Christ’s resurrection power in our lives, we will need to consider whether there are still judgments against others dwelling in our hearts. Obviously, when we received our salvation, we were not required by God, to list, individually, every person who had ever hurt or offended us and then repent of our anger, resentment and bitter root judgments toward each person (Heb. 12:15). But, if we are to mature in Christ through His grace as we continue on in our Christian walk, we must be willing to release these people from our judgments (Matt. 6:12-15).

      We were justified by the sacrifice Christ made on the cross on our behalf so that, through salvation, we might enjoy the fullness of the benefits of sonship with him. These benefits were made available to us through our repentance and God’s forgiveness of our sins. Yet, scripture clearly indicates that if we are to continue as recipients of God’s good favor, we must resolutely adopt an ongoing attitude of forgiveness toward others (Matt. 7:1-2; Luke 17:3-4). Most Christians understand the importance of this basic principle. It is a staple of Christian teaching.

    But there is another, very important aspect of forgiveness that is often overlooked – Our personal repentance for the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have developed in our lives in reaction to the original offenses against us.

How Reactive Judgments can Keep Us in Bondage

    Much of how we think, feel, and act today is derived from our past reactions to both the positive and negative influences in our lives.  Inevitably, ungodly behaviors develop from some of these reactions. For example, if we suffer rejection and hurt, we may form a negative judgment about the one that has rejected us. To hurt feels like weakness; to hate feels like strength. So, in our attempt to alleviate the pain we feel from rejection, instead of reacting with forgiveness, we begin to develop critical, judgmental thinking toward others  (Heb. 12:15; Gen. 4:5-8). From this position of blaming, we often come to believe that we must develop and rely on protective mechanisms of behavior in order to “survive” emotionally. For example, we may become shy and withdrawn, or perhaps bold, manipulative and aggressive.

    Whenever we do not choose the option of forgiveness toward those who have offended us, we are fostering the development of self-reliant attitudes deep within the heart. Rejecting the avenue of forgiveness, we learn to rely on our own efforts to overcome the personal offenses we experience and become well-practiced at trying to maintain control in our personal relationships in order to feel emotionally safe.

    Sometimes, in trying to achieve this control, we develop an acute sensitivity regarding what we perceive to be the thoughts or feelings of others. We come to rely on these hypersensitive perceptions, as distorted as they may be, in order to circumvent conflict in relationships and avoid the anguish of further rejection.

From an unforgiving heart, we will often pursue an emotional compensation for past rejection, placing unrealistic demands and expectations on others and even on ourselves. Of course, by placing this unattainable burden of performance on the people in our lives and on ourselves, we are actually setting ourselves up for further disappointment and rejection. Truly, what we have sown in past judgments to accommodate the sinful nature, we will reap through unhealthy, destructive patterns of behavior in present day relationships (Gal. 6:7-8).

    Over a period of time, we grow to depend on these behavioral mechanisms and they become a fixed system that we regularly use and trust. It becomes daily, monthly, yearly, increasingly difficult to believe there is a better way (Prov. 14:12). Even if we begin to intellectually understand the reality and complexity of our dysfunction that prevents us from healthy relationship with others, we often find that we cannot, of our own power, free ourselves from the sinful inclinations of our souls. Thankfully, our Father God does not expect us to gain freedom from the multitudinous layers of dysfunction that have developed within our souls, by relying entirely upon our own efforts.

    It is, instead, the recognition of our inability to effectively disengage from the judgmental patterns of the old nature and the protective behavioral mechanisms we have constructed in opposition to healthy intimacy with man and God, which brings the opportunity for real change by the power of God! This change occurs through our belief in and surrender to the process of repentance and sanctification, which are both ongoing works of the Holy Spirit within us (Rom. 2:28-29; 8:1-11; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24).

In the article Overcoming Foundational Root Judgments a working model is given for overcoming the specific root judgments that have formed in our lives and the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we have developed in reaction to personal offenses from our past. But before we can use the working model effectively, it will be necessary to clear up some of the common confusion surrounding repentance and sanctification.

Grace for Repentance is a Divine Gift that God Wants to Give


    Unfortunately, as a result of our predisposition toward a works-oriented, performance-bound mentality, we often misinterpret what is needed for the process of personal repentance and sanctification to occur. Our tendency is to try to work out our repentance and sanctification by depending primarily on our own efforts and understanding, instead of believing, trusting, and asking God to do this supernatural work within us, according to His understanding (Gal. 3:3-5).

Sometimes, in shame and exasperation, we erroneously believe that God has not freed us from our repetitive sin patterns because we have not felt bad enough about our sin, or we have not tried hard enough by our own efforts to become free (Eph.2:8-9). We often believe that if we could just feel ashamed enough about our sin, God would respond by empowering us to overcome the sin (Rom. 8:1; 10:11).

    But shame cannot purchase grace. Faith is the tool we must use to apprehend the power of God’s grace. Faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross and faith in Jesus’ resurrection power through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to bring freedom to our souls. Ordinarily, we fail to comprehend this truth, because we have “fallen away from grace” through a persistent attitude of worldly self-reliance that has infiltrated our religious beliefs (Gal. 5:1-5).

    We must make every effort possible to avoid the e

ntanglements of sin in our lives, but we must also realize that we can never, solely by the efforts of our fleshly wills, come to full repentance. William Evans, in The Great Doctrines of the Bible states, “Repentance is not something which one can originate within himself, or can pump up within himself as one would pump water out of a well. It is a divine gift. How then is man responsible for not having it? We are called upon to repent in order that we may feel our own inability to do so, and consequently be thrown upon God to perform this work of grace in our hearts.”  
( Italics mine).

Relying on the Holy Spirit

    When we invite God to perform a work of grace unto repentance in our hearts, we will begin to experience a heartfelt sorrow over our sins. We will desire to turn away from the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we have developed in reaction to personal offenses from our past.

    But the next step on the journey to complete repentance, the one that we most commonly stumble over, is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, which occurs between our sorrow and our new godly behavior. The Holy Spirit, by the grace available to us through Christ Jesus, has the power to literally separate us from the ways of the old nature, which compelled us toward ungodly behavior in the past. 

       As Evans says: “The Holy Spirit seals, attests, and confirms the work of grace in the soul by producing the fruits of righteousness therein. It is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who gives us free-dom from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). He is called the Holy Spirit, not only because He is absolutely holy Himself, but also because He produces that quality of soul character in the believer. The Spirit is the executive of the God-head for this very purpose. It is the Spirit’s work to war against the lusts of the flesh and enable us to bring forth fruit unto holiness.”  8  (Italics mine)

    If we do not actively believe in the Holy Spirit to do this work within us, we are missing out on the incredible power of grace that is available to us through our faith relationship with Christ. It is an important part of the foundation of both our salvation and ongoing sanctification. As scripture reveals,
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”
                                                                                         -Heb. 4:16

We Rest in His Finished Work

    When we repent of the sinful attitudes and behaviors that have developed in our lives, Christ’s finished work on the cross is made available to us by the active work of the Holy Spirit within us, in response to our dependence upon Him to do a sanctifying work of inner transformation. This is known as resting in the finished work of Christ. (Heb. 3:16-19; 4:8-11; John 19:30). Rest is rest! Transformation by our own efforts is not transformation at all. It is unbelief – trusting in self more than we trust in God. (See Heb. 4:11, 3:18-19; Isa. 30:1-15).

    The supernatural power for the transformation of our souls is not found in our own efforts and works. It is a work of the Holy Spirit:

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
                                                                                      -2 Cor 3:17,18

The Influence of Our Old Nature Rebels  Against Believing God


    Mankind’s complex performance-bound mentalities derived from the old nature, rebel against the simplicity of grace (Gal. 3:1-5 and 5:1-5). Believing on God to do for us supernaturally, what we cannot do for ourselves, is both humbling and seemingly too simplistic!

    We struggle with the concept of rest, because resting in the finished work of Christ demands an unconditional surrendering of our complex prideful self-determinations, which we have depended on throughout our lifetime.

    But that which we are unwilling to surrender will inevitably lead to a testing of the quality of our works, in which all that we have done through our own self-directed efforts will be burned up:
“his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames”
                                                                                             -1 Cor. 3:13-15

God Will Remove the Bitter Roots

    True freedom from the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have developed in our lives is accomplished by asking and believing on God to circumcise our heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, (“…and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” Rom. 2:29) removing bitter roots (strongholds of judgment toward self and oth-ers) (Heb. 12:15), and severin

g the ungodly weeds (behavior and belief systems) which have grown up from these bitter roots. As God does this sanctifying work in us, we will then be able to experience the life of Christ in those previously dark, unforgiving, unrepentant areas of our heart.

     Apart from this reliance on the power of God we will find ourselves wandering through a spiritual desert, searching for rest, frustrated by our inability to gain freedom from our ungodly behavior patterns.
    When we finally surrender to the truth and invite the Holy Spirit to do this work of grace in our hearts, we will begin to experience the peace and joy, confidence, assurance, and fullness of life, which always result from an act of faith in the finished work of Christ.

Look again at Jesus’ words,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
                                                                                         -Matthew 11:28-30

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD

                                        (2463)

theodoreawadjr@comcast.net
http://yacrisishotline.tripod.com/
http://youngadultcrisishotline.blogspot.com/
youngadultcrisishotline@comcast.net

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Family Intervention: Addiction and Life Controlling Issues

intervention-1

An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one, or often many, people (usually concerned family and friends) and an interventionists to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some other life controlling problem.

People sometimes engage in self-destructive behavior, rejecting any assistance others may offer. Intervention, when done correctly, is extremely effective in helping these people accept help.

Long used for substance abuse (alcohol abuse, drug abuse) and addiction (alcoholism, drug addiction), intervention is now also used for compulsive behaviors including gambling, sex addiction, computer addiction, and eating disorders.

The kindest and most loving thing family and friends can do.

Interventions have been used to address serious personal problems, including, but not limited to, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, drug abuse, compulsive eating and other eating disorders, self-mutilation,  "workaholics", and various types of poor personal health care.

Interventions

Interventions are either direct, typically involving a  face-to-face meeting that has challenge to the alcohol, drug dependent person (the most typical type of intervention), or other self-destructive behaviors.

In the same sense, direct interventions tend to be a form of short-term coaching aimed at getting the addicted person into inpatient rehabilitation.

Plans for direct intervention

Plans for a direct intervention are typically made by a concerned group of family and friends,  rather than by the addict. Often the addict will not agree that they need the type of help that is proposed during the intervention, usually thought by those performing the intervention to be a result of denial.  Typically, the addict is surprised by the intervention by friends and family members.

Prior preparation

Prior to the intervention itself, the family meets with a  interventionist. Families prepare speeches in which they share their negative experiences associated with the target’s particular addiction-based lifestyle, to convey to the target the amount of pain his or her addiction has caused others. Also during the intervention rehearsal meeting, each group member is strongly urged to create a list of activities (by the addict or individual with life controlling problems) that they will no longer tolerate, finance, or participate in if the individual doesn’t agree to check into a rehabilitation center for treatment or get intensified counseling for their specific life controlling problem. These usually involve very serious losses to the individual if s/he refuses.

What the person may lose

These items may be as simple as no longer loaning money to the addict, but can be far more alarming. It is common for groups to threaten the individual with permanent rejection (banishment) from the family until treatment is sought. Wives often threaten to leave their husbands during this phase of the intervention, and vice versa. If the individual happens to have any outstanding arrest warrants or other unresolved criminal issues, the threat is usually made that he or she will be turned in to the authorities.

Family and friends present every possible loss that the family can think of to the individual, who then must decide whether to check into the prescribed rehabilitation center and get the prescribed intensified counseling if this an alternative, or deal with the promised losses.

The process of the intervention will have various stages and these are some that I have noted below. I have also noted my personal experience with interventions as a Christian coach and pastor. The experience is extensive and has an extremely high success record. Therefore, I would like to share with you the process and my personal thoughts  behind the process for intervention. This is not a guide written in stone and is flexible because every person is an individual. My interventions are conducted locally and are usually at no cost for my complete participation.  Usually my travel expense, and other expenses are reimbursed if they are needed to travel more than 50 miles. Donations are usually given to our foundation the Young Adult Crisis Hotline for my time, however this is no a condition and not mandatory.

01

Critical Crises often offer particularly good windows of opportunity for motivation and intervention. These usually occur in these stages:

  • Pre-contemplation, in which the individual is not considering change.
  • Contemplation, in which the individual is undecided, weighing the pros and cons of change.
  • Determination or preparation, where the balance tips in favor of change and the individual begins considering options.
  • Action, which involves the individual taking specific steps to accomplish change.

During an successfully conducted intervention, with me as  a Christian Counseling and coach the addict or the  individual with life controlling problems does not feel manipulated, forced, directed, coerced, or advised. Direction is typically accomplished through open-ended questions and selective reflection of past and current behavior rather than through more overtly confrontational strategies and advice giving. This is not like other direct confrontational styles that secular interventionists would rather use in an intervention. I like to personally walk, individuals and their families through a series of what are their future goals and how their current behavior hurts the chances of them attaining their future goals. This is where we weigh out the current state and the future. In interventions that I  participate and conduct, I prefer using encouragement and reinforcement to use the individuals own words, desires, plans, and goals to make a sincere commitment to treatment or long-term intensified counseling. 

The interventions are like this  metaphor, the client and counselor are working a jigsaw puzzle together.

Rather than putting the pieces in place while the client watches like most secular interventionists, the counselor helps to construct the frame, then puts pieces on the table for the client to place. The basic conditions of client-centered pastoral counseling and  coaching  provide a strong foundation, with particular emphasis on the strategies of open-ended questions and reflective listening. Such supportive and motivation-building strategies are employed until resistance abates and the client shows indication of being ready to discuss change.

During interventions I might also show agreement with the client’s points of view which shows empathy and personal care. Then I like to re-frame the initial agreement with the goal of motivating the client to a place of reality and rational thought . The goal is still remains encouragement and reinforcement  instead of  confrontation. This encounter, will slowly  challenge the client  in the sense of bringing the client face to face with a difficult reality and thereby initiating change in their mind about their particular life controlling issues. This encourages a client to have personal responsibility and ownership of their own unwelcome behavior. This therefore with out using a threatening confrontational  approach encourages discussion rather that conflict. We have turned the intense conflict to a place of opportunity which produces unity.   

This final action stage of an intervention begins  of confession/admission of their hopelessness and need for help.  This reveals the individuals sincerity and  begins to remove layers of denial.

The client is in the process to “change their mind” about their behavior, which increases the chances if long-term recovery because repentance was initially involved which produces personal responsibility. This leads to Counseling with Rational expression of God which decreases resistance behaviors and has reframed new meanings of Grace to the individual. Many of these times of God’s Grace takes the form of the counselor giving voice to the client’s behavior to instruct and teach verbalizations of the need for change.

If denial which is a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that  are too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite overwhelming evidence. The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether (simple denial), admit the fact but deny its seriousness (minimization) or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny personal responsibility (Which is transference: characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another). I employ another reoriented approach and have increased family involvement in the intervention.

I essentially have carefully taken notes on the individual’s goals and the puzzle the client has constructed  for us and begin the intervention from the initial stage. The family at this point know that we will enter into weighing consequences for lack of personal responsibility. The family will at this point be the reinforcement mechanism keeping the client as the  central focus of the intervention.

I will begin by explaining essential the part of personal responsibility and action to the client. Then I will encourage the concerned group of family and friends  to begin with their prepared speeches to share their negative experiences associated with the target’s particular addiction-based lifestyle, to convey to the client the amount of pain his or her addiction has caused others. Then I will discuss what promised loss. At this point I will ask for the  prepared lists of promised loss that the concerned group of family and friends  are willing to stand by if the target doesn’t agree to check into a rehabilitation center for treatment or agree to mandatory long-term intensified counseling. These usually involve very serious losses to the addict if s/he refuses.

I re-evaluate the individual and the atmosphere to see which direction the intervention  will proceed toward and ask for feed back from the individual how they will feel when these lists of promised loss are enacted. I again will use motivational methods to show the target how much more they gain instead of lose if the choose personal responsibility and ownership. I will re offer the non-negotiable option to seek inpatient treatment or mandatory long-term intensified counseling.

At this point, have evaluated the target extensively and  learned a lot about the target and have more information to  discern the individual’s the denial factors, their responses or reactions and the authenticity for genuine desire for change.  

discern : rationally recognize mentally and see if can understand the difference responses : usually objective well thought out)

reactions : usually subjective and emotionally driven

This is a vital part of the intervention if we have come to this point because we never want manipulated desire which will never  develop a sincere commitment and genuine repentance.  Without a sincere commitment from the individual real change rarely occurs because they feel  forced to get help and usually never complete the treatment. This is because they have the wrong motivation for going to treatment to begin with.

If the individual remains in denial or refuses to get help at this point I encourage the concerned family and friends to keep their promise of loss and to follow through with them immediately. I then address the individual and encourage them to contact me when they are ready and want to make a sincere decision for treatment.

If the opposite takes place and genuine desire is evident for treatment and the individual is ready after weighing the losses. I encourage action and immediate placement into a program that we have already retained in the preliminary meetings. 

The process of motivational reversal usually does not take place and the loss becomes the eventual encouragement for change of the desire of the individual.  This is because the denial of their self-destructive behaviors runs deep in their sub conscious mind. This is usually is the case in long-term addicted individuals with co-dependent  family members, who  the addict knows lack the backbone for action to fulfill the promised loss. The family members of close friends who will not follow through with their promised losses are only extending their own personal agony and the suffering of their loved who is the target. They have also wasted a lot of vital time that could have been spent with others who need the help that was freely given.

During the next several weeks, I personally will follow through with each individual when ever possible who was at the intervention. I will encourage that the promised losses are followed through and am constantly evaluating  to see when the losses will create the proper sincere motivation for change.

If the intervention was initially successful but the individual however did not follow through with the required treatment options in the time prescribed we will follow through until they do or we enter into another intervention where the promised losses ar

e laid out to the individual. This sometimes occurs because of poor time-management skills and lack of follow through on the part of the client which is a common behavior with the addicted and those with life controlling problems.

Summary of

Intervention Goals:

In an intervention, the goal is for the addict or target to take personal responsibility and make a sincere commitment for action and treatment for their self-destructive habits and behaviors.

An addict or individual with life controlling problems often compares himself to peers and reaches in the conclusion that he is normal. As a result he never realizes that he has lost control. What they need in this condition is honest rational objective feedback that their self-destructive habits and behaviors are dangerous and deadly. A skilled interventionist, with the support of family and friends of the addict or target, can help them to realize the situation through the process of an intervention. The interventionist, who gets an idea of the nature and degree of the addiction through meetings with the addict and family, can make constructive opinions on the addict’s behavior.

Through intervention the addict will understand the limits his concerned friend and family have set and realize the fact that they have a problem. They also will know that because of love they were address by their concerned friends and family. More significantly; they will understand that their concerned friend and family will not continue putting up with their self-destructive habits and behaviors. The beginning of liberation of suffering, for both the addict and the family, is the primary agenda of any Intervention. Changing the self-destructive behavior at the source of suffering is always the focus of an intervention.

The sought after result of the intervention, obviously, is getting the individual with life controlling issues to agree that a problem exists and ask for help. The interventionists, at this time, are required to possess enough knowledge to help with referrals of treatment that would be suitable to that particular person as an individual. No one is the same, everyone does not  fit into a mold and each plan must be specifically tailored to each individual. This is not a “one size fits all” strategy.

Then it is vital to comprehend the variety and efficiency of different treatments so that the recommendation can be individualized.

Advanced and highly effective treatment methods for drug and alcohol addiction are available in a wide range of methods. A number of treatment and recovery program options can be considered for every patient. With a lot of choices, it would be advisable if those intervening on behalf of the abuser agree on the program or method most suited for the addict a preliminary meeting prior to the intervention. The availability of these various treatment centers are always a concern, therefore the selection and eventual placement of an appropriate treatment program a difficult task.

Also, in the preliminarily meeting, after deciding on the treatment intended to be proposed for the addict, is required to contact the chosen facility to see if their is availability. The admittance procedure, financial obligation and mode of treatment must be thoroughly discussed with the family.

This is to determine if there is insurance involved and if cost restraints will also be a consideration of treatment. The cost for inpatient treatment varies considerably for 30 day programs with ranges between $4900 and $13,500. The average cost for a licensed 30 day treatment facility is usually $7,500 to $8,900.

If cost restraints, lack of insurance or no funding is available for treatment from the friends, family members, or their employer it will make it extremely difficult for placement into treatment. It is rare that public beds are available and are usually reserved for those in the various entitlement programs.

Free treatment is rare, however available at several homeless shelters, Christian missions with recovery components, foundation’s adult based recovery programs like the Salvation Army and teen challenge. Remember, the individual usually must be detoxified before admittance is even discussed. Please take this into consideration also in the degree of cost and planning.

Addicts live and die on their chance to recover so this is not a decision to be made on the spur of the moment. Convincing the addict of the effect of the treatment is as important as making him recognize his addiction. Moreover, he can be give valuable opinions while selecting an appropriate treatment program.

Everyone is biologically different and responds to Treatment can be different for each. So, the methods and time of treatment vary from patient to patient as the reaction varies according to the individual stage of addiction. In fact, the roadmap for the treatment program takes shape here.


To get the maximum out of it, intervention needs to be conducted on a sober person that is not intoxicated. More importantly, the one who undergo intervention needs to remain sober throughout the entire process of intervention. In any case, attempting an intervention while a person is on a high or intoxicated will usually not be productive because the addict cannot see many of their problems when in a fog of intoxication.

The broken lives and countless numbers of  young adults are being healed and reconstructed daily by our interventions. We have numerous success stories of Young Adults that have come through the valley and in the end have thanked God for the valley. Today they are helping others and serving God all around the world as missionaries, pastors, youth leaders, and Sunday school teachers

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD

                                                     (2463)

theodoreawadjr@comcast.net
http://yacrisishotline.tripod.com/
http://youngadultcrisishotline.blogspot.com/
youngadultcrisishotline@comcast.net

Depression

depression

What depression is………………

Depression can be called a disease of the emotions. It’s classification as a mental illness does not make it any less real or painful. It is a common disease and at any time, around one in twenty people will be suffering from it.

Depression is a disturbance in mood characterized by varying degrees of sadness, disappointment, loneliness, hopelessness, self-doubt, and guilt. These feelings can be quite intense and last for a long period of time. Daily activities may become more difficult… but the individual may still be able to cope with them. It is at this level, however, that feelings of hopelessness can become so intense that suicide may seem the only solution.

A person experiencing severe depression may experience extreme fluctuations in moods or even a desire for complete withdrawal from daily routine and/or the outside world. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and is not a sign of weakness. It is treatable, whether by medication, by therapy and counseling, or both. God answers prayer, and persistent prayer facilitates the process of emotional healing.

For the depressed Christian whose world has fallen apart, prayer may not seem like an option. In this case, the persistent prayer of close friends or relatives will help.

depression_test What depression is not?

Depression is not "Just in your mind." It isn’t a made-up illness; it isn’t laziness, or a couple of days of feeling sad or blue. It is not rejection by God, or abandonment. If it is from God, as a result of a specific you will know it. You will not be left wondering.

Eight major causes of depression

(1) Biological factors

(2) Learned helplessness (sense of being trapped and unable to remedy an intolerable situation)

(3) Parental rejection

(4) Abuse

(5) Negative thinking

(6) Life stress

(7) Anger

(8) Guilt.

[Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, Josh McDowell’s Handbook on Counseling Youth (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1996), chapter 5; Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, revised edition (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1988).]

Physical Causes:

· Pre-menstrual and postnatal hormone changes

· Some types of manic depression have been shown to have a genetic basis

· Hormone deficiencies (such as thyroid disturbances)

· Generalized illnesses such as kidney or liver disease

· Lack of natural light during winter in some susceptible people

· Alcoholism

· Drug dependency

· Food allergies and strange reactions to medicines, chemicals or food additives.

Mental Causes:
  • Unconscious impulses (from Freudian and Jungian psychology)
  • Learning the wrong way to cope with difficulties
  • Self induced conditioned helplessness (from behaviorist psychology)
  • Overload or stress
Spiritual Causes:
  • Sense of despair/futility of life; death of a loved one.
Symptoms
  • Lethargy (everything seems just too much trouble to do)
  • disturbed sleep (early waking, difficulty getting to sleep)
  • waking up tired after a "normal" night of sleep)
  • lack of concentration
  • irritability
  • exhaustion
  • lack of sexual drive
  • sensation of utter despair
  • sense of hopelessness or uselessness of everything
  • fear of death
  • phobias
  • Obsessive behavior
  • permanent sense of anxiety
  • feelings of wanting to cry, but inability to do so
  • thoughts of suicide, or fear of committing suicide
  • change in appetite and weight
  • other symptoms, this is not a definitive list

depression

Likely effects of depression in Christians

In Christians, spiritual effects follow from the depression, and seldom the other way round. Nearly always the depression comes first, followed by a sense of remoteness from God, rather than depression being the result of "falling away.

Being a Christian does not offer immunity from trials, troubles or illness.

God is making us holy and perfect, and this may involve dealing with your past. It is not an overnight process, and it may be painful. We may have leftover baggage of hurts suffered, wrong attitudes, incorrect information and so on. This can slow us down, and can be a source of depression.

You do not have to feel guilty about being depressed. It is not a sin to doubt what you have been told (this is what everyone does before they become a Christian, and God loved them then too), and the doubting process of can build a strong foundation for you to re-build on later.

We can counsel those depressed with these recommendations:

  1. Avoid being alone. Force yourself to be with people.
  2. Seek help from others.
  3. Sing. Music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23).
  4. Praise and give thanks. "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  5. Lean heavily on the powe

    r of God’s Word.

  6. Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit. "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance" (Psalm 42:5).

Depression has been called the "common cold" of mental disorders.

Depression is too complicated to solve with a single pat answer. Gary Collins, in Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide (Dallas: Word, 1988), lists seven major categories of causes for depression, and six major approaches to treating it. Each one has multiple options within each category. In addition, people use the word "depression" to cover everything from disappointment over losing a baseball game to the terrifying gloom that drives people to suicide.

The Bible does not use the word "depression," although it describes people whom we might call depressed. It certainly doesn’t mention antidepressant drugs. However, there are a few general principles I would recommend when trying to deal with depression:

  • Aim to work on the causes of your depression, not just the symptoms.

Scripture points to many issues of sin or conflict that can affect your emotions; most counselors would agree that depression can result from other underlying issues. Don’t just worry about the depression itself; check to see what other problems need attention.

  •  Realize that you can’t base life on your emotions. They just do not think!

Christians base life on truth, not feelings. Philippians 4:1 commands us to rejoice (whether we feel like it or not!). And James 1:2 asks us to "Consider it all joy when we fall into various trials." Notice that James doesn’t tell us to feel joyful; he tells us to reckon, to choose to think about your situation as a spot where you can have joy.

  • Faith

Choosing to trust truth rather than your feelings may require a lot of faith. And if that is what we mean by asking if faith can solve depression, then faith may be enough in some cases. Trusting what God says rather than your feelings is certainly a more realistic approach to life!

  •  Heed God’s Advice

However, many people talk about "faith" and only mean a vague hope that God will somehow pull them through. That’s too nebulous a concept to be reliable. Many of the same people who claim to have faith keep plunging through life ignoring God’s principles for healthy living. If we spurn the good advice that the Bible contains, we won’t escape the consequences – even if we have faith.

 depressionmedication

Is it right to use antidepressant drugs? Or is faith enough to solve the problem?

Chemical Imbalances

Some cases of depression may be caused by chemical imbalances. If that is the cause, then antidepressant drugs may be the answer. God has allowed mankind to learn about many medical tools, and He sometimes uses medicine to heal. There may also be some cases of depression so severe that medications are necessary to bring the sufferer to the place where they can tackle some of the other issues; such cases might require medication, at least temporarily. I know of no Scripture that forbids such use.

 

Unresolved Issues, Root Causes.

However, any medications should be used with caution. Virtually any medicine has some side effects. Drugs can mask the symptoms, allowing you to ignore root causes. Some people may use antidepressants to avoid approaches that require you to deal with other unresolved issues. It seems easier to pop a pill. A general rule of thumb is to try other strategies first, unless the depression is so severe that the person endangers themselves or finds themselves unable to participate in other therapies.

Depression is a complex area, and severe problems of depression deserve the attention of a pastor or other counselor. There are numerous biblical references to depression, one of the human race’s most common and distressing afflictions. It is likely that the first humans to experience depression were Adam and Eve, after they sinned against God.

Examples of people in the Bible who suffered bouts of depression

  • Abraham (Genesis 15)
  • Jonah (Jonah 4)
  • Job (Book of Job)
  • Elijah (1 Kings 19)
  • King Saul (I Samuel 16:14-23, etc.)
  • Jeremiah (Book of Jeremiah)

§ David (Psalms 6, 13, 18, 23, 25, 27, 31, 32, 34, 37-40, 42-43, 46, 51, 55, 62-63, 69, 71, 73, 77, 84, 86, 90-91, 94-95, 103-104, 107, 110, 116, 118, 121, 123-124, 130, 138, 139, 141-143, 146-147) 

Depression due to guilt

CAIN, son of Adam (having disobeyed God)
"Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast (depressed)? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.’"     -Genesis 4:6-7

DAVID, King of Israel (having committed adultery was depressed until he confessed his sin)"When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah.-Psalm 32:3-4

Release from depression caused by guilt came from confession and seeking God’s forgiveness…

"For I said in my haste, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried out to You. Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. …I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
     -Psalm 31:22 – 32:2, 32:5 (NKJV)

David’s humble prayer for forgiveness (an example for us all)

"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving-kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight; That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was broug

ht forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. …For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise."     -Psalm 51:1-13, 16-17 (NKJV)

When you’re depressed, place your hope in God.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. …For You are the God of my strength…"     -Psalm 42:5, 43:2 (NKJV)

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."     -Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.
     -Philippians 4:4-8 (NKJV)

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
     -1 Peter 5:6-7

Although things may be difficult, Christians can avoid deep depression.

"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

-2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18 (NIV)

Remember what Jesus Christ went through for us. Remember what the apostle Paul experienced, yet remained focused on the eternal rather than the temporary. When we maintain faith and keep our focus on God’s love and the hope He has given us for eternity, Christians can weather the storms of life. It can be done.

Paul — "…I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, and I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."
     -2 Corinthians 11:23b-28 (NIV)

When the Israelites were depressed, God called them to put their faith into action.

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

References:

[Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, Josh McDowell’s Handbook on Counseling Youth (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1996), chapter 5; Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide, revised edition (Dallas, Texas: Word Publishing, 1988).]

In His Grace Forever,

Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP

Young Adult Crisis Hotline and

Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD

                                                     (2463)

theodoreawadjr@comcast.net

http://yacrisishotline.tripod.com/

http://youngadultcrisishotline.blogspot.com

youngadultcrisishotline@comcast.net