Disillusionment, Despair and Depression
“Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.” (Oswald Chambers)
There is an ache that afflicts the human heart that has nothing to do with disease or death. It’s a heaviness that comes when we are disillusioned, despairing, or depressed. Though it is possible to function with anxiety or concern weighing upon us, we can’t function normally. Life becomes burdensome when we are dominated by negative feelings and thoughts, and we begin to doubt the promise of hope.
One way to look at disillusionment, despair, and depression is to see them as avenues back to the heart of God. God doesn’t necessarily cause these afflictions, but He can use them to bring us closer to Him. Here’s what we mean.
Have you ever been disillusioned over a person you think should have acted differently? Why the disillusionment? It came because your perceived notion about that person turned out to be false. In other words, it was an illusion. To be dis-illusioned is to see people as they really are, which can trigger a negative response in us. Don’t let that happen. Never place unrealistic demands on people, especially the people you care most about. They will never be able to live up to your expectations. Instead, place your expectations on God. He is the only one who can satisfy them. With God there are no illusions.
When it comes to despair, there are generally two causes. The first is a sense of having done something you can’t change, as much as you’d like to. Maybe you did something you think is terrible—and you don’t see how you could possibly move on. You said something you can’t take back, you did something you can’t undo, or you caused something you can’t change. The other cause for despair comes from not doing something you believe you should have. Perhaps you missed a great opportunity, or you didn’t say something you should have. Either cause—doing something you shouldn’t have, or not doing something you should have—can easily lead to despair.
Rather than living in your despair, give it to God. If you need to ask God to forgive you, do it now. Admit your mistake, accept His forgiveness, and move on. If you regret missing an opportunity, don’t dwell on it. Pick yourself up and find the next opportunity.
Despair is a common human experience. It shows we are unable to do the right thing all the time. But it’s also a wake-up call for us to break from the past and trust God for the future.
Depression seems more deep-seated and less easily overcome than disillusionment and despair. Yet God can use our depression to help us appreciate life’s ordinary things. Without depression, we would never appreciate joy. Like a piece of black velvet that makes a diamond sparkle, depression can lead us to exult in life’s natural treasures. A floral bouquet, a baby’s smile, a vivid sunset—these are the kinds of things that can bring us to a place of happiness once again.
The key is not simply to try to overcome our depression, but to rest in God’s provision and strength. When the prophet Elijah was so depressed that he wanted to die, God sent an angel who encouraged Elijah to eat. When the apostle Paul felt crushed and overwhelmed by all the tough stuff in his life, he learned to rely on God rather than himself. “And he did deliver us from mortal danger,” Paul writes. “And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us.” (2 Corinthians 1:10)
More than anything else, God desires that we love Him with every part of our being: heart, soul, mind, and strength. If any of these are weak, He is the one to give us strength. He is the one who will give us hope.
… IN THE TOUGH STUFF
- While we sometimes live in the past, God always pulls us to the future.
- The only thing in the world you can change is you.
- God is more eager to forgive than we are willing to ask forgiveness.
- The best cure for depression is hope.
- The best source of hope is God.
From God is in the Tough Stuff by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz, pp.160-165