Every once in a while a patient comes in with depression with a story that once heard causes me to think, “I'd be depressed too!” Had one of those visits recently. A man in his late 70's came in with depression. In the last year he had struggled with a rare cancer that required uncomfortable radiation treatments and the collapse of a replaced hip. The hip was replaced 7 weeks earlier in a massive reconstruction that required him to bear no weight at all for months. An avid athlete, this was a tough pill to swallow. A few weeks into his recovery he came down with a severe pneumonia that nearly did him in and required an 8 day stay in the hospital, sapping what little strength remained. He was emotionally and physically exhausted, deeply depressed and discouraged.
As we talked I thought of a sermon on depression I have preached several times. The sermon, titled “Dealing with Discouragement," seems to resonate with so many people, because everyone struggles with discouragement. The principles are universal and worth sharing and were helpful to him that day. In the hope that they may help others I will be sharing them in the coming posts.
Reading Hebrews 12 one of the things that jumps out are the repeated exhortations to not give up. In verse 1 the author tells the readers that they should "run with endurance the race that is set before them." In the running analogy he is suggesting that we remember life is a long race and fatigue is common- It seems to me that he would not say endurance was needed unless we were going to be running for a while!
It reminds me of lessons I learned from watching my brothers run track and field. They ran the 800 meters and cross country, and it is a fact of running that sprinting out to the lead is not a good way to win a long race. Sprinters tire quickly and are seldom in front at the end. It seems the author was saying the faithful life is like that. If we treat it like a sprint, expecting it to be over soon, we will be disappointed.
Later in the chapter we are told that as we run we are to consider what Jesus endured in His life, so we will "not grow weary and lose heart." Sounds like there must be a danger of getting tired and discouraged! This is a common theme in scripture. Reading through the New Testament we are often reminded to stand firm, persevere, and endure to the end. We would not be repeatedly reminded to hang in there if dropping out was not a real possibility. Life is often hard!
It sounds funny, but it is encouraging for me to know that I am not the only person who battles discouragement! If you are feeling discouraged, you are not alone either and encouragement is available.
The Bible gives us ways to deal with this discouragement and we will be covering these in the next few posts.
This is the first post of a series on Dealing with Discouragement. If you have been touched by this post, please share it with a friend. If you would like to subscribe to this blog and receive future posts by email, click on the subscribe link. Beneath my photo upper right on a computer screen or scroll to the bottom on your mobile device.