When I started driving gas was 28 cents a gallon; so long as I had a five dollar bill it was easy to keep the tank of my car full. Having said that, I remember running out of gas on several occasions because I forgot to watch my gas gauge. One time I was driving to school on a curvy mountain road when my car suddenly quit and rolled to a stop. I could not believe I had done it again! In a panic, I jumped out of my car and stuck out my thumb to hitchhike to a gas station. The first car that came along stopped and I jumped in as I asked the driver to take me to the gas station. The driver dropped me off at a station that was a couple of miles away and the gas station attendant kindly filled up a plastic gas can and drove me back to my car. (Thankfully, there were no serial killers out looking for foolish girls to take advantage of that day. It was not until much later that I realized how graciously God had put His hand of protection over me!)
Reflecting on Ecclesiastes in my Journey Notes, I have been struck by how the writer (with absolutely nothing out of his reach in terms of power and wealth) totally came up on “empty” as he assessed all that he had done in his life. This is what stood out to me this morning:
“I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; NOTHING WAS GAINED UNDER THE SUN.” (2:10b, 11)
Depression is a very old problem that began when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. What I find interesting, is that Ecclesiastes affirms the root of man’s depression (referred to by many today as “the common cold of psychiatry) continues to be mans disconnection with God. Consider 2:24 & 25: “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him who can eat or find enjoyment?”
Because we live in a fallen world Christians also get depressed or experience anxiety, coming up “empty” in trying times. But God has blessing for those who seek Him for the help they need. The question is, how can we assess that blessing? The following are some guidelines that have been helpful to many of my clients over nearly twenty years:
- Give thanks to God that you are not alone in your struggle, that He is faithful even when we are not. Ask Him for clarity in looking at yourself, the people around you and your situation. Repent of whatever sin you have committed and give thanks to Him for that forgiveness.
- Talk to someone who you know as being spiritually mature and who knows the Scriptures. Request their prayer support and their help as an accountability partner.
- Go to the Scriptures to be “filled” as you ask God’s Spirit to grant you a teachable heart. I encourage all of my clients to go to God, with the help of the Journey Notes process between sessions, to be “filled” with the wisdom and strength of the Scriptures.
- Give thanks for what He shows you in the Scripture and act accordingly.
- Actively commit to a local church that centers on Christ and the Scriptures.
It can be a good thing to come up on “empty” at times when it helps to underscore how much we need God in our lives. If you are struggling with depression right now then let me encourage you with these verses from Psalm 139: 7, 8, 11 & 12,“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.”
Do you see the blessing? No matter how dark and empty things may appear, if you have Christ in your life it will never be as dark as it would be without Him. The closer you are to Him, the lighter (and I must add fuller with hope) will be your perceptions.
All to His Glory!