Anxiety, Depression, and the Joy of Salvation

I would like to preface this post with a disclaimer – I am fully aware that there is a diagnosable, treatable condition called “depression”. I am in no-way dismissing the real condition, though I do propose genuine depression is far more rare than diagnosed, and is almost always complicated by spiritual matters.

David wrote, in Psalm 51 some touching words – I would like to focus a bit on verse 12:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit…”

What was King David writing about? The context is rather telling – as David had just been confronted by Nathan the prophet over David’s adultery with Bathsheba. You see, had we the power to travel back in time to observe what was going on, we would find David in a funk that most today would call “depression”. But we must also realize, David was already on this path long before the adulterous affair. he was neglecting his duties as King and had, for all practical purposes, become distant and disconnected. David’s spiritual slide reached a peak with the Bathsheba incident.

How many of us experience a spiritual “slide”, with or without a “Bathsheba incident”? And what is the result?  Lost joy.

The symptoms are often much like David’s – disconnect, depression, anxiety, fear, and sometimes much more. For the born-again believer in Jesus Christ, it sometimes leads to withdrawing from the local church, intentionally seeking flaws and faults and exploiting them for what can only be described as dividing. Sometimes the symptom for the church member is a refocus not on the Gospel, but on self – personal preferences, “my way”, or a militant resistance to anything new. Fellowship with fellow believers suffers, but more troubling – this person’s relationship with the Lord suffers.

What happened? Sometimes it is a simple matter of having given in to the lie that not all sins are a “big deal”. We forget that scripture tells us “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The language here doesn’t differentiate between “little sins” and “big sins”, “bad lies” and “good lies”, and so forth. All sin, but its very nature is worthy of death.

And this leads us to the vaccine for depression and loss of Joy in salvation – and that is to remind ourselves that we all are, by our nature, worthy of eternal death and separation, yet the Lord in His infinite mercy and grace chose us, draws us, and redeems us by the blood of Christ. It is that redemption that seals up another promise of the Lord – to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5).

The sad truth is, whenever we feel that the Lord is distant, that we experience depression or undue anxiety, it is nearly always the product of our own distancing ourselves. Whether from the aforementioned sin, or by allowing people to take up residence in our minds and hearts through grudges and an unwillingness to forgive. When we allow others and their attacks to bring us down to their level. When we allow the situations and issues of the day draw our eyes off our Savior and the great salvation He provided us – then we are inevitably going to loose grip on the joy of the Lord’s salvation.

Let us remember – this all boils down to a very real spiritual battle going on. It is the very kind of battle that the apostle Paul wrote of in Ephesians 6:10-12 of those we are REALLY doing battle with. It isn’t against people (as bad as they can behave).  We are at war with the forces of darkness led by Satan. Sometimes among his pawns we find the Atheist and Agnostic, the Pagan, the Satanist, and sometimes we find the professed Christian! Indeed, it is my experience that Satan’s favorite pawns are those who claim to belong to Christ, as these are the very people we should see as examples, as the very people we can count on to bear our burdens, to lift us up, and to help us forward. This is why it hurts so much (as compared to the attacks from outside) when those we see as brothers and sisters in Christ become our antagonists.

But again – perspective is absolutely necessary – the battle is the Lord’s. We are simply to stand fast (Ephesians 6) in the power, not of our own, but of the Lord. We need to dwell on those things that are pure, good, holy, and righteous. We must take on the full armor of God. We must trust the Word of God. We must fully trust in the completed work of Christ. And we must put into practice the very life He has called us to.  Is Jesus really your “all in all”? Is He really Who you are trusting?

Miss the Joy of Salvation? Feel helpless and distant from God? Then call out to Him, take on the Whole Armor of God, trust completely in Him, remember what He died to save you from. Draw near to Him.

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