There are times in life when a person, though mentally fit, experiences a nameless unhappiness in the soul. It is the same condition reflected in the Psalmist’s lament, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” 1 This affliction touches many, including Christians, and it is a state that leads to spiritual depression.
One of the causes of spiritual depression is fear of the future. This was a peculiar problem of one young man in the New Testament named Timothy. He was dependent on the Apostle Paul, and fears arose with the impending perils that his mentor was facing. Alongside was a fear of failure in the seemingly daunting tasks that lay ahead of him while Paul was in prison.
Paul addressed Timothy’s fear with a two-step approach: a reprimand and a reminder. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Paul reprimands Timothy for being gripped by the spirit of fear: a spirit which does not come from God. If we suffer from this manifestation of spiritual depression, it is due to our inability as Christians to realize what God has given us and is giving us — the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is being negligent to stir up ourselves, to think, to take ourselves in hand.
What then, has God given us? First in the list is the spirit of power. Victorious, miraculous power in living the Christian life, in battling with temptation and sin, “a power to go on whatever the conditions, whatever the circumstances, power to hold on and to hold out”. 2
Next, Paul mentions the spirit of love. One of the root causes of the problem is that fearful people are too involved in self. The way to rid of self is to be so absorbed in someone or something else, leaving no room for thinking about oneself. The spirit of love.
Lastly, God has given us the spirit of a sound mind. In spite of our natural weaknesses, God has given us, for us to appropriate, the spirit of self-control, discipline and judgment.
As Christians, we do not live on and by ourselves. Through God’s marvelous work of salvation, He has implanted within us a principle of a divine spiritual life through Jesus Christ. We need to “stir up the gift”, reminding ourselves of who we are in Christ. And casting fear aside, let us move steadily forward in life, giving glory to the One Who gave His all for us.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, Great Britain: Pickering and Inglis, Ltd, 1977, pp. 92-105
1 Psalm 45:3, ESV
2 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, Great Britain: Pickering and Inglis, Ltd, 1977, p. 102
Photography Credit: Dawn Breaks by Eugene Kurenkov