Tis the season for joy right? At least that’s what we are told. It seems like Christmas time is when we talk the most about love, joy, peace, and generosity, but so often we aren’t experiencing those things. It’s sad to me, but I understand, that so many people struggle with depression during the holidays.
Stress, anxiety and depression can attack us all throughout the year, but for many reasons, it seems to be heightened at this time. Whether it’s loneliness, financial pressure, the busyness of the season, grieving over a lost loved one or something else, pressure, stress, worry, anxiety all seem to be amped up right now.
So, where am I looking for joy? I understand that all those factors are very real and should not be ignored. I also understand that there are very real chemical imbalances that can cause anxiety or depression and may need to be diagnosed and treated with medicine. In my sermon, on Sunday I talked about the very real attacks of depression and anxiety in my own family. I understand how real they are. But I also know that many times, we sink deeper into our depression or heighten our anxiety by seeking the solution elsewhere.
Psalm 119:143 says As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.
We often think of God’s commands as the “Do’s and dont’s” of our faith, right? They absolutely include those, but His commands are not limited to just that. God’s commands aren’t just the things we are supposed to avoid and the things we are supposed to act on, they are also the things we are given to believe. Promises if you will. God’s promises can be and are included in God’s commands.
So, with that in mind, where do I look for joy?
Craig Groeshcel, pastor of Life.Church in Oklahoma said, “Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.” He goes on to say, “Ask yourself two questions: 1. What negative thoughts are influencing or hindering your life? What spiritual truths can set you free from those strongholds?” You can read more about what he calls “The Power of Personal Declarations” HERE.
Outside of just the power of the Holy Spirit, this one thing has been most helpful to my wife and I as we have walked through a two year season of anxiety and depression together. There is something about claiming God’s Truth into and over your life that starts to fill your bucket with joy and peace. And this joy is not rooted in my surroundings, it’s rooted in spiritual Truth that does not change!
Scripture — As pressure and stress bear down on you, what would it look like to start claiming Scripture over your life? Here are a few to consider:
1 Peter 5:7 7 Give all your worries (anxiety) and cares to God, for he cares about you.
“God, I thank you that in the midst of my cares You care about me!” That’s a “command”, a promise from God!
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
“God, I know that my soul is saved in You, but my spirit is crushed right now. Thank you that you are close to me in my painful circumstances, and you rescue me when my spirit is crushed!” Another “command”, a promise from God.
Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
“Jesus, I am weary and worn out right now but I thank you that in YOU I can find rest.” A “command,” a promise from God.
Statements — As pressure and stress bear down on you, what would it look like to start claiming some statements of truth over your life? Here are a few to consider:
Because I have put my faith in You, I am a SON/Daughter of the one true King.
Because I have put my faith in You, even though I’m facing many problems, I know you have a purpose for me and I trust You!
Because I have put my faith in You, even though I’m in pain I know you have a plan and I trust You!
Both my wife and I have a long list of revelations of truth that God has given us to lean on in times of need. These are one’s specifically given to us in times of need. Each day, Sabrina and I speak these into and over our lives. Here are a few of mine that may be helpful for you. These are all things through prayer counseling that God revealed to my heart. There are many more, but here are a few that are so helpful for me.
“You’re worth it!”
“You’re not alone!”
“You’re pleasing in my sight!”
“You’re in good hands, Jeff!”
“You are free!”
In a season where I was overwhelmed with worry for my wife, the Lord revealed to me, “I love her more than you do!”
In a season of fear, “Don’t be afraid, take my hand.”
Songs — As pressure and stress bear down on you, what would it look like to start claiming some truth out of songs that are based on the Sovereignty of our God? Here are a few to consider that have been helpful to me:
Come to Me by Element Music
Standing On Your Promises by Element Music
Cornerstone by Hillsong
Even If by Mercy Me
Eye Of The Storm by Ryan Stevenson
Simple — I know some people might say, “I am so overwhelmed that there is no way I can remember Scripture, statements or songs.” So, as pressure and stress bear down on you, what would it look like to start claiming some simple truths into and over your life? Here are a few to consider:
“God, I don’t even know if I want to be alive today, but I woke up alive so you must want me here. Thank you God that today I have breath!” If you’re breathing today, God commanded that to happen and you can find joy in that!
“God, thank you that I ate today!” “God, thank you that I have clothes on my back!” “God, thank you that I have a roof over my head.” God is the supplier of our needs.
All you might be able to muster are simple declarations of the goodness of God, but in those declarations, you might find the beginning of joy!
I don’t know where you find yourself today, but I hope you’ll be able to find some joy. Happiness is based on my circumstances, but joy can be rooted in my heart! My prayer for you is, that through some Scripture, statements of truth, songs or simple facts of life, you will find joy!