Stacy Reaoch | Category: The Christian Life
This article originally appeared at Desiring God on November 19, 2016.
It was only about a year into our marriage when I had my first bout with mild depression. And it didn’t make sense to me. I finally was married to the man of my dreams. I had landed my first teaching job. We had started a new life together and were making new friends. But for whatever reason, my heart was downcast. Life felt overwhelming, like I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and stay in bed for the day.
The constant sadness in my heart finally led me to go to a doctor to share how I’d been feeling. Instead of quickly writing a prescription, my physician wisely talked through the major life changes I had experienced in the last twelve months — college graduation, moving away from family, marriage, my first real job — and assured me that my roller-coaster emotions were normal in light of all I had experienced in one year.
Eventually, I came out of that gray fogginess, but over the years of my adult life there have been other times where I’ve started to slide into the pit of despair. A melancholy side to my personality makes me prone to see the glass as half empty. I realize that for many individuals medication is truly necessary. But the weapon that has made the most difference in my life in fighting depression, and something we can all benefit from, is gratitude.
Worship Grows in Gratitude
In Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s excellent book Choosing Gratitude, she makes the point that we are either whining or worshiping. Our natural, sinful state makes us prone to see what we lack, what we don’t have, and what’s gone wrong in our lives.
Complaining is often my default response. Just the other day I noticed how even though I’d had a relatively good day, as soon as my husband walked in the door after work, I talked about the kids’ after-school squabble, our little guy’s potty-training accident, and did I forget to mention the freezer isn’t working right?
Often the things that pour off our tongues to others can be complaints of things not going our way or how we’ve been mistreated by others. We’re a rights-oriented culture, and if we don’t get what we think is rightfully ours, we storm off in anger or despair. Often, we slip on the sins of entitlement and discontentment down the slope to anxiety and depression. We can become surrounded by dark thoughts and unmet expectations that weigh down our hearts and put a cloud over our minds.
On the other hand, we will never be able to lift our hearts from despair to worship without expressing thanks to God. The theme of thanksgiving runs throughout all of Scripture. In the Psalms we’re commanded to give thanks to God:
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! (Psalm 105:1)
Thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! (Psalm 107:8)
The book of Colossians also carries the theme of thanksgiving. In Colossians 3:14–17, Paul mentions thankfulness three different times, one of them being, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Likewise, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us that it is God’s will to give thanks in all circumstances.
Six Tactics to Topple Ingratitude
God calls us to be thankful people. And it’s the very attitude of thanksgiving that can transform our lives. If you find yourself wandering down the dark path of depression and despair, here are six simple ways to fight for joy through gratefulness.
The purpose of our church blog is to serve the overall mission of our church: to delight in the beauty of God's greatness,