Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Breaking Depression's Fear Cycle

In the previous article, I discussed the importance of facing depression’s distressing symptoms rather than fearfully shrinking from them, as explained by Dr Weekes, 'I have no doubt that you are tensely shrinking from the feelings within you and yet, are ready to “listen in” in apprehension?...Now examine and do not shrink from the sensations that have been upsetting you. I want you to examine each carefully, to analyse and describe it to yourself...Do not tensely flinch from it. Go with it. Relax and analyse it…Now that you have faced and examined it, is it so terrible?' (1) That is, although we are initially convinced that we cannot possibly live or function while these symptoms rage within us, the fact is that after we have faced them, we realise that we can still live and function with them.

Once we have faced those symptoms and robbed them of their power, the next step is to put into practise a technique that will break depression’s ‘fear-adrenalin-fear cycle,’ as D octor Weekes calls it.

The Fear-Adrenalin-Fear Cycle

The cycle works like this: we react to depression by fearing, fleeing or fighting it. These reactions cause too much adrenalin to flow, and it is this adrenalin that causes depression’s symptoms. We are so desperate to get away from these symptoms that we fear, flee and fight even more, which in turn produces even more adrenalin, which prolongs symptoms and produces new, even more alarming ones, which we fear, flee, and fight, and the cycle continues.

It is crucial that we recognize that it is this cycle that causes depression’s disturbing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sensations/symptoms, and that by breaking that cycle, we can eventually be free of them.

Below I outline a system that can slow and eventually stop that excessive flow of adrenalin. The system is simple and presented quite clearly in God’s word, yet it is so ‘unnatural’ that it does not occur to us when lost in a state of anxiety. (The natural reaction to depression is to fear, flee or fight the symptoms.)

How to Break the Fear, Flight, and Fight Cycle:
1. Accept each of depression’s symptoms as being part of our life, instead of fearing, fighting or fleeing them
2. Learn to live with the symptoms as part of our life as if they were background music
3. Let time pass while trusting that God is in control (2)

Our first reaction to these steps could be, “But I don’t WANT to learn to live with these disturbing sensations - I want them to go away!”

And there lies the irony of it all. It is only when we accept those sensations, learn to live with them, and let time pass, that the flow of adrenalin begins to diminish, as it the very reaction of desperately wanting them to go away that makes them worse. And as the flow of adrenalin diminishes, the symptoms lose their intensity, shorten in duration, and slowly begin to disappear. Accepting them instead of fearing or fighting them is the way to make them go away.

The Bible teaches us time and again that we should not be anxious, and it is not just because anxiety is the opposite of peace and trusting in God, but because God knows just how much fear and anxiety harms us. Here are scriptures that illustrate this technique of breaking the fear cycle by accepting, being content, and letting time pass.

Here are some reflections in my diary about putting this technique into practice:

Verses for Acceptance:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Verse for Learning to Live with the Symptoms:
‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.’ Philippians 4:12-13

Verses for Letting Time Pass while Trusting that God is in Control:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25,27

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

While I was depressed, although I knew the Bible said I should not fear, should be content, and should rejoice in the midst of my sufferings, trying to put this into practice through sheer will power alone did not work. However, once I understood that putting those Bible verses into practice would break the fear-adrenalin-fear cycle, those verses suddenly came alive to me, causing hope to spring forth like spring rains after a drought.

It Takes Time for a Nervous System to Heal

Note that breaking the flow of adrenalin does not happen overnight, it is a gradual process that occurs over time. However, my life is a testimony to the fact that it does happen. Dr Claire Weekes says, “Accept it [the symptom] as something that will be with you for some time yet – in fact while you recover – but something that will eventually leave you if you are prepared to let time pass and not anxiously watch the churning during its passing. But do not make the mistake of thinking that it will go as soon as you cease to fear it. Your nervous system is still tired and will take time to heal, just as a broken leg takes time.” (3)

It is important that we keep ourselves busy as we let time pass while our nervous system slowly starts to heal. We need to go out of our way to find engaging, constructive activities and hobbies that interest us. Physical exercise, such as swimming, aerobics, circuit, walking or jogging, can also be of great help.

Within two months of reading “Self Help for Your Nerves,” a significant number of my symptoms, especially the physical ones, had greatly reduced in severity or ceased altogether. Over the next six months, I joined a new church, became a musician in a home group, started teaching Sunday School, and engaged in normal social activities again. Some symptoms took longer to fade away than others, but by reacting to them in the correct way, they no longer had the same power or intensity as I no longer feared them. Some symptoms, especially the mental ones such as panic attacks, lasted longer, but in time, they too faded away. Counselling was a crucial step in helping to deal with these, by helping me to retain my thought processes and gain new Biblical perspectives on the things I feared.

While stuck in depression, we think we have no future and no hope, but that is a lie from the kingdom of Satan, for in Christ we always have hope and a future. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9.

Hope enters our lives again when we know it is only a matter of time, whether weeks or months, or in the case of some symptoms, years, for our nervous system to recover from this cycle. After reading “Self Help for your Nerves,” my diary entries went from being bleak and full of despair, to containing hope, like this entry:

28th July 1990 -
This book has taught me how to react so that the merry go round will be stopped. And it’s teaching me how to react whenever it strikes again in the future.

The Importance of Surrender

To recover from depression we need to surrender every aspect of our life, including our desires and will, to Jesus. Romans 8:28 assures us that God is trustworthy and can bring good out of any situation. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

We sing, “All to Jesus, I surrender,” but do we really surrender everything? (I am pointing a finger at myself here too!) For when a storm of life comes along, instead of surrendering every aspect of the situation, including our desires, to Him, we typically react by fearing, fleeing or fighting - because we do not want to be where we are. Yet, by reacting like this, we make the suffering worse as this causes more adrenalin to flow.

Even in the midst of the storm called depression, when we accept what we are going through instead of fearing, fleeing or fighting it, when we learn to live with it, and let time pass, we can find rest and experience inner peace again. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

(1) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p21.
(2) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p19. Note, Dr Weekes includes 'floating' as a step in the treatment technique, whereas I wrote 'learn to live with it.' In my case I found the 'floating' concept hard to grasp, but easily related to that step (or my interpretation of it) when I thought of it as 'learning to live with it.'
(3) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p22.

All verses from NIV.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Depression and the Search for an Instant 'Answer’

Depression was the most confusing and bewildering experience of my life. I did not know what was wrong with me or what was causing it, and spent countless hours searching for that cause. I truly believed that if I could pin down the cause, I would find an ‘answer’ or solution that would bring instant recovery from the multitude of symptoms that assailed me.

6th January 1990 -
I am a mess and I still don’t know why. I see several possibilities as to what is happening to me:
a) I have suffered a major burnout…if this is correct, for the next six to twelve months I will run around looking for ‘the answer…’
(I had suffered an undiagnosed minor depressive episode in 1986 and spent the whole time doing exactly that.)
b) I need deliverance from something inside me or from a major external attack;
c) I need deep inner healing or renewing;
d) that maybe God is telling me that my Christian walk is unbalanced..."
e) that the enemy has developed a strategy of throwing doubts at me, which I analyse to the point that it destroys that area of my faith.
g) or maybe a combination of the above.

I have many such entries in my diary, written before I was diagnosed with depression by a doctor and a Christian counsellor. These entries reveal that I often feared that the intense suffering I was going through was caused by spiritual causes and required only a spiritual solution. It is common for Christians suffering from depression to suspect this, since their spiritual life is so clearly off balance. Because of this, they may find themselves asking questions like these: “Perhaps God is not the centre of my life like He should be? Perhaps this suffering is caused by hidden sin in my life? Perhaps I am unwittingly living in disobedience to God? And if any of these are indeed the case, has God has inflicted this suffering upon me to punish or discipline me?”

Some Christian circles also view depression as just a spiritual problem that requires only a spiritual solution. Some tell depression sufferers that they just need more faith, or to read the Bible and pray more, or to rebuke the enemy - that it is nothing more than a concerted spiritual attack. (And yes, Satan does attack those who are suffering from depression, but as my counsellor confirmed, this was not the cause of my depression but merely one aspect of it.)

Because I suspected my suffering had a spiritual cause, I kept searching for a spiritual answer in the belief that such an answer would instantly set me free. I believed that if I were to just take one particular step of obedience, or make one significant change in my spiritual life, or find and repent of a hidden sin, the depression will go away. My exhausted mind kept searching for what was causing the suffering, and because my spiritual life mattered more to me than anything else, my mind latched onto a spiritual topic that troubled me. As I examined and debated that topic, I become convinced that it was the cause of my suffering, and in the end, that topic became an obsession that took over my thought life.

In my first session with my Christian counsellor, I shared with her my fear that it was God who was inflicting depression upon me. And she said, “We make the mistake in thinking that because our spiritual life is affected by depression, the cause must be spiritual. But this is incorrect; depression touches every part of us, so why do we think that it will not touch us spiritually?” She then reassured me of the truth - that God does not afflict depression upon anyone. Using God’s Word, she showed me that my fears were unjustified and helped me to find the correct, Biblical perspective on each of them. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

For example, the symptom of depression that disturbed me the most was the complete lack of peace, which I erroneously believed to be God’s attempt to guide me. My counsellor confirmed that God does not take our peace away, but gives us a peace that transcends our understanding. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:7 And also, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

As depression dragged on, my diary entries also show me realising that there was much more to what I was going through than simply a spiritual problem, due to the host of physical, emotional and mental symptoms of depression that were afflicting me too. Yet even there, I kept looking for ‘the answer’ that would instantly set me free.

24th Sept 90 – (this was written after I knew what was wrong with me and how to recover.)
I can remember that amongst the bewilderment, some of the things I wondered were as follows:
since it was so physical as well as emotional, I wondered if it was caused by food allergies, so I considered seeing a specialist; I wondered if there was something wrong with my neck or back, so I was going to see a chiropractor; I wondered if it was caused by my car seat being set back, so I considered putting it forward; I wondered if it was caused by something being wrong with my eyes; and so on it went. Of course, none of these things had anything to do with what was causing the depression, but how was I to know?
(These were all symptoms caused by the depression.)

I learned that there is no single ‘answer’ to be instantly set free from depression, and that it is not easy for us to determine what is causing it by ourselves, since we cannot think objectively while in the midst of it. That is why others, such as a doctor, minister, Christian counsellor/therapist, a wise Christian friend, and even a resource such as the book "Self Help for Your Nerves," can help us to wade through the bewildering mess to find out the causes of depression, and point us in the right direction to recover. In the end I learned that my depression had been caused primarily by genetic inheritance (both of my parents had suffered from it), however, many other factors contributed to its severity and duration: including undiagnosed complex partial epilepsy, chronic insomnia, working myself into the ground, poor diet and lack of exercise, a massive shock, faulty theology, etc.

Depression is a complex illness and normally needs to be treated, which may include medication and Biblical counselling/therapy. And like any illness, even with the correct treatment, recovery and healing is a process that occurs over time. And when the causes of depression and its associated fears/traumas have been dealt with and the fear-adrenalin-cycle has been broken, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual symptoms will slowly reduce in severity and duration and eventually fade away. And our spiritual life will not only be restored, but can in fact be better than it was previously, as a result of the strengthening of our faith during the trial, as well as being set free from traumas/bondages from our past.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ James 1:2-4

Download an ebook on depression, ie, this blog's articles

All verses from NIV.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Depression: Good Days and Bad Days

Many if not most places in the world have fairly predictable weather. My wife is from Japan. A rainy season of twenty to thirty days of rain occurs every June, and every summer has a withering string of at least forty hot, humid days.

When someone who is used to consistent weather patterns migrates to the city of Melbourne (where I live) they are in for a bit of a shock.

We Melbournians patiently endure the cold days of winter while eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring and warmer weather. Spring finally arrives and with it comes a string of warmer, sunny days.

New comers rejoice, thinking that winter is finally over and that warmer weather has arrived!

But then without warning the warm spell vanishes, replaced by a cold snap akin to a typical winter day. Those new to Melbourne are caught unawares by this sudden return to the cold. Dressed in thin summer clothes, they shiver and often contract colds or worse. By rights, November, the month proceeding summer, should be nice and warm. Yet my grandmother, who migrated to Melbourne from Queensland, termed September to November the 'pneumonia months,' since these unexpected cold snaps caused so many illnesses.

In contrast to newcomers to Melbourne, the locals expect these abrupt changes in the weather. Throughout spring and even during December, we keep a jacket handy. If the weather turns suddenly cold, rather than be surprised and caught out, we don the jacket and stay warm.

Recovering from depression can be very much like Melbourne’s weather. Depression begins with a frigid, cold winter of despair and black hopelessness. Then as we begin to recover, it is similar to entering spring, and finally summer, or complete recovery.

Speaking from my own experience, once we start to feel better and realize we are improving, we may entertain thoughts such as, “that's it, I'm on the road to recovery, only clear sailing from here on it.”

Unfortunately, if we think this way we set ourselves up for a fall. Because like Melbourne’s spring weather, even when we begin to feel better, depression still has those cold snaps, those bad days, which can catch us completely by surprise – unless we are expecting them.

That is the theme of this article – even when on the road to recovery we need to maintain realistic expectations and expect bad days or periods to afflict us from time to time. Otherwise when they come, we may become shocked, disappointed, downcast, and even fear we are regressing rather than improving. Such reactions of course do make us temporarily worse.

Yet if we know in advance that there will be these bad patches such as panic attacks, mental churning or the return of familiar disturbing sensations, then we can react calmly and head off a negative reaction that would intensify those symptoms. These bad patches are not significant, just a normal part of the healing process. It helps us a lot if we can accept these bad days without fearing or fighting, and simply wait for tomorrow, or the next day. We need to remind ourselves, “It's just one of those days, but it will end. More good times are ahead.” Sometimes it is a case of four steps forward, three back, two forwards, one back, but upon reflection we will see that we are actually moving forward.

This was something I learnt the hard way, as you can see from my diary.

16th May 1990 –
Two weeks ago I felt almost normal again,
But was I too hopeful?
The last two or three days have been almost as bad as before,
And it has caught me off guard.
A familiar disturbed sensation once again flooded my chest and emotions,
And it was too much for me today.

I have several diary entries to this effect, but eventually, I became accustomed to the cycle of occasional bad days mixed with good ones, and I no longer bothered to record them in my diary. Instead, aware that I needed to let time pass, I concentrated on keeping my eyes fixed upon Jesus, pursuing hobbies, serving in the church, exercising, and so on.

So let us persevere and run the race Jesus has set before us, and keep our eyes fixed firmly upon Him, for He is our portion, our inheritance.

Hebrews 12:1 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

Hebrews 12:2 ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.’

Download an ebook on depression, ie, this blog's articles

All verses from NIV.

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  • Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Has God Abandoned Me?

    “Has God abandoned me?” is a desperate cry from the heart of many, whether stuck in the depths of severe depression or struggling to deal with a major crisis such as a personal tragedy, chronic health problems, even the destruction of lifelong goals.

    After floundering in the depths of severe depression for over three months, I wrote this in my diary:

    10th April 1990 –
    I see others who live and prosper,
    And yet here am I, stuck in this dark prison cell.
    Jesus, where are You? Please see my circumstances,
    Please hear my prayer.
    Please set in motion Your answer, Your solution.
    Why have You abandoned me?
    Why do You remain silent?
    I’ve waited and waited, yet I am met with silence.

    Someone suffering from depression typically loses interest in life, experiences a sense of overwhelming dread, has terrifying obsessive fearful thoughts, and also panic attacks, insomnia, guilt, confusion, anger, and a dozens of other disturbing symptoms. A depressed Christian also tends to loose the ability to feel God’s presence, cannot take comfort from His Word, and can no longer feel His love.
    If struggling with severe depression or a major life crisis, we may also look at our dire circumstances and jump to the conclusion that these terrible things have happened because God has abandoned us. We cannot comprehend how God could still be with us and yet allow us to undergo such suffering.

    Here is another entry from my diary:
    28th Feb 1990 –
    Dear Jesus, I continually get angry with You.
    Why have You allowed this? Where are You?
    How long will You remain silent? Why won’t You heal me?
    I know what You are capable of, yet You do nothing – why?

    We may become frustrated, worried and angry when it feels like God’s Word no longer seems to be working, and when He does not seem to be honoring His promises. We wonder if God has left us to fend for ourselves. We cannot understand why He will not answer our desperate prayers – can’t He see what we are going through? Doesn’t He care?

    My diary, 14th June 1990 –
    The Heavens remain silent,
    and this both angers and disappoints me.
    I thought I felt Jesus say that He is carrying me through this.
    But how can I be sure?
    And if He is, why won’t He let me feel His presence?
    Why won’t He help me?
    Where is His Word? Where are His promises?

    Another common reaction is to fear that we have let God down in some major way, wondering if we have stepped outside His will by disobeying Him, or have committed an unforgivable sin. We wonder if this was sufficient cause for God to turn His back on us and abandon us. And if we get angry with God for letting us go through this inexplicable suffering, devastating guilt may follow these bouts of anger. We may even think that we have lost our salvation and are no longer a Christian.

    From my diary, 20th July 1990:
    Experiences like the past eight months
    almost make you wonder,
    it makes me wonder if I am one of His children.

    Some Christians suffering from depression or a major crisis say: “It feels like God has abandoned me! I can’t feel God’s presence anymore.” Or, “Why has God abandoned me?”

    There are two common threads weaving through what I have written above:

    1. We may look at our circumstances and leap to the conclusion that God has abandoned us, and/or
    2. We can look at our feelings, and because we cannot feel that God is with us, we conclude that He has abandoned us.

    So what can we do when we feel or fear that God has abandoned us? What can help us get through this phase?

    Recognise Our Feelings are Deceiving Us

    When stuck in the midst of severe suffering, we need to recognise what a friend once told me, “We can’t see properly in times like this. Our feelings completely distort our world view and vision.” It is as though we are wearing extremely dark glasses all of the time. Although light surrounds us, we cannot see it because of the dark glasses.

    We Must Not Trust Our Feelings

    Bearing in mind that our feelings have become distorted, we must remind ourselves daily that we cannot trust our feelings nor pay them any heed – they are tricking and misleading us. This is hard, I know, because throughout our lives we have learned to listen to our feelings and let them guide us to some degree or another. But what may work for a healthy person does not apply to someone suffering from depression. We need to learn not to place any significance on what we are feeling, and recognise that we may remain in this condition for a while. But be encouraged, this phase does not last forever. When our exhausted mind and nervous system heal, whether this takes months or years, our feelings will return to normal. We will feel God’s presence and love again, and we will take comfort from His word again.

    We must not use our Circumstances as a Basis to Conclude that God has Abandoned us

    We need to realise that our circumstances are not an indication of whether God is with us or not. We Christians sometimes fall into the error of thinking that while things are going well, God must be with us, but when our world falls apart, it means that God has abandoned us.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, the Bible assures us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Secondly, it tells us that we will face trials, and that God will use these for good in our lives, and that He will comfort us in and through them. ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ James 1:2-4
    ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28
    Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

    We Need to Keep Things in Perspective

    We need to remind ourselves that this world and its troubles are only temporary. We who trust in and cling to Jesus have a wondrous hope – one day we shall spend eternity in heaven and see the face of God and Jesus everyday - a perfect place filled with love, joy and peace. We will also have a brand new body that is perfect in every way.
    When I consider the unimaginable, eternal riches that await us in heaven, the temporary trials I endure on the earth fade into insignificance.
    Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.' Romans 8:17-18

    Trust in What We Know, Not in What We Feel

    So if we cannot rely upon our feelings nor upon the way in which we interpret our circumstances, what can we rely upon? We can rely upon what we know and believe.
    We know and believe that God is with us (although we can’t feel it), we know and believe that He loves us (although we can’t feel it), and we know and believe His word is all powerful (although we can’t feel it and things seem to be out of control). We know these things because the Bible tells us, and because the Holy Spirit in us testifies to that fact. For now, it is enough to know God is with us, to know that Jesus loves us, and to know that His Word is all-powerful. It does not matter than we cannot feel these things while depressed or our world view has been distorted by suffering.
    In reading through my diary entries, it is interesting to see that although I lamented that I felt abandoned by God, in those very same entries, I also concluded that I knew He was still there and still cared for me. I was learning to rely upon His Word instead of upon my feelings.

    13th May 1990 –
    The Bible says to consider it joy to endure trials,
    I must say that there has been no joy in this trial.
    It defies any previous experience known to me.
    But I’ve been forced to trust God
    when it seems like He has abandoned me.
    I have been forced to come to a place
    where I have trusted Him without feeling like doing so.
    All I want to do is cry out that He had abandoned me,
    that He is not faithful.
    But He is faithful. And I know that.
    He is faithful and true. He is Jesus.

    14th June 1990 –
    I feel so like Job.
    “Curse God and die!” my thoughts yell at me.
    “Look at this suffering!
    How can He be faithful,
    when He’s apparently done nothing
    for six whole months now - curse Him and die!”

    But God is faithful, and I know that –
    it is His name – Faithful and True.

    Bible Verses that we can Rely Upon

    Feelings can change like the wind and are colored by our circumstances, and circumstances can also come and go. However, God's Word remains constant, it never changes. Let us look at some of those Bible verses now – verses we know are true and can be relied upon.

    God’s Promises to Never Leave Us

    Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

    Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

    Matthew 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

    John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

    God’s Promises that He Loves Us

    Romans 8:35,38-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Galatians 2:20 The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    God Never Changes

    God never changes, He is the one constant in an ever-changing world. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

    Assurance of Salvation

    If it feels like we think we have lost our salvation, here are a few verses to reassure us of the gift of eternal life that we receive from God when we believe in, cling to and rely upon Jesus.

    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23.

    That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 And "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16.

    It does not matter if we cannot feel that we are saved if suffering from depression or going through a major life crisis, what matters is that we believe in Jesus and stand upon His Word. (More on this topic in this article.)

    Relying on God’s Word, not our Feelings

    One last thought before I sign off. When we have learned to cope with or passed out of difficult times such as depression, we will be able to look back upon the phase where we thought God had abandoned us, and we will recognise very clearly that He was with us and holding us safely in His hands the whole time.
    We will also realise that it was during this time that we learnt to rely upon and stand on God's Word, instead of relying on our feelings.

    Luke 6:47-48 “I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”