Friday, January 24, 2014

Depression and being Thankful

Depression can swamp us with such an overwhelming array of disturbing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual symptoms that it is only natural for us to focus obsessively on all the negative aspects of our life. Trivial annoyances become major irritations while more major inconveniences can cause our temper to explode out of control.

Here is an excerpt from my diary, where I lamented over the seemingly never ending suffering of depression.

14th June 1990 –
What is suffering?
It must be the human inheritance,
It never ends.
It just goes on and on and on.
And I’ve had enough, but whom do I tell?
How do I get off this merry-go-round?

I keep asking myself, why am I still here?
Why am I still even trying?
Why don’t I just give up and end it?
I mean, is this all there is to human life?
Suffering?
Is this it?


Recognising my tendency to dwell on the negative while severely depressed, I took steps to counter it. One such step was to pause before each meal and think of ten things to thank God for. Another was to sing praise songs to God, even if I did not feel like it. Doing so changed my focus ever so slightly, adding a touch of colour to my bleak, hopeless day, by reminding me that although my life was an absolute mess, there were still plenty of things to be thankful for should I but search for them.

Here’s another excerpt from my diary, written only five days after the above diary entry.

19th June 1990 –
My life at the moment is not much of a life,
But I guess I should still be thankful,
So I still praise Him for all He has given me.


In her diary, One Liter of Tears, young Aya Kito, who was suffering from incurable spinocerebellar degeneration disease, wrote this: (1)

I put my hand on my chest.
I can feel my heart beating.
My heart is working.
I’m pleased. I’m still alive!


Thanking God for His blessings while in the midst of chronic suffering also reminds us that He is our provider, that He knows what we need, and that we have nothing to fear.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7

In time, I thanked God for all the things He was doing in and through my life because of depression, and much later, I also thanked Him for allowing me to go through depression itself.

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


If you’re reading this post, please join me in thanking God for ten things today. I’ll start the ball rolling, with the first comment:

(1) Page 107. One Liter of Tears, A Young Girl’s Fight for Life, Ayo Kito, FA Publishing, 1986.

25 comments:

  1. Thanks God:
    for Jesus, my Lord and Saviour
    for always being with me
    for teaching me Your ways
    for my loving wife and children
    that I have somewhere to sleep
    that I have a job
    for teaching me how to live with tinnitus
    for epilepsy medication that controls seizures
    for my crazy, faithful cat
    that I could finish painting inside the house today

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  2. Peter, thank you for sharing your ten of thanking God. I cannot come up with a whole lot. One thing I do thank Him for is that I am still alive and believe that being so, He has a purpose for my life.

    Blessings to you dear one!

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  3. well you stumbled by my blog, but after reading yours, I realize it was no accident but just another page in Gods plan....thanx for sharing your heart and listing to God....

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  4. Thanks JBR,God most certainly does have a purpose for your life.

    Thanks for dropping by, Steven - I'm always blessed by God's 'coincidences.'

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  5. thank you God for being my Father
    thank you for using me to help others
    thank you that through the bad I am made strong
    thank you that there is light no matter how far away
    thank you for the people in my life
    thank you for teaching me love
    thank you that because of you I can have faith
    thank you that the sun is out today
    thank you for hope
    thank you

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  6. Hi Peter,
    I got up early this morning (5:30) to do the ironing and use that time to talk to the LORD before the mad rush of the day begins.

    - Thank you Lord, for quiet mornings
    - Thank you Lord, that we have clothes to wear.

    I was lamenting to the Father that nothing seems to go right. That one day seems to be as painful and frustrating as another. That I never seem to hear His voice, that we seem so far apart (some of the ironing will have salty patches).

    - Thank you Lord, for Your infinite love and patience with me

    I needed to take some pain medication but before I take the pain medication, I needed to eat something, but before I can eat anything, I need to take my thyroid medication and wait 30 minutes.

    - Thank you Lord, for reminding me to take it as soon as I woke up

    I made a bowl of fruit salad and checked my emails.

    - Thank you, Lord, for fresh fruit salad

    I found your most recent blog posting, Peter.

    - Thank you Lord, for friends like Peter and Julie and Josh and Joanne and Lauralee and Dee and Shirley and Cheri.
    - Thank you Lord for my family (even when I want to stick them in a box and send them to Madagascar)
    - Thank you Lord, for my five precious grandchildren
    - Thank you Lord, for the puppy curled up asleep on my lap.
    - Thank you Lord, the my car so I can take my elderly neighbour shopping
    - But most of all, thank you Lord, for loving me and sending Jesus to be my Saviour, and for adopting me as your child.

    The fruit salad is gone, the puppy is still asleep, but the ironing is calling my name again.

    Have a wonderful day my dear friends, filled with God's love, joy and peace.

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  7. I love that verse from Thessalonians because it's so clear what the Lord had willed for His children. Great post. And I'm glad that you are given discernment of what God had willed for you. God bless bro. Peter and may He protect you and your family always.

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  8. I am thankful for

    A faithful, loving husband
    A wonderful church
    A pastor who makes me laugh and challenges me each and every week
    The gift of mothering four incredible children
    My home
    Food
    My husband's job
    Each person God allows me to reach through my blog
    A warm, comfortable bed
    Health

    Blessings,
    Sandy

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  9. Hi Julia, God's being doing such amazing things in your life, thanks for sharing your list of 'thank you God' with us.

    Dear Lynne
    You deal with so much every day, yet every time I speak to you I come away feeling lifted up and encouraged. Your list of 'thank you God' here is so moving, I really appreciate all the small details you included.

    Thanks Rosel, that verse in Thessalonians is an easy one to put in practice when everything seems to be going well, but when the storms came, when stuck in the wilderness, that's when I really learned what it meant.

    Thank you for stopping by Sandy, and for sharing your list of 'thank you God' too. And through your last blog post that I read, God spoke to me clearly through it, confirming His direction for my life. Thanks!

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  10. I try to always thank God daily, and when I start saying thank you, more and more things come to mind to be thankful for.

    Thank you God for...

    Trusting me with the ministry responsibilities you've put into my life

    Being a blessing to others every day

    Being able to truly smile as I serve, because I find joy in it

    Never leaving me or forsaking me, even when I forsake You

    My Christian friends and mentors who aren't shy to tell me when I've got something wrong

    My non-Christian friends who I can be Christ to

    Knowing when I need to take a long drink from the well

    Never going hungry, never being cold, never being homeless, never being without - for providing for my every need

    For the most awesome husband and life-partner

    For my daughter who is also my friend

    For leading me to my church and my church family

    For Your unfailing love, mercy and grace

    For abundant and eternal life in Christ Jesus

    Ok, I lost count. :)

    Thanks, Peter. My spirit is lifted!
    :)
    Love
    Cat

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  11. Thanks for sharing, Cat! And losing count when counting God's blessings is a great thing :)

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  12. I thank God for
    -having a job
    -my relationship with Jesus
    -for his mercy & grace
    -for good friends
    -the health of my loved ones
    -my church
    -having abundantly more than I need
    -His promises

    Marianne

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  13. Thank you for the prompting, Peter!

    Lord,

    I thank you for making me alive and sustaining me for 41 years. It hasn't all been fun, but it has been rich in memories and learning.

    Thank you for coming to find me when I was far away, for helping your word "Call out" to me, so that I could believe.

    Thank you for my wife--her faithfulness, wisdom, and practicality. Oh, and she's very pretty too. ;-)

    Thank you for my children. As challenging as they are, they are absolutely treasures.

    Thank you for the gift of imagination; that people made in your image can create things like Middle Earth, Narnia, and Pandorum...

    Thank you that Heaven will surpass anything we can imagine.

    Thank you for two great jobs: teaching and writing.

    Thank you for good friends.

    Thank you for my health.

    Thank you for your word that is the one thing I can ultimately count on--NO MATTER WHAT I'M FEELING!

    Please give to me the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so that I might know you better.

    Amen

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  14. Thanks Marianne and Wayne, for sharing your 'thank you God' as well, and I loved it that you both thanked God for His promises, that no matter how we feel, we can count on His Word.

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  15. Peter, it's wonderful to see your spirit that refuses defeat when it's oftentimes been challenged and tested.

    I have many things to be grateful for even though the great loss in my life seems to make all the blessings in my life appear small and insignificant. But thank God that our Father is merciful!

    Thank you Peter for the reminder that having a thankful spirit is the way to go!


    ~Silver

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  16. Thanks for such an amazing post! It's definitely put a smile on my face! Sp here's what I want to thank my Father for:

    - I can read His Word (and blogs like these).
    - I can listen to worship music and sing along.
    - He's promised all kinds of amazing things for my future (especially for 2010).
    - That this summer is warm but not ridiculously hot like last summer.
    - For providing for all of my needs.
    - For my Jesus-loving friends who strengthen and encourage me and who I adore.
    - He's promised me a place in Heaven.
    - For picking me up each time I start to feel how I used to before He saved me.
    - For access to fresh food and clean water.
    - He's abundantly filled my heart and my life with love and blessings.

    Wow that was really cool! Thanks for encouraging us to do that!

    xox

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  17. Peter,
    I thank you for so bravely and eloquently speaking out about such a pervasive problem. I believe depression is a silent epidemic in our world. You have such good words here. I have found gratitude to be a valuable tool when working with my patients who are depressed or dealing with difficult life circumstances.

    By chance have you ever been to Ann Voskamp's blog? A Holy Experience? She hosts what is called the gratitude community on...Mondays, I believe. She is an amazing woman. You will be blessed to pay her a visit.

    Thanks for stopping by the Wellspring!

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  18. Hi Peter, it's nice to meet you. You visited my blog several days ago, I did not see your comment till today. I need to look back to my previous posts more often. I can see I will be visiting here quite often.

    I think the thing I am most grateful for is God's faithfulness. In my journey if I falter, and I do, he is there. Always!

    Blessings!

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  19. Hi Silver, thanks for sharing. I cannot begin to imagine the loss you have experienced, yet when I visit your blog, I'm always moved by the hope that shines through your writing.

    Thanks so much for sharing your list of things to thank God for, Anneliese, and for reminding us to be thankful for fresh food and clean water, something we too often take for granted.

    Hey Laura, thanks for letting me know about Ann's blog, I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks also for your comments about depression, it truly is a silent epidemic.

    Thanks for visiting the blog, Mary, I really enjoying your artwork on your blog:)
    Thanks for sharing about God's faithfulness too.

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  20. Lord, today I thank you:
    * For Your Presence in my life.
    * For I am alive.
    * For the fears I had this morning.
    * For the family I have.
    * For my job.
    * For your Holy Spirit.
    * For Jesus Christ.
    * For your grace.
    * For your Love.
    * For my struggles.
    * For my church.
    * For your provision.
    * For the air I breath.
    * For my wounds.
    * For the situations I've lived.

    I have realized that if I focus on thanksgiving to God, easily, I can find more than 10 reasons in less than 5 minutes. That helps me to focus on God and not on myself, something I've struggling with.

    Blessings,

    Omar.

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  21. Thanks for sharing you 'thank you God' list too, Omar, and how thanking God is helping you to focus on Him. And yeah, that's a struggle. When we are suffering, it is so hard to take our eyes off ourselves.
    God bless :)

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  22. I have been helped when I feel depressed by focusing on God, and using the Serenity Prayer to realise that somethings I can't change so to focus on the things I can, and God's wisdom to know the difference. Hope this help someone. Thank You for this site.

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  23. Dear Anonymous,
    Thanks for sharing about the Serenity Prayer, it's a wonderful prayer.
    Thanks for dropping by,
    God bless.

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  24. Thank you Father for:
    -your unconditional love
    -your favour which surrounds me as a shield
    -the gift of knowing your son Jesus
    -for good health
    -for a monthly income
    -for a roof over our head
    -for daily bread
    -for true friends like j and v
    -that i met K and the purpose he is serving in my life though i did not expect things to be the way they are right now. Bless him!
    -for my family
    -for safety on the roads and in the air
    -for the future that you hold in your hands
    -for many opportunities that you give me
    -for fulfilling my childhood dream
    -that i am fearful and wonderfully made

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