To my sister who feels depressed,
When God first gave me the idea/task of writing this book, I also prayed about what the chapters should be called and about who my audience should be. When I initially wrote down the title of this chapter in my journal, I titled it ‘To my sister who is depressed.’ However, as you can see I had to change that. When I started typing this letter I realised that depression is not of God. Depression is of this world. Psychologists or doctors may try and prescribe you with medicine to try and combat this depression. But I know the greatest Doctor alive, with the greatest medicine known to man. His name is Jesus Christ and the greatest medicine is the Bible. I believe that people may feel what is known as ‘depressed’ due to a lack of faith in God. If we believe that through Christ we already have the victory, then why should we label ourselves as depressed?
I am a living testimony that you can overcome the feelings of depression by putting your trust in God. A couple years ago I believed that I suffered from anxiety. I was constantly shaking in awkward situations and people would ask me questions like; “are you cold?” “why are you shaking?” “does that hurt?” “whats wrong?” After a while, it started to get a bit annoying. I am the type of person who loves to search for their symptoms on the internet to look for solutions or just to be consoled by the knowledge that I am not the only one going through it. Sometimes, searching your problems can get you all worked up because you might end up self-diagnosing yourself. My symptoms could have been Parkinson’s disease according to my searches but thank God that that is not true. After frequent searches I came to the conclusion that this was a form of anxiety. I went to visit my GP and he referred me to see a neurologist. After being tested I was told that my shakes were actually a benign tremor, they suggested that I should take beta-blockers to stop the tremors before I go to interviews or anything to avoid any embarrassment but to this day I still haven’t.
As I said, I’m the type of person who likes to search my problems. One day I was on the YouVersion Bible App on my phone and decided to search for scriptures about anxiety and depression. I highlighted and bookmarked a couple of the scriptures that seemed relevant and decided to come back to them later. Out of the many scriptures that I found, there was one message from God that really stuck with me. It showed me that the way that I felt at certain times is not necessary. When I read that scripture God just opened my eyes and made me realise that He is able to take care of all my problems.
The scripture made me realise that Christ is our mediator and that I should stop feeling anxious and trust in God will all of my heart and to be totally dependent on God, believing that He will work everything out in my favour. That scripture is Philippians 4:6. I remember being at a session that is held for girls in my church and we were told to discuss scriptures in a small group. I then mentioned Philippians 4:6 and spoke to them about what it meant to me, a girl in the group later said that God had laid it on her heart to tell me to repeat that scripture three times a day for three weeks. At the time, I wasn’t completely sure about the effect that this would have, if any, but I am going to tell you this. We serve a truly faithful God! I do not need beta blockers to stop the shaking, I just need to follow the instructions that God laid out in His word and believe that He has already done it.
You might be thinking, but what you had Shaakira was just a tremor, what you had is nothing like what I am going through, you don’t know what I’m going through Shaakira! And yes, maybe that is true, I do not know what you are going through, but I do know that we serve the same God. The God that we serve does not love me more than He loves you or vice versa, and since that is the truth why would He not do for you what He did for me? If in your heart you really want to stop feeling depressed, then I want to urge you to present your requests to God. I want to urge you to truly petition.
At first, when I read that scripture I frequently overlooked the word petition, I had a vague idea of what it meant, it was one of those words that I was able to use in a sentence but I couldn’t really define. After looking up what the word meant I then understood why we were instructed to do it. We need to petition to God at times to show Him just how much we are dependent on Him for a breakthrough. God knows our desires but at times, He wants us to confess them to Him so that when we receive that change we will not be able to deny that it was God who turned it around for us, we will be able to give God the glory because our petition has been accepted.
To my sister who feels depressed, I just want to remind you about the promises that God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and Psalms 34:17 reminds us of the nature of God. We are told that God is merciful and that He is a comforter. With that knowledge how can we feel depressed? I want to encourage you to keep on believing that God will bring you out of whatever situation. At times God allows things to happen in our lives for us to realise just how important it is to trust God and depend on Him. He is the only one who can remove this feeling from your mind. A counsellor may be able to tell you some comforting words, but after the session is over and you go back to the place that triggers those feelings, has anything changed? People can bring temporary relief, alcohol and drugs can bring you temporary relief but let me tell you this sister, only Jesus saves, this letter cannot save you, your medication cannot save you, only Jesus Christ the son of God can save you.
This might seem like obvious advice, but you would be surprised by the amount of people who do not actually follow it. You need to look forward, stop obsessing over the past, God has a bright future planned for you but you will never be able to appreciate it if you are obsessed with the storm. I am not saying that once you get out of the storm that you should just forget about the fact that you were ever there because that would not allow you to give God the glory for your deliverance or for you to constantly remember how far that He has brought you. What I am trying to encourage you is to stop with is the “what if’s?” Overthinking can often stop us from hearing God. If we are too busy planning alternative scenarios, how are we ever going to hear about the perfect reality that God is promising us? I want to encourage you to be like Paul in Philippians 3:13, he realises that by focusing on the past, he will not be able to live in a way that he will be able to see the heavenly prize that is in stall for us. Tell me this, is it possible for you to stand outside and see what is in front of you and behind you at the same time, without using any equipment that reflects or captures objects? No! So how can you overcome your feelings if that is all that you think about?
To my sister who feels depressed, I want to encourage you to love yourself. You are too precious to allow yourself to just quit. God designed us for a reason and He tells us that in Jeremiah 29:11. I want to encourage you to believe in His promises. Although you may not see a change immediately, trust that in God’s timing it will all work out. It gets hard at times when God’s timing does not match up with our expected timing, sometimes we begin to wonder if it will ever happen, but there is a reason for everything that happens to us. You may not be in the season that you want to be in but you will get there, God says so. In the winter, when it’s windy and raining and my umbrella is turning inside out, I am longing for the sun although I am not sure about the exact day that the sun will shine again, I am able to be comforted by the fact that I know that summer definitely will come. Just like we know about the seasons, we also know that God has promised us that He will make a way for us and allow us to prosper, so although you might not be at that point right now, I want to encourage you to comforted by the fact God has already worked it out. Whilst writing this, I thought to myself, if it was sunny everyday would I still appreciate the Sun?
To my sister who feels depressed, this is my prayer for you. I pray that you will realise just how precious you are and that you can overcome these feelings. I pray that you realise that you are not alone and that you will be able to believe in God and have faith that He will bring you out of this season. I pray that you will look forward and stop dwelling on the past because you will able to be so much stronger when you stop allowing negativity to control your life. I pray that you will realise just how much God loves you and that you will meditate on the word of God daily to remind yourself of His promises. I pray that you will pray to God and present your requests to Him with prayer and petition. I pray that you will have a testimony to tell and that you will be able to thank God for removing this feeling. I pray that you will be able to love yourself and see the value in yourself. I pray that you will be able to surround yourself with positive people who speak life into you and do not try to hold you back. I pray that you will be able to remain strong and turn to God and that you will not look to find the solution to your problems in this world. God loves you so much, I just want you to know that and I pray that you realise that He has not given up on you and that He never will, He is just waiting for you to turn to Him and pour out your heart. I pray that you will see that there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable before God, God is able to mend broken pieces, God is able to make them stronger than they ever were. I pray that you will not allow this temporary feeling to control your life any longer because God will bring you through this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.