Fighting Depression with Thankfulness

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: 
for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5 KJV

Some of my favorite memories and best life lessons come from the decades I spent working high in the treetops. This morning as I was struggling with the Winter blues and feeling overwhelmed with doubts, I remembered fighting with a heavy limb directly over my head that I was cutting while suspended sixty feet above the ground. My options were limited and the consequences of failure high, but then my foreman called up to me, “Just get mad at it Pete!” His advice got my attention just long enough so I could focus my energy on the solution and not the problem. A tree limb was not what David was struggling with in today’s verse, but his advice sounds a lot like something my old foreman would have approved of. With every reason to be afraid and a laundry list of problems facing him, David decided that the best place to begin was his own soul. He just gets mad at it! “Hope thou in God!” he cries. “Stop whining! Praising God is what your job is, so let’s get with it” (Okay maybe I stretched the Hebrew a little thin here, but you get the idea!) Sometimes we just have to read ourselves the riot act. Our soul is always looking for an easy way out of problems, but no matter our situation or how long the journey, we have to remind ourselves from time to time that God has not left the scene. He is still worthy of our praise, and able to help us. Our job is to be thankful, even if it means getting mad at the situation so we can focus again and put our trust completely in Him!

I enjoyed this recent devotional testimony from Join Eareckson Tada on how she fights off depression. Her battles are far more severe than most of us are facing and I love her idea of making a list of things to thank God for. We are all fighting the same enemy and there is nothing he hates more than hearing how great our God is. So, “Get mad at it!” if it helps. Join David in telling your soul to get with it! You just might be amazed how God will answer and come to help in ways we never dreamed!

Jesus Must Not Like You Very Much!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

As some of you know who follow this blog, I served most of my ministry as a lay pastor (as in didn’t get paid). But far from being a problem, the lay pastor situation gave me opportunity to serve as an associate at a small Brazilian church for 14 years, and a volunteer chaplain at a large nursing home. Some days, it was like the Clark Kent/Superman scenario, where I rushed home to shower and change clothes, then hurried out to hold the Wednesday afternoon services at Allied Skilled Nursing. I loved serving both at church and nursing home, but it was at my secular job, that God taught me the best lessons. So, let’s rewind 30 years to a day when I was mowing lawns. My home state Connecticut could be named after a Native American word meaning, “Land full of rocks!” Practically every lawn we mowed had at least one large granite boulder to mow around. One very nice property in particular, was blessed with an abundance of enough stones to build one of our famous New England stone walls. My friend Noel, who just started working with us, was not familiar with our properties and so he accidently grazed over one unseen stony protrusion after another. Finally, He stopped, said a few choice words and stated, “You guys have the worst lawns I have ever seen!”

“Come on Noel.” I said trying to keep a calm tone. “These are the ones Jesus gave us.”

“Well then, Jesus must not like you very much!” Noel retorted, then restarted his machine and began mowing the back half of the property.

Now, I know Noel’s opinion isn’t proper theologically, but I have often felt a lot like him! Some days it feels like other folks have nice easy lawns to mow. They don’t have rocks to mow around or hidden outcroppings lurking just beneath the tops of the long grass. Sure, I know that Jesus Loves Me Because the Bible Tells Me So, but there are some days I wonder how much He likes me! The answer I have discovered after whacking a number of rocks in my 71 years, is that God allows rocks to mow around because He does care. He loves us so much that He has given us the chance to go back time and again to difficult people, hard places and sticky situations until we remember where the rocks are. Then we can give Him thanks, in every situation as we learn to mow around them!

Photo by Bryce Carithers on

A Thousand Thank You’s

 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers. Philemon 4

Thankfulness is a lesson I am still in the process of learning. Maybe, like Martha, I am overburdened with the pots and pans of life clanging in my ears, that I too easily pass by the quieter people who are nearest and dearest. It is far too easy to dash ahead to the next goal, the next project or chore, and to simply flick on the television and relax at day’s end without a moment to say thank you. So, this morning, before I rush out the door, let me say “Thank you!” and “God bless!” to the 1,000 people who for one reason or another have followed this blog. We are on a journey together, following the footsteps of the one who gave thanks and blessed the bread and the cup that He passed around the table to us. When we eat the bread and drink that cup together, we remember His death until He comes. Let’s begin this new day and new week to be thankful for those He has placed in our lives and treat one another with grace, respect for our differences and kindness.

Photo by George Dolgikh @ on