Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Encouraging the Downtrodden

I have had some hard days in the last few years. I don’t say this for sympathy. I have had godly encouragement along the way. I say this so that you can know how I was best ministered to in the midst of dark times. Although these three expressions of love are not an exhaustive list, I hope this will help you as you consider listening, speaking to, and loving those dealing with extreme sadness and depression. 

1-Speak Gently-
Often times a person struggling with depression is already pondering their own failures and are dwelling on the hard circumstances they are facing. A gentle word to them is a good and best approach. It helps the person be able to hear biblical truth. Encouraging the person with what he or she means to you or how you are thankful for your relationship are great and gentle ways to show care. Proverbs 15:1 - A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (ESV)

2-Speak Confessionally-
Since a depressed person is often struggling with an overwhelming sadness from their failures, sin, or the consequences of their sin, speaking confessionally or being willing to share your own faults and how you lean into Jesus and His grace can be a great help to your friend. James 5:16 - Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)

3-Speak Biblically-
A deeply sad person often has trouble thinking biblically. One’s mind can often default to “I know what is true, but I don’t care.” This is a hopeless place to be. Listen well and help your friend hear the truth by being gentle and confessional. Lift your friend’s eyes to the gospel that has already brought peace to our biggest problem (our sin) and can allow us to find peace during our other problems. Proverbs 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (ESV) Colossians 1:19-20 - For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV) 

This quote from Charles Spurgeon resonated within me: "I know, perhaps as well as anyone, what depression means, and what it is to feel myself sinking lower and lower. Yet at the worst, when I reach the lowest depths, I have an inward peace which no pain or depression
 can in the least disturb. Trusting in Jesus Christ my Savior, there is still a blessed quietness in the deep caverns of my soul."

Take care,
Pastor Ben

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