Mar21WedMarch 21, 2018
This week is an off-week for those reading only The Imperfect Disciple. So, we will return to Gospel Wakefulness and look at a few thoughts author Jared Wilson has concerning depression.
When Wilson speaks of depression, he speaks from first-hand knowledge. His trial with doubt and discouragement surfaces regularly in his books, blog posts, and podcast. I’ll leave it with you to look into that further should you desire to know more about him and his struggle.
I’d like to reflect on one of the pieces of advice he gives to those battling depression, doubt, and despair. The subtitle which headlines this section says it all: Defy Yourself.
Wilson begins, “The depressed self tries to take over. Don’t listen to him. Talk to him. Yes, those who fear for your stability may think your depression means you’re crazy. Risk confirming their suspicions by talking to yourself! You have Psalm 42’s permission.”
Wilson is referring to the psalm in which David speaks to himself: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:11 ESV).
Wilson then quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones from Lloyd-Jones’s book Spiritual Depression. I think that entire quotation is worth sharing here. Lloyd-Jones writes:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but there they are, talking to you. They bring back the problem of yesterday. Somebody’s talking. Who’s talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment in Psalm 42 was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: “Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you. . . .”
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet priase Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God’.”
Wilson’s commentary on the excerpt from Lloyd-Jones is also worth considering:
The depressed person must defy his depressed self. Stop listening; start talking. Don't blather. Don't mumble. Take hold of yourself and preach! Proclaim glad tidings of great joy. (This is not the same as positive thinking or "word of faith" theology's false doctrine of the tongue's power. That is magic. This is preaching the sufficiency of Christ.) Tell yourself that you are loved by God, that Christ has died in your stead, that the Spirit lives in in you, consecrating you to God and guaranteeing your salvation. Inform yourself that Jesus is your defense attorney, that he pleads his blood in response to every charge brought against you. Tell your depression that its days are numbered, and even if it should—God forbid—last till your dying breath, it will thus be vanquished for all eternity while you escape to everlasting joy. That's thumbing your nose at it! It won't win. Christ won, so Christ will. You will outlast your depression, because Christ in you, the hope of glory, will outlast it.
I think this advice—preach to yourself—is great advice no matter what you are battling. Whenever your “self” speaks unbiblical lies to you, stop listening and start preaching. Though I have never battled with despair the way Wilson has, it is helpful and encouraging to hear that preaching to oneself is one strategy for fighting.
What about you? Do you ever use this strategy? If not, I’d encourage you to give it a try for “whatever ails you!”