Finding Joy In The Midst Of Sheltering In Place

There’s a boatload of emotions that I’m hearing people express. Physical symptoms aren’t the only thing covid 19 has brought with it. People are struggling with feelings of loneliness, despair, frustration and depression. Believers and unbelievers alike are wrestling with a lot of painful emotions. How do we process this in light of the cross? Aren’t the fruits of the Spirit love, joy, peace, etc.? Isn’t God the Restorer of our souls? Then why are we still in pain?

For decades, I felt like a victim of painful emotions. Depression, anxiety, despair and loneliness. I had tried so many times to fight back, but every time, I found myself knocked back down, with my face in the dust. Finally, I decided it was easier to not hope than to have my hopes dashed again. So I decided to just stay in the dust. The enemy walked over my back, and I decided to let him. I stayed there until I could no longer compartmentalize the despair. It began to leak out everywhere. I longed for death so the nightmare would end. Heaven seemed to me the only solution to end the pain.

Things began to change when our daughter and her husband asked their small group to pray that God would heal me of depression. Hope came back into my heart. Hope that I could break free of depression on this side of eternity. Once again, I stood up and began to fight back. This time was different through. I didn’t look to human reasoning to protect me from painful emotions. I began to recognize that this was a spiritual problem. And spiritual problems need spiritual solutions. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says,

“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”

What are these weapons? We have a number of them…the name of Jesus, our testimony, etc. But the weapon that I picked up to fight painful emotions was the word of God. Ephesians chapter 6 teaches us about the armor of God. Beloved, we have got to get dressed for warfare. Verse 17 tells us tells us to:

“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The word of God is a power weapon of choice when we need to resist depression, loneliness, despair, and feelings of emotional desolation. When we speak the truth from God’s word, we come into agreement with truth BEFORE we feel it. The feelings will follow IF we persist UNTIL feelings that disagree with God’s word dissipate.

If you are weighed down with depression, anxiety, despair and loneliness, you are under a spiritual attack.

God has made a way for us to experience the fruits of the Spirit. We are still going to encounter heaviness, fear, rejection, loneliness, etc. These things still exist in the world. But...we do not have to let these feelings abide in our hearts. Nehemiah 8:10 says,

” Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

Why did Nehemiah tell the people this? It was because it didn’t come natural to the people of his day any more than it comes natural to us. We need to reach out and take hold of that which God has made a way for.

So, what is the first step? How do we do this in practical terms? My first step in resisting depression was to find my sword. I sought out some Bible verses that I could use whenever depression would begin to settle on me. I’d pull out my index cards where I’d written my verses. I’d read them, ponder their meaning and speak them out loud. When I did, the depression would leave. It might come back 5 times that day, but every time I’d pull out my verses and use them. Over time, those negative emotions began to come less and less. I always knew when I’d overcome the spiritual attack when my emotions came back to the place of well-being. It was in this place where I experienced the fruits of the Spirit. I experienced joy, contentment, peace.

If you’re looking for your “sword,” I’ve included a few that were helpful for me. May you never give up hope. May the joy of the LORD be your strength today. May you KNOW that you will never walk alone, for our Emmanuel will NEVER leave you or forsake you.

Arlene

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in His holy habitation. 6God settles the lonely in families; He leads the prisoners out to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:5-6       

“I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul” Psalm 31:7               (The Hebrew word for soul is “nephesh.” Our soul includes our whole self, our emotions, passions, desires and appetites.)

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made…The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down…You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:8-9,14,16

“The Spirit of the LORD God is on me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace…” Galatians 5:22a

“He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

“God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us…” 2 Cor. 7:6

“…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6