I’ve said so many times in this series on depression that I felt God had equipped me to go through the trial of my son’s emergency lung surgery and the battle with depression well before I actually had to go through it. For years, I’ve walked with the Lord, though certainly some times I was closer to Him than others. But God has been growing me steadily for a long time, and those years of spending time in His word, sitting under good teaching at church, and getting to know other Christians who were older and wiser really laid a firm foundation. So while I was shaken during this time, and at times I did despair, God pulled me out of it.
I had heard of taking our thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and I had done this at various times of struggle with sin. But never did I need to practice it so much as when I was dealing with depression. For a while, I let myself be completely submerged by my emotions and fear, but slowly God showed me that I didn’t need to let my joy be stolen. I could anchor my hope in His Word.
How to Take Our Thoughts Captive
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
When I felt fear, I would ask myself questions about this scripture:
What is true here? The baby is crying and I don’t know why. My emotions say it’s because he’s going to die, but is that true? No. Babies just cry sometimes, especially babies with reflux and lungs that are still healing.
What is lovely? God saved my baby from a lung defect.
What is excellent and praiseworthy? He carried us through this trauma and can carry us through any difficult things to come. I know from the Bible that God is good and His plan is excellent, even if it’s painful right now. I can trust Him for my tomorrows, whatever they may hold.
I tackled every dark thought in this manner. I kept scripture cards by my kitchen sink (still do) so that I can focus on God’s truth as I wash dishes and cook for my family. More often than not, my scripture card stack was flipped to a verse that addressed an emotion or struggle that I was dealing with, usually fear.
And God moved.
As the Holy Spirit and I aimed the Word at the dark thoughts I was experiencing, those dark thoughts were conquered one by one. Some days, I would fight this battle repeatedly, all. day. long. My spiritual muscles were getting a work out, and they were getting stronger every day as I exercised this habit of taking my thoughts captive and making them obey Christ.
Over time, the battles became less and less. By the end of the summer and as my 30th birthday approached, I felt that somehow, at some time, a fog had lifted completely. I felt I’d come through depression completely. I continued to have flashbacks until the time my third baby was born, a year and a half after our trauma, but over the past year, I haven’t experienced flashbacks at all.
But the lessons I learned during that ordeal remain:
I’ve learned how to fight spiritual battles.
I’ve learned how to take my thoughts captive.
I’ve learned that my emotions don’t have to win.
I still use these lessons regularly, on difficult days or when I experience trials.
Even now, as I write this, I think of a loved one with an unknown diagnosis that could be bad, and once again I’m taking my thoughts captive. As I think a fearful thought, I’m countering it with truth found in God’s Word.
And I have to rest in God’s truth. He is sovereign and He is good, even when I’m terrified. He can carry us through all the hard stuff of life that we don’t want to have to go through. Last year, He carried my family through my step-dad’s very sudden death at young age. Whatever it is He has called us to go through, He will equip us and give us strength to face it and come out of it more like Christ. Even if we are battle-weary and wounded, God can use those wounds to work in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Yes, I thank God for depression. It was a yucky, ugly journey that I didn’t want to go through, but He brought me out of it with a deeper love for His word and a compassion for other Christians who go through dark times too. If you’re still there, and you’ve been there for a long time, take heart. He is growing you through this journey.