There are people all over the world dealing with depression—or at least trying to deal with it. There are many underlying causes for depression and a variety of available treatments. Some are effective, but many aren’t. Some help temporarily, but they can never permanently remove the torment of depression.
No one is immune from depression or its crippling effects. People from all walks of life—doctors, lawyers, teachers, housewives, teenagers, small children, the elderly, singles, widows and widowers, and even ministers—suffer from depression. I believe the reason so many people suffer from depression is because they haven’t learned to deal with the disappointments that are a natural part of everyday life. Everyone on the face of the earth has to deal with disappointment, which can easily lead to depression, despondency, and even despair if it is allowed to persist.
A depressed person may feel sad and not want to talk to anyone or go anywhere, preferring to be left alone with the ever-present negative thoughts and sour attitude.
The despondent person, on the other hand, has similar symptoms of a depressed person, but the symptoms are much deeper, with dejection of the mind and a failing spirit. The despondent lose all courage, and a feeling of hopelessness quickly leads to despair.
Despair is different from depression or despondency. People in despair have given up, and they no longer want to do anything to help themselves. They simply don’t care anymore. People in despair are prone to developing an underlying rage, which could even result in violent action.
Recognizing the destructive effects of the process, we must understand the importance of dealing successfully with disappointment and depression in the early stages. The good news is that God can help us deal with it and even overcome it if we just ask for His help.
Once, as I was preparing to speak on depression, I saw very clearly that God has given us His joy to fight depression. As a child, I believe I was robbed of joy. For as long as I can remember, I lived as if I was an adult because everything in my life was so serious. I was brought up in a bad situation, surrounded by negative circumstances. I thought if I stayed serious, maybe I could stay alive. Obviously, with this type of attitude, I didn’t develop a bubbly, giggly kind of personality. I developed a serious attitude, and because of it, people sometimes misunderstood me.
Once I told one of my assistants that I needed to talk to her before she left work. My plan was to ask for her help in making preparations for an upcoming meeting, but because I had approached her so seriously, she thought I was going to reprimand her for something. She thought she was in big trouble!
That incident helped me realize that I had a problem. I knew my serious demeanor was alienating me from people instead of making me more approachable, so I began asking the Lord how He wanted me to deal with this “seriousness” issue. I really felt that the answer from God was simply to allow the joy that He had put in my heart to show more on my face. God wanted me to smile more!
Everyone knows how to smile. It’s one of the greatest gifts God has given us. A smile makes people feel good, and people look so beautiful when they smile. When the joy in your life is obvious, it rubs off on others. But when you keep God’s joy locked inside you and don’t allow it to show on your face, you’re depriving those around you of a pleasant and refreshing experience.
Most people really don’t understand how expressing joy will change their circumstances and, perhaps, the lives of others. Living your life with the joy of the Lord will chase off negative, depressing circumstances. I never would have thought that smiling was such a serious matter, but God spent several months trying to get this point across to me. Expressing joy through the calm delight of smiling brings good things into your own life and shares the joy and light of the Lord with others.