–by Nico Bougas

In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy. He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep. He couldn’t eat and he avoided his friends. The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition. Concluding that his patient needed to have a good time, the physician told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi. Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles. “You must go and see him,” the doctor advised. “Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown. He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.” “No,” replied the despairing man, “he can’t help me. You see, I am Grimaldi!”

Discouragement and depression touch the lives of many people. It is not unusual for even the most spiritual people to have their days of doubt. 

Even spiritual giants get depressed
Moses, on one occasion at least, was overwhelmed by his circumstances. After he had listened to the constant complaining of the children of Israel, he basically told the Lord, “I have had enough. Just let me die. I don’t want to deal with this another day.”

Elijah, after his contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, heard that Jezebel had put a contract out on his life. He was so overwhelmed by his circumstances, so discouraged, so uncertain, and so filled with doubt that he said to God, “Take my life.”

Even the great apostle Paul had moments when he was discouraged. He wrote to the church at Corinth, “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” – 2 Corinthians 1:8.

Depression is more common that you think
Jeremiah, the great prophet, faced it as well. He was ridiculed and harassed for giving out the Word of God. Because he was tired of the pressure he was facing, it made him want to stop giving out God’s Word altogether. He said, So these messages from the Lord have made me a household joke. But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!” – Jeremiah 20:8-9.

The great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, was prone to fits of depression and discouragement. He looked back upon dark hours in his own life and said, “I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.” 

You are not the only one
Perhaps you have been there. Maybe you have lived for a while behind closed doors. Many good people have. You are not unique and some people are more prone to depression than others. But you don’t have to capitulate to the dark clouds of depression.

The people who consistently manifest the greatest joy in life are those who will simply not be discouraged by their circumstances. As author Zig Ziglar says, “If life hands you a lemon, take the lemon and make lemonade.” Recognise that God is always with you – even in the middle of the most discouraging circumstances. Whenever you feel afraid, choose to trust God despite your fear. God may not change your circumstances when you’d like Him to, but He will always give you the encouragement you need to deal with them as long as necessary.

Keep holding on to God’s promises
You are not the only one who has ever faced doubt or uncertainty, or has been perplexed as to why God did not work in a certain way. We may be in the midst of God’s work and can’t see the big picture as He can. Keep holding on to God’s promise that He has an important plan for your life. Keep praying for the encouragement you need to fulfil all of His purposes for you.

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