As we continue our Spiritual Soldier Series we recently talked about spiritual warfare and evangelism. But one of the things I’ve rarely seen addressed with spiritual warfare is how to combat darkness and depression from the enemy.
Any Christian can experience depression and darkness from the enemy. Especially when you are involved in serious spiritual warfare you may have to know how to combat these things. This battlefield training will address spiritual darkness and depression. Let’s dive in!
- Pray for relief.
Many of these pastoral weapons I cover in this battlefield training you have probably heard before. But there may be one or two you have not heard of. Prayer is a powerful weapon, as I have discussed in previous battlefield trainings. And we underestimate its power when we are in the midst of our need.
Praying for relief from depression and spiritual darkness should always be our first step. It’s a direct line of communication to the One who can relieve depression, stress, and chase away spiritual darkness. By spiritual darkness I refer to the oppression of the enemy.
There are places of spiritual darkness, oppression from the enemy because he has been in that area for so long. Communicating with the King of the universe with all power at His disposal gives you a leg up on spiritual darkness and depression.
If your depression is caused by the spiritually dark places or a constant oppression of the enemy prayer can relieve your darkness and depression. Having constant communication with Jesus brings His light into your heart and life.
The Lord knows our needs before we ask them but asking Him as part of a confession process in which the need becomes real to us. I’m not referring to the need we have for His healing and to be rid of the depression. I’m talking about our need for Him.
Just because God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should or in the time frame we think He should does not mean it’s not the most powerful weapon in our arsenal. The more we pray, the better we become at hearing from God and connecting with Him better.
I’d like to say prayer doesn’t hurt your situation. But that’s underselling prayer. Prayer always helps your situation. Talking to God is always better than not talking to Him. Being willing to pray means you believe in God’s power to change your situation.
- Meditate on Scripture.
There are many Scriptures, much more than you would imagine, about depression and darkness. The Psalms is one of the best places to start. The psalmist often starts with a problem, like spiritual darkness or depression, moves through all the emotions of that condition, and comes to a place of trust in God for that situation.
David seems to have been one of the most depressed people in Scripture. With all of the victories and closeness to God he was brutally honest and genuine about his feelings and inner turmoil. He held nothing back from asking God to destroy his enemies to dealing with family members, like his sons, who were nothing like him spiritually.
And he poured all of it onto the pages of the Psalms. He goes from a place of complete depression and dejection to trusting the Lord and praising Him for His goodness. So this is certainly a good place to start when you have these conditions of darkness and depression.
Sometimes reading uplifting and encouraging parts of Scripture can put darkness and depression at bay. Reading Paul’s prayers, reminders of how Jesus is working His character in you through the Spirit, and action steps in the letters you can take can help.
I look for resources about depression that point me to specific Scriptures that deal head-on with it. Some books out there are full of subjects and what Scripture says about them. You will often find depression in these lists. It gives you a head start.
Consider a Bible study or a book that gives a Bible study on depression and darkness. All of these are things other people have already done, already gone before you to study and apply Scripture to depression and darkness.
Study Scripture about depression and spiritual darkness with other Christians who can bring a new perspective or light on passages you have looked at on your own. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to hear from other Christians and be encouraged by being among Christians who understand and are trying to help one another.
Always allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the pages of Scripture. He helps you understand what you read and apply it to your situation. As you read the Scriptures ask Him to guide your thoughts. Listen to the words He says in the impressions He gives. And always obey Him.
- Know where you stand.
It used to be that pastors and Christians would only talk about spiritual remedies for depression and darkness. Hopefully that is changing in the Christian community. When you are deep in depression and darkness brought on by spiritual forces or a physical or mental condition, some spiritual solutions only seem like platitudes that won’t work.
Even after trying all of these other suggestions and options a person can still feel like they are deep in their depression. They can’t always explain why they are depressed. The worst thing Christians can tell them is that if they are a Christian they should be full of joy and happiness because of what Jesus has done for them. Please don’t tell a depressed person who comes to you that. It does not improve their situation. It only gives them another reason to be depressed.
Ask yourself some hard questions to figure out where you are on the spectrum of depression and darkness.
- Do you feel suicidal?
- Where do your thoughts gravitate toward? Is it the same idea?
- Are you listening to the enemy?
- Do you need professional counseling or help?
- Is there a possible chemical imbalance?
These are only starter questions to get to the root cause of your depression and the darkness you may feel. If it is a spiritual issue some of the suggestions I have made will help. The Church has been reticent to talk about these issues.
If you don’t know where your depression and darkness come from you cannot get the victory you need. Jesus wants you to be free from depression and darkness. He wants you to walk in His joy and light. And these resource scan help you.
- Tell an accountability partner.
Another weapon against spiritual darkness and depression is to bring another person into the equation. You can’t fight these things on your own all the time. You will get worn down. Bring another soldier into the fight.
But not just anybody. If you are not already involved with an accountability partner it’s time to get one. When these things are exposed to the light, exposed to another Christian you trust, they lose much of their power.
You must choose an accountability partner that will help you. It would be nice if every Christian was equipped to be a good accountability partner. But this is not the case. There are Christians who are more mature and further along than you. And there are Christians who are further behind you, weaker brothers and less mature.
The last thing you need is for your issues, whether they deal with depression and darkness or not, to get around the whole church. It’s unfortunate that gossip, even from seeking more information on how to pray for someone has pervaded the Church.
So what are the qualifications for a good and godly accountability partner? Through trial and error I believe these are some of the best requirements you should consider before you choose your accountability partner.
- A mature Christian. Someone who can handle whatever you throw at them. They should be more mature than you are in the faith. This does not mean they are older than you. Just that they have matured in Christ further than you. They offer prayer support, resources, and a listening ear. They are not judgmental and they do not gossip about anything you share.
- A Christian of the same gender. As with counseling, a vulnerability to become enamored with or infatuated with the opposite gender will set you back instead of helping you. There have been many times when the opposite gender will project their desires upon you. Working with the same gender accountability partner may even allow you to open up about more sensitive and vulnerable issues. The only time this may not be true is if you are dealing with homosexual tendencies.
- A Christian who does not struggle with the same issues. You’re not looking for a social partner to understand your issues. You don’t want them to say, “I know. It’s so hard sometimes.” It’s not that you don’t need compassion from your accountability partner. But if they struggle with the same things it’s more likely the two of you will leave each other astray.
These guidelines are a good start on finding an accountability partner. I’m sure there are other criteria for fine-tuning the best accountability partner for you. But if you are dealing with spiritual darkness you don’t your accountability partner to say, “The devil’s been beating me up this week too.”
If you are dealing with depression you don’t want your accountability partner to list all the things that make him or her depressed. You need someone to encourage you, to guide you toward resources and Scriptures that will bring light and life to you.
- Seek professional assistance.
Pastors don’t want for themselves or their congregants to have to go somewhere outside the Church for help. Professional counselors have not even been considered in some situations. The idea of a chemical imbalance causing the depression has not crossed the minds of Church people in cases.
But I believe all that is changing for the better. The pastor is not usually equipped to deal with such dramatic cases of depression. Pastors are being trained better for counseling issues in many programs. But the pastor is not the all in all. Pastors need help from the local community.
Consider going to a Christian counselor or Christian psychologist. There are Christian professional counselors who can help you target the causes of your depression. And if it is simply a chemical imbalance they can get you the help you need.
Do not look down on this option. As long as you consider a Christian counselor or psychologist think about it as asking another Christian for help. It is not evil to seek Christian professional help for depression. Jesus provides them as a resource for you. They will understand and be able to help in ways your pastor may be ill-equipped to handle. And I say that as a pastor.
There are many weapons Jesus has given you to fight spiritual darkness and depression. Ranging from spiritual to practical weapons, you will find many good ones here to help you with spiritual depression and darkness.
And if you are not dealing with these enemies, you may be approached by a Christian dealing with them. As Spiritual Soldiers on the battlefield of spiritual warfare we must be looking out for each other. Victory is not just for us. It is for every member of the body of Christ. What are some other weapons you have found helpful for spiritual darkness and depression?
Now that we have discussed the weapons we can use against spiritual darkness and depression we moved to our next battlefield training on the do’s and don’ts of spiritual warfare.