Gratitude Heals Depression
How can I be grateful when I don't feel that I have anything to be grateful for?
You can be grateful that you're not the first person who has felt this; you're not alone. In fact, the book of Psalms is loaded with what are called psalms of lament, songs of sorrow, crying out for God's deliverance. For instance:
For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite…. I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof. My enemies taunt me day after day. They mock and curse me. (Ps 102:3,4,7,8)
How many of us have lost our appetite, felt totally alone, or felt bruised by others' anger towards us? How many of us have friends who either are struggling or have struggled with depression?
The psalmists felt anguish, isolation, depression, fear, anxiety, worry … you name it. But they didn't stay there. They asked God to hear their cry and respond: "I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me" (Ps 120:1 NIV). They expected results while in the midst of their feelings. And thus they moved through these feelings.
It's so important to allow ourselves to feel, to notice what our feelings are doing to us, and then to allow them to change and leave us. If we feel stuck, then we can take more active steps to dissipate the negative feelings, replacing them with more gentle and peaceful feelings.
How? The intro to Psalm 77 is, "When Overwhelmed, Remember God's Greatness." So that's what the psalmist, Asaph, does. He remembers all that God has done for his people, even if he himself is feeling down. As he remembers, he finds reasons to acknowledge God's power and tender shepherding. That's gratitude. Being grateful is taking action.
Finding just one little thing that is good, right, happy, pure, gentle, beautiful does so much to start us on the path of gratitude and lift us out of depression. It could be as simple as noticing that the sun is shining, or that we're getting needed rain, or that you have a really comfortable bed, or that a particular song is soothing. Gratitude moves us out of depression.
Hopefully you now have a starting point from which to be grateful. If you're stuck, go to the psalms, find a friend to help you, turn to God to help you. Do something different that will encourage gratitude. Read the hot topics on gratitude on this website. Go for a walk in a nature setting. Look up, not down. Look outward, not inward. Be creative in finding reasons to be grateful. Then you'll feel grateful. And your life will change.