Hopelessness, Depression, Fear

By Staff Writer

Categories: Grief, Health

Issue:

We have been asked to address hopelessness, depression, fear, anxiety, worry, stress, grief related to death or loss, and more.

Response (staff answer):

While these are each distinct issues, there is an antidote that is effective in overcoming them—gratitude.

Gratitude has the power to lift us up and out of the pit of despair. It changes our view of the situation. How? Gratitude enables us to see what’s good, meaningful, even beautiful. The more we see and focus on the good that is going on, the less we are sucked into or mesmerized by the tragedy, depression, or negativity that seems to surround us. As our view changes, our experience changes, and we find ourselves out in the light. Gratitude helps us ascend into joy.

Now, when we’re feeling hopeless, it may seem difficult to feel grateful and simply impossible to expect joy. So let’s not worry about feeling grateful. Let’s simply express gratitude—speak grateful words. This isn’t just pretending, and it’s not just putting on a positive-thinking band-aid. It’s a way to transform our speech patterns, our thinking patters—to talk gratefully, to hear grateful words, to think thankful thoughts. And then, eventually, we feel grateful in our hearts. Then we don’t feel hopeless any more.

It sometimes takes persistence to exchange negative thoughts for grateful ones. It may even feel like we’re fighting our way out of the mire, trying to get unstuck. So we can start with a little step. We find one thing for which to be grateful: maybe the sun is shining. And then we find the next: we hear a song we like. Then the next: someone makes us laugh. Whatever it is, it is a life-link, and it will lead us in the right direction.

If we need help finding something for which to express thanks, we can always open our Bible to Psalms, many of which are attributed to the shepherd and then King David. He sang, “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (Ps 40:2 NLT). It’s comforting to know that others have felt the way we feel, have turned to God, and have found an uplifting answer.

The psalmists sing:

  • “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Ps 28:7 NLT)
  • “[Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death.] I love the Lord, because He hears My voice and my supplications.” (Ps 116:1 NASB)
  • “I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!” (Ps 118:21 NLT)
  • “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living” (Ps 27:13 NASB).

Having faith that we will see God’s goodness rescues us from despair. It may take a leap of faith. We may worry that we can’t do it. But God can. We can rest assured that God hears our prayers, answers them, and gives us victory. So we can rejoice: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (1 Chron 16:34 NLT). God’s love is always here, always present, even if we haven’t been aware of it. And we can be grateful for that. God is indeed powerful enough to bring us safely out of the pit and into the presence of Love.

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