Friday, 31 August 2007

Refusing God glory

Hard times, sad times, or even those niggling periods which don't really qualify but still upset me: these are opportunities to give glory to God. Too easy to withdraw into self, not turning to God from a well-founded suspicion that he won't affirm my self-pity. Selfpity is selfcentred sin: stubbornly refusing to honour God or give thanks to him.
I know I need You, and I know you deserve all glory and blessing and honour no matter what; but if life is like this, I'm going to mope about it. I'm not going to turn to You; I'm not going to give thanks to You: I'm upset. I'm going to make myself more & more miserable as if that'll get at You, even though I know I can't blame You.
I thank him for his grace which won't leave his child growing hard-hearted like this, but yearns jealously in me by his Spirit - giving more grace so that he once more has the grateful affection of my heart.

Opportunities to give God glory.


andrew c said...

That's very helpful. It's so easy to 'mope about', as you say, in a downward spiral of self-pitty. But even in those times, God is gracious, and breaks through in spite of my self-imposed paralysis.

To him be glory indeed.

SolaMeanie said...

It was so cool to see this post. I have often gotten heated reactions when I point out that depression is more often than not self-pity and ought to be resisted as sin. Here in America, we tend to classify everything as a "disease" or "disorder" rather than as a spiritual problem. I don't deny that there are genuine cases of depression that can be caused by a chemical imbalance, but I think so-called bi-polar disorder is WAY over-diagnosed.

étrangère said...

Sola, some of what we call depression may certainly be fought in this way, and I'm sure that too often we make it an excuse for sin as if we're subject to our state rather than putting sin to death by the Holy Spirit. However I'd want to take the depression seriously and advise on the sinful aspects of it, because of the real danger of killing your wounded. One fighting depression longterm feels quite guilty already, knowing that the gospel is true, acknowledging thankfulness to God, but unable to engage emotionally with that truth or that thankfulness and therefore feeling guilty for not being 'joyful'. Onto the one who is currently unable to emotionally register happiness, we must be careful not to load more guilt. I have had periods of depression where I pleaded with God for grace to fight self-pity, and sought to give God glory, but despite acknowledgement of this mentally, any feeling of thankfulness was stuck under a crushing re-enforced concrete block a mile square, with no view of hope. I could mentally agree that such a state couldn't have been forever and might not last forever, but I couldn't remember what it was like to not feel like that, nor envisage a future of being able to feel thankful, happy, encouraged, etc. Such are the genuine cases of depression you mention, and therefore we must be very careful in pastoring any depression, while not allowing each other to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

SolaMeanie said...

Very true, especially when one is caught up in a long term habit of thought, for lack of a better term. My own mother (age 84) is a good example of it. Her life growing up was difficult in the American South during the Great Depression, plus other issues. She is a believer, but her mind has a "natural" bent to the mournful or negative. I remind her of the Apostle Paul's admonitions about "taking every thought captive" and "whatsoever things are lovely" etc, but before long she's back in her old pattern of thinking again. When someone is really deep into this, it does take lots of patience to help them snap out of it, and great care so you don't wound them further.