Everyone experiences times of frustration and distress over unfulfilled hopes and dreams. When things don't go according to our plans, it is normal to feel disappointment.
But we must be careful how we deal with that feeling, because disappointment is the beginning stage of depression. If we remain in a state of disappointment for too long, it can turn into discouragement, despair, and finally depression.
It’s normal to feel sad temporarily when we face hard times, but we must not stay sad. Just as we cannot afford to stay mad very long, neither can we stay sad very long. If we do, Satan takes advantage of the open door and pushes his way further into our lives, bringing more serious problems with him.
Don't Trust Your Thoughts and Feelings
Many times our number one enemy is emotions. We tend to be led by how we feel, but we must realize that feelings are fickle; they change from day to day. And because feelings influence our thoughts, we shouldn’t follow every thought that comes to our mind because our thoughts and feelings don't dictate truth to us.
For many years of my life, I experienced depression on a frequent basis. I would awaken many mornings with a little voice in my head saying, "I feel depressed." I believed this was my own thought, not realizing that the enemy was influencing my mind.
But when I began seriously studying God’s Word and getting closer to Him, I learned that I didn't have to follow every feeling and thought that I had.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
So I began to resist the thoughts and feelings of depression and say, "I will not be depressed." I learned to put on the garment of praise spoken of in Isaiah 61:3. Even though I didn’t always feel like praising God, I could still set my mind to take the thoughts of depression captive by thanking Him for who He is and all He’s done for me.
The truth is we don’t have to be controlled by our feelings. We will always have feelings, but when we do the right thing and don’t give up, our feelings will eventually catch up with our decisions. That's why God gives us the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
A brief period of discouragement probably won’t have a devastating effect, but long-term discouragement can lead to depression—and that’s a very serious problem.
The Cure for Discouragement
I've learned through my experience that you can't be hopeful and discouraged at the same time. So as soon as the devil attacks us with disappointment and we start feeling discouraged, we need to turn to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to fill us with hope.
The key to having a hopeful attitude is renewing our minds with the promises found in God's Word. We can claim the promises as our own and stand in faith, trusting God to help us overcome our feelings and move forward into better things.
I know it’s not easy, and we can't control all of our circumstances, but we don't have to let what happens today ruin tomorrow. We can actually turn things around by making a decision to let go of the situations that caused the disappointment and discouragement, and move toward the good things God has planned for our future.
The bottom line is being depressed about circumstances does not change them; it is a total waste of time and a thief of joy. So we must stop letting our feelings, thoughts, and past experiences rule us, and instead, allow God to give us a fresh plan, a new idea, a new goal.
You can learn to manage your mind and emotions by being led by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to us as our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby to remain with us forever (John 14:16).
Thank God, we don't have to be disappointed, discouraged, despondent, depressed or in despair. Jesus is not only the Way (John 14:6), but He is also our healer (Isaiah 53; Psalm 103), and the One who gives us gladness instead of mourning (Isaiah 61:3).