4. Convert imagined and threatened losses to real losses

Imagined loses are distortions of reality. They are based on suspicions or lies that we have believed, or presumptions that we have made. The mind doesn’t like vacuums and will make assumptions when we don’t know the facts. Seldom does the mind assume the best. We don’t always act upon our assumptions, but if we do we shall be counted among the fools, because through presumption comes nothing but strife (Proverbs 13:10). People ruminate various possibilities and consequences in their minds until they are depressed. The answer is to verify these assumptions and then follow Peter’s advice, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:7,8).

Threatened losses have the potential for being real losses. They include such things as the possibility of a lay off at work, or a spouse who threatens to leave you. Such threats can precipitate a depression. I find it helpful to think what the worst-case scenario may be and then ask myself the question, “Can I live with it?” The answer is always, “Yes.” Essentially you are processing the threat in your mind as a real loss. The threat no longer has any power over you, and in that way you are not letting any person or event determine who you are, or keep you from being the person God created you to be. So when someone threatens you, respond the way Peter advises (1 Pet. 3:13-17):

Who is eager to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this in gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

These are growth issues, not terminal issues if you understand life from an eternal perspective. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, said, “My depression forced me, at the age of forty-five to stop and, for the first time in my life, examine my life.”

Dr. Neil

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