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10 January

Finding Solid Ground When Your Husband is Sinking

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

I’ve been depressed, and I wouldn’t wish such anguish on my worst enemy. However, watching my spouse suffer from depression was excruciating. When my husband Carey fell into a deep emotional pit that lasted many months, I experienced a level of helplessness that frightened me.

Carey asked for ideas but then wouldn’t implement them. He blamed, complained and made endless plans about ways he could change his circumstances, while I tried to encourage him to instead change his mind-set. However, he was blinded by the fog of depression. He wouldn’t—or couldn’t—listen.

All the while, I attempted to take care of our two boys, manage our home, and work at a non-profit. I cried out to God regularly, and He provided a lifeline of support from scripture, worship songs, family members, and church friends.

At a certain point, I insisted Carey find someone other than me to talk to. He had barricaded himself from friends and others, and I had become his counselor, best friend, job coach, prayer partner, and lover. When he found a few trustworthy people to confide in, we both found more solid footing.

Satan, the destroyer, is an expert at stealing our joy, isolating Christians, and keeping us from the healing aspects of community. But we need other people in the body of Christ to help us find and maintain wholeness.

The enemy of our souls also attempts to sabotage our peace of mind by keeping us in bondage to fear, discouragement, and shame. Don’t let your struggle with mental illness—or that of a family member--drown you. Instead, begin to heal by talking with trusted friends and wise counselors.

I’ve learned by experience: He is the light, and He has provided a light for our darkest paths. He is the truth that sets us free from condemnation and hopelessness.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet refers to Jesus as a “man of sorrow, acquainted with many griefs.” Throughout his ministry, Jesus showed compassion to those who were lost, sick, or abandoned. His tears at the tomb of Lazarus and before his crucifixion demonstrate that he knew deep feelings of loss and empathized with those devastated by death.

In moments of profound despair, He has been and continues to be--to both my husband and me--a “Wonderful Counselor” and “the Prince of Peace.” Finding freedom from depression is not simple or easy, but it is possible. Carey and I are both testimonies to that fact.

The journey back to a healthy mind, body and spirit can be a long, difficult road. It may involve dietary and exercise modifications, medical help, and counseling. It might take longer than you anticipated, and it will most definitely feel lonely and frustrating at times. Nevertheless, you can make it.

For those of you with loved ones who are depressed, I offer three pieces of advice. These are truths I wish I had believed all along:

First, remember that you are not your mate’s savior. Listen to him, love him, and support him. Encourage him to get the help he needs, but realize that you can’t fix his depression.

Second, take care of yourself. Don’t let yourself get so sucked into your family member’s illness that you begin to sink under the water, too. Set appropriate boundaries and make time for the things that feed your spirit.

Third—and this may be the hardest one of all—don’t give up. Don’t let Satan kill your hope. Remember that he is the father of lies, and we must battle him with the Sword of Truth—the Word of God.

With Jesus, there is always hope.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for suffering with us. When we’re drowning in sorrow, give us the courage to tell others. Lead us to solid ground when our bodies and spirits are broken. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Truth for Today:
Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (KJV)

Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NIV)

Related Resources:
Read more encouraging devotionals in Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples, written by Carey and Dena Dyer.

Enter to win a free copy of Love at First Fight and download a list of helpful resources for depression sufferers on Dena’s website.

Reflect and Respond:
In what practical ways could you support your mate when he’s depressed, without sinking yourself?
Take time to unload your worries and sorrows through prayer. Then, through meditation on scripture, allow the Holy Spirit to minister peace to you.

Copyright  2016 by Dena Dyer. All rights reserved.

About the author: Dena Dyer is a professional writer, speaker, and teacher, as well as the author of eight books and hundreds of articles. Her most recent book, written with her husband Carey, is Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples. She and Carey have been married nineteen wonderful years and a couple more they don’t talk about. They live in Texas with their two sons (Jordan, 18 and Jackson, 12) and a spoiled dog, Princess. Dena loves to read, cook, watch British "telly," scour thrift stores for great finds, and spend time with family and friends.

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