This page in French (Français), Serbian
This page in French (Français), Serbian
My friend Louise heroically battles both depression and satanic lies that God has rejected her. It is no surprise that she is under daily attack when you consider that she is a highly talented woman whose art, poetry and prose can touch the entire world for the glory of God and the Gospel, provided she continues to resist the strong oppression she suffers.
Louise has discovered that to be best able to fight spiritual battles, she needs to take care of herself physically. She must watch what she eats and when she eats. Inadequate or irregular intake affects her mood and physical strength, which in turn can make her spiritually vulnerable. Likewise, she has learned that sufficient sleep is so important that, if necessary, she will even take medication to get it, rather than making herself vulnerable to attack. I would add that exercise is also important. It’s often hard to motivate ourselves to exercise and harder still when we are depressed but some studies suggest that exercise is as effective as antidepressants in lowering depression.
“Food has a lot to do with victory,” Louise told me, “This I know for a fact as I see my own actions when I eat things which do not agree with me or fail to eat when I need to.”
Does Louise’s observation sound unspiritual? Obviously spiritual factors like prayer, faith, fellowship, submission to God, and biblical understanding are critical, but the physical plays a role. After all, the same God who created the supernatural, created the natural.
When God made us with physical bodies with physical needs, did he pronounce the result inferior? Creator God proudly declared it very good. We must not exalt the physical over the spiritual, but to downgrade the physical is to insult our Maker.
Louise reminded me that Jesus fed thousands so that they would not collapse on the way home (Mark 8:3), and that through eating honey Jonathan was better able to fight the enemy than all those who fasted (1 Samuel 14:24-30). Other biblical examples abound. For instance, Jesus told us to pray every day for the provision of food (Matthew 6:11). The apostle Paul urged the men facing shipwreck to eat. “You need it to survive,” he pleaded, “Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head” (Acts 27:33-34). Then God answered his prayer that they all be saved. Elijah, afraid and depressed, flopped down under a tree and fell asleep. An angel appeared. That’s right, an angel gave him water and cooked him a meal. He let Elijah sleep still more and then gave him a second meal. This, combined later with a word from the Lord, was God’s answer to Elijah’s spiritual despondency.
Overwork – insufficient sleep and recreation – has caused too many Christian leaders to burn out.
The Bible even instructs married couples not to neglect the physical side of their union (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
In exceptional situations God may lead us to temporarily go without, but in general, neglecting the physical is a sign, not of being spiritual, but of straying from the God who created the physical.
Sadly, even fresh fruit today has less vitamins than it used to, and medical research indicates a strong link between nutritional deficiencies and depression. For example, depression is one of the first symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. To avoid depression, an adequate absorption of B-complex vitamins is essential. It seems, for example, that vitamins B9 (folic acid) and B6 (pyridoxine) each affect serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the very hormone targeted by anti-depressant medication. Other vitamin B deficiencies have also been linked to depression, as have deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, iron or potassium. Insufficient natural sunlight (normal artificial lighting is not enough) has repeatedly been found to be a significant cause of depression. This is believed to be why the shorter the daylight hours, the more suicide rates increase. Research has also indicated that exercise can be as powerful as anti-depressants in fighting depression.
For more about the medical/nutritional side of depression see Natural Cures for Depression & Anxiety-Related Illnesses
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