Many Christians struggle, more or less intensely, with feelings of despair and depression. They face spiritual pressure, which can take various forms.
Armor of God
In order to protect ourselves against this, it is necessary to take up the armor of God that is described in Ephesians 6:14-17. As Christians, we should realize that we need every single piece of the armor mentioned here, “that [we] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). We wrestle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). That is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against invisible spiritual beings that are hostile against anything that is connected to God: His Word, His purpose, His people.
The evil day
Paul urges us to take up the whole armor, “that you may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13). Every Christian experiences evil days, difficult times or periods of heavy pressure. Since three out of six pieces of the armor of God have to do with such days, with periods of despondency and depression, we will take a closer look at those:
The breastplate of righteousness
The breastplate of righteousness, that protects a vital organ: the heart. This breastplate is all about the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Romans 3:22), “for with the heart one believes and is justified” (Romans 10:10). This righteousness does not come from good works, but from faith and love – “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).
The shield of faith
The shield of faith, that protects our whole being. The shield referred to in these verses is a large oval shield that could cover a soldier completely. Using this shield of faith means being aware that we can trust God at all times. Our faith is a firm knowledge that He exists, and that we can find rest in Him. Putting our trust in God means that we firmly believe what His Word says about His love and His promises, and that this has a prominent place in our lives. This is more important than our own emotions, since these are unstable and often forget about the facts in God’s Word.
Redemption sets you in the hand of God
Our redemption is a fact. The word “redemption” actually means “buying back”. The precious blood of Jesus pays the price of a ransom, releasing us from bondage to sin and death. This fact is described in Psalm 107:2: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (NKJV). If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, remind yourself that you are no longer under the power of the enemy, but in God’s hand – from the moment you surrendered completely to Jesus Christ, so that He could be Lord over your life.
Use your redemption as a shield
If we use this fact of our redemption as a shield of faith, notwithstanding our unstable emotions, we are completely protected. If we love God and long to do His will, we will remain stable like a house founded on a rock remains stable in a storm (Matthew 7:25). Then we know that God will let all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
The helmet of salvation
The helmet of salvation, that protects our head – that is, our thoughts and our minds. If we put this helmet on, we dress ourselves with “the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9). “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24). So, first comes faith, then comes hope. If this hope is lacking, we don’t experience our redemption, our salvation, and we feel depressed and despondent.
Redirect your thinking through the Spirit
As soon as we take off this helmet, our thoughts will be harmed and we will be overwhelmed by our difficulties and concerns. If this happens, we need to redirect our thinking, and to focus on the glorious future that is awaiting us. To be able to do that, we need God’s Spirit, “so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Hold fast to the rock
It is so important to have this helmet of the hope of salvation on our heads “to hold fast to the hope set before us […] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:18-19). Our anchor is secured to the eternal rock. This anchor, our hope of salvation, not only gives security in this life, but extends into eternity.
Use what God offers you
God offers us these three pieces to protect us: breastplate, shield, and helmet. Let’s use them whenever the adversary attacks our thoughts and emotions. Then we will slowly but surely gain victory, by His Spirit.