If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

For the most part, whatever depression, despair and anxiety I’ve experienced has been self-inflicted, resulting from my destructive behavior. I don’t know your situation. All I can do is tell you of my experience and what God’s word has meant to me in it.

In my drug addiction, I was depressed and anxious because I hated myself and I hated what I was doing. The only treatment for that, was to stop using drugs. In my recovery, I was depressed and anxious, even though I was sober, because I was suffering the consequences of my addiction. My life was a mess and I was at fault.

In both situations – in my addiction and recovery – I continued to indulge in the same self-obsessive mindset that got me into my addiction. What do I want? How do I feel? What can I do to make myself feel better?

In my recovery, I stumbled on the principle spelled out in today’s passage: Giving to others improves my mental health. As I volunteered at the local jail and as I started recovery meetings, my focus turned from me to those around me, dramatically altering my mindset. Self-obsession over my mood was eclipsed with love for others. Giving and serving was the antidepressant that I needed.

I’m not suggesting that all mental health struggles are self-inflicted and I’m not suggesting those who serve others will never be depressed or anxious. I know good people who follow God and still suffer from depression. I am insisting however, that, in our self-obsession, we cause much of our own misery.

I am saying that in whatever my struggle – addiction, recovery, depression, anxiety – I am responsible to go to God, asking him what I must do with it. God, what is my proper response here? Is there something I must abandon? Is there something I must do? Whatever our struggle, the answer is always to turn from ourselves, seeking God, and doing his will.

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  1. Sarah says:

    Ironically, (or maybe not so much?) these verses match up with my current place in a Bible study. One thing that really stuck out to me in our serving of others is, where does our motivation come from? Are we doing it to make ourselves feel better? Do we desire the affirmation of those we are serving? Do we want something in return? Or (and hopefully this would be our answer) are we so overfilled with love for Jesus that we want to pour this out to others?
    I’ll admit that my motives aren’t always pure, but do find it more satisfying to serve others when they are.

    A good question to ask ourselves, “Am I ministering out of my need or out of the overflow if my own relationship with God?” – Beth Moore

    • Scott says:

      I was contemplating that as well. Is there a “good selfishness”? I always tell the guys in jail that I’m going there as much for me as for them. Not for the world’s affirmation, but for how God uses it to keep me on the right path. I’m good-selfish in my faith and recovery in the sense that I do what it takes to stay sober.

      That being said, there is of course, a foul motive, one that pursues only me and my pride. As you said, motive matters.

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