What Should I Wear?
By Garrett Drew Ellis
The other day, someone at church asked my wife a rather serious question. They asked her if I was using drugs. While I never have been and never will be a drug user, the question seems to be quite understandable given my current situation. Let me explain why.
I suffer from bouts of serious depression and tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. When I am not in the right state of mind emotionally, people tend to be able to see it. At the time I am writing this, I am in one of those valley experiences that I have come to know fairly well. To the outsider looking in, I must look pretty haggard and worn down. Fortunately, that concerned church member has prompted me to remember a biblical principle I realize I need to be using right now.
Isaiah 61:1-3 reads “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me…to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of Joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”(NKJV)
In times of heaviness and depression, we have to remember to wear praise like a designer jacket or a good pair of jeans. Christ’s job description in Isaiah tells us that heaviness, depression and times of emotional negativity are spirits that weigh us down. But praise for His infinite blessings and awesome nature is what God wants us to exchange all of these things for, because praise wipes out negativity.
I have had to use this concept in the past and see the need for it now. I’ve let my present dark days block my view of God’s greatness. On days when life’s trials made me not want to get out of the bed, I often had to physically “put on” my praise by forcing myself to remember His goodness, the ways He helped me to overcome in the past and the assurance that He would do the same in the future. I had to remember that He is both the strength of my life and my strength in times of trouble (Psalms 27:1 and 37:39).
But being an imperfect individual, it is not always easy to do this. Even now, it’s hard to do, because until I actually put on the garment of praise, that spirit of heaviness does its job of weighing me down. It often feels as if I am fighting for my life; fighting to pull off that heaviness that wants to cling to my shoulders. That’s why it’s good to realize that in God’s eyes, the process is an exchange. If I would get past the sadness and the tears, if I would just let it go, if I could pull off the heaviness in order to trade it for something better, giving it completely over to God, He will supply a garment that was designed to for life abundantly.
So as a person learning to dress myself in the goodness of God, to any depressed or hurting person I would say this: the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). In God’s presence, joy is at its fullness (Psalm 16:11). When the darkness around us gets to be too much, we have to remind ourselves of all the light that is God. Wrap yourself in the garment of praise. If we don’t, we’ll walk around defeated for the rest of our lives and the good Lord knows that would be a major waste. I thank Him that He is such a concerned parent, not wanting us to freeze out in the cold, but wanting us to zip up and put on our praise.
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