Battling Depression with the Weapon of Worship

When I was walking through my darkest season of life, I came across a quote that said, “Worship will get you through the roughest times in your life because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.”

I knew this to be true because worship music had gotten me through some unbearable days.  I just hadn’t ever thought of it as a strategic way to shift my focus.

My season of darkness began with an ultrasound in which the technician reported cysts on our baby’s brain.  This was 14 weeks into the pregnancy.  The fear and uncertainty of the next 5 months threatened to steal my peace, my ability to sleep, my health, and my beliefs about God.  My husband and I blasted worship music and sang at the top of our lungs in what seemed like a way to survive the pain and fear.  Honestly, it wasn’t as much about lifting up God’s name as it was finding a way to fight overwhelming fear by petitioning the only One who could actually do something about my baby’s brain.

In the subsequent years, we struggled through the realities of a terminal diagnosis, seizure disorder, severe disabilities, and the fear and anxiety that came with each day.  Worship became my breakthrough. It became vital to my ability to function outside of overwhelming fear and sadness.

The other day, while listening to an interview with pastor, Louie Giglio, he described his own 4-month-long period of depression and anxiety that rendered him helpless.  He couldn’t leave the house.  He also couldn’t sleep.  This is a man who has led large churches and spoken to tens of thousands.  One day, he felt like he was dying under the pain of anxiety.  When asked what led him out, he was careful to say he needed physicians and still does, and he also added:  the weapon of worship.  He said he realized there is power in shifting the focus away from himself and to the faithfulness of God.  And even though sometimes the faithfulness of God cannot be seen while we are waiting for healing to come to fruition, worship reorders our thinking and the atmosphere around us.

“Worship pierces the darkness and leads us back into the light.  Worship changes the narrative.  Worry and worship cannot be in our mouths at the same time.”

In my own life, this looks like music (but it doesn’t have to be–worship is defined as the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for God). I have my favorite bands, but many mornings while firing up the coffee maker, I say, Alexa, play worship music.  Interestingly, when I was pregnant in 2007, the album I played over and over was Chris Tomlin’s, Arriving. One song in particular gave me more peace than any other.  In “Indescribable,” there is one line that says, “You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name.”  The fact that God knows the name of each one-in-a-billion stars, he knows their location, and he knows everything about them assured me that He also knew every mystery about my child.  There is nothing hidden from him.  Even though the doctors didn’t know, He knew.  It redirected my thinking over and over and over.

Giglio talks about the night he thought he might die under the weight of depression and anxiety.  Laying in bed at 2 AM, God reminded him of a verse he had memorized years before. “Where is God my Creator, He who gives songs in the night?”  Job 35:10

The next night at the same hour, he awoke with this song running through his mind, words he had never heard before:  “Be still, there is a healer.  His love is deeper than the sea.  His mercy is unfailing.  His arms, a fortress for the weak.”  Later, Louie Giglio’s friend, Chris Tomlin, would set those words to music in his song called, “I Lift My Hands.”

Colossians 3 tells us to set our minds and keep on setting them on things above, not on things of earth.  God knows that our minds can get caught up in fear and lies and panic.  Do not allow your fear to set the narrative in your mind.  Don’t allow the enemy of your soul to determine the soundtrack of your thoughts.  You can set your mind.  Keep on setting it on things above, the heavenly realm, what Jesus is doing in you and for you.  Worship him in song, in nature, in his creation.  Ask him for a song.  Pierce the darkness and let him lead you back into the light.  You have a weapon at your disposal any time you need it.  You have the weapon of worship.