A Summary of Logotherapy

I received my BS from the University of Montevallo in 1981, and my major professor was Dr. Sanford Colley. He introduced me to most of the major theories of counseling and psychotherapy, and I found Existential Analysis (or logotherapy) to be the most intriguing. Upon recently rediscovering the writings of Dr. Viktor Frankl, I wish I had paid more attention in school!

This information is a compilation of my recent reading of three books:

Logotherapy was developed by neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. It is considered the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy” along with Freud’s psychoanalysis and Adler’s individual psychology.

The theory is based on an existential analysis focusing on Kierkegaard’s “will to meaning” as opposed to Adler’s emphasis of “will to power” or Freud’s focusing on man’s “will to pleasure.” Logotherapy is based on the belief that it is the striving to find a meaning in life that is the primary, most powerful motivating factor in life.

The name “logotherapy” was created based on the Greek word logos (biblically, this means “word” but Frankl emphasizes the word referring to “meaning”). Frankl’s concept is based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life. These statements are the basic principles of logotherapy:

  1. Freedom of Will: Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  2. Will to Meaning: Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  3. Meaning of Life: We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stance we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

In Frankl’s view, the spirit is the will of the human being. The emphasis is on the search for meaning, which is not necessarily the search for God.

Frankl wrote that it may be psychologically damaging when a person’s search for meaning is blocked. Positive life purpose and meaning was associated with strong religious beliefs, membership in groups, dedication to a cause, life values, and clear goals.

According to logotherapy, meaning is experienced on two levels: ultimate meaning and meaning of the moment.

  1. Ultimate Meaning, is found through participation in a universal order of being in which every person has a place. This type of meaning deals with questions, such as, “Who am I?” Ultimate meaning can never be comprehended in its entirety, only pursued to the best of one’s ability.
  2. Meaning of the Moment, is much easier to grasp. In most situations it is nothing spectacular, just the daily tasks awaiting us. Some moments offer bigger choices than others; some moments are subtler than others; none are repeatable.

According to Frankl, people discover meaning in life in three different ways:

  1. Work: by creating a work or accomplishing a task.
  2. Love: by experiencing something in life or encountering someone, through the quality of love.
  3. Attitude: by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.

On the meaning of suffering, Frankl gives the following example:

Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive without you?:” “Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.

Frankl emphasized that realizing the value of suffering is meaningful only when the first two creative possibilities are not available (for example, in a concentration camp) and only when such suffering is unavoidable – he was not proposing that people suffer unnecessarily.

Frankl developed a unique view of determinism to coexist with the three basic pillars of Logotherapy. Though Frankl admitted that man can never be free from every condition, such as, biological, sociological, or psychological determinants, based on his experience during his life in the Nazi concentration camps, he believed that man is “capable of resisting and braving even the worst conditions.” In doing such, man can detach from situations, himself, choose an attitude about himself, determine his own determinants, therefore, shaping his own character and becoming responsible for himself.

Within the domain which belongs such human sufferings, these conditions are in effect:

  • Despondency: Expressed in pain, guilt, and death, which comprises the tragic triad.
  • Despair: Giving rise to depression, aggression, and addiction, which constitutes the the neurotic triad.
  • Doubt and Confusion: Often caused by an inner emptiness when access to one’s spiritual core is blocked, is experienced as existential vacuum.

This existential vacuum is a general sense of meaninglessness and emptiness, an “inner void,” an “abyss-experience.” It manifests itself mainly in a state of boredom. No instinct tells him what he has to do, and no tradition tells him what he ought to do: soon he will not know what he wants to do. More and more he will be governed by what others want him to do, thus increasingly falling prey to conformism.

There are various tools the counselor may use in helping people using logotherapy. The major established techniques for intervention described in logotherapy are:

Self-distancing or Self-detachment – When clients present us with their problems or symptoms, the first step—after hearing their story—is to help them gain some distance from the burden they carry, and through which they often identify themselves. This distancing will provide a clearer vision for courses of action open to them or reveal areas of freedom still available to take a stand toward their conditions. Man is capable of detaching himself not only from a situation but also from himself. He is capable of choosing his attitude toward himself. Self-distancing is the capacity to step away from ourselves and to look at ourselves from the “outside,” possibly with humor.

Paradoxical Intention – The means that the patient is encouraged to do, or wish to happen, the very things he fears. It lends itself to the short-term treatment of obsessive-compulsive and phobic clients. Paradoxical Intention is a wish turned upside down. Patients are guided to wish exactly what as phobics and obsessives they have so frantically feared and so desperately tried to avoid. What we flee from tends to catch up with us, and the more we fight a fear the more we become its victims. On the other hand, if we wish to have happen what we fear and support our paradoxical wish with humoristically exaggerated formulations, the fear dissolves.

Socratic Dialogue – This technique is used to help persons use questioning to discover for themselves the meanings of life. Frankl believes it is the task of the logotherapist, not to tell clients what the meaning in their life is, but to elicit the wisdom that is hidden within the spirit of each person. One of the basic assumptions of logotherapy is that, in the depth of our spiritual dimension, we know what kind of person we are, what our potentials are, and what is important and meaningful to us. He states that ultimate questions of human existence are on the lips of every man.

Dereflection – Focusing attention away from the situation. It rests on two essential qualities of human existence, namely, man’s capacities of self-transcendence and self-detachment. The essence of dereflection is substituting something positive for something negative. When turning toward a new interest is successful or is rewarded, turning from intense self-observation is more likely to succeed. Dereflection is intended to counteract compulsive inclination to self-observation. Through paradoxical intention the person tries to ridicule his symptoms, while he learns to “ignore” them through dereflection.

I challenge the reader to find the above referenced books, which bring much clarity to the task of pastoral counseling and guidance.

Scripture to Deal with Stress

People react to pressure much the same way as does any metal that needs to be made useful. Stress can increase your ability to endure, but excessive pressure can break you. Your response to stress is critical. As you submit to God, he will reproduce the life of Christ in you, creating a person who is useful to his kingdom.

Here are some encouraging words from the Bible: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8–10).

Distress is a word used more than 100 times in the Bible to describe negative stress. It most often pictures the negative result that pressure and pain can have on the heart. The Old Testament Hebrew word tsarah is taken from the root word meaning “tightness” which means distress, anguish or affliction in a spiritual or psychological sense.

Due to a famine in Israel, Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt in an attempt to buy grain, but as they found themselves in a stressful situation, they reflected on what they had done to Joseph many years before. “We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21).

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Minding Your Mind and Emotions

The counseling process has been around a long time, and there are a lot of different methods, theories and procedures that are as different as night and day. Many begin with how the therapist views the nature of mankind, others focus on:

  1. The psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, understanding the Id, Ego and Super-ego and the role of the subconscious in our mental functioning, and using dream analysis to discover both manifest and latent content (hidden symbolic disguised messages);
  2. The transactional-analysis of Eric Berne tells us that life and relationships are full of scripts that run through our minds and these transactions are sent and received by the scripts of the parent, adult, or the child inside of us;
  3. Or the use of behavior modification techniques to increase or decrease the likelihood of a certain behavior;

There are so many directions one can take:

  1. The Rational-Emotive Therapy of Albert Ellis which focuses on how beliefs influence our behavior;
  2. The Client Centered Therapy of Carl Rogers which focuses on the belief that all people possess a strong drive toward personal growth, health, and adjustment (which he calls self-actualization);
  3. The Reality Therapy of William Glasser which focuses on the three Rs of facing reality, doing right, and being responsible;
  4. The Logotherapy of Viktor Frankl which focuses on mankind’s search for meaning in life.

Dr. Page Huff would be able to tell story after story of people suffering through life and the need for help in coping with stresses, hurts, pain, self-image, neuroses, psychoses, relationships, decisions…

The passage in Romans 12:2 challenges us to have a renewed mind. We are human and live in a fallen world so when Paul tells us that anyone in Christ is a new creation, the old is passed away and all things become new, we wonder why we continue with the same struggles, experience the same pains, and give in to the same vices as we did before we were saved. We are desperately seeking for a renewed mind, but how can we do it?

That which was available in the first century is still available to us today. With all of the science, technology, and counseling theories to help explain our thoughts and behaviors, sometimes getting back to the basics of Scripture can help a huge percentage of what ails us. Psychology has a definite place in our society, and is a great tool for helping people gain insight and awareness into the reasons for their behavior and thinking, but if we can get back to the time of the Bible to see how the spiritual side of mankind can help us cope with developing a renewed mind.

Why is it so important to renew your mind? Because of Proverbs 23:7 – “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” NASB

Skip has mentioned this before, but today I want to expand on the idea that emotions respond to a signal sent to them by the mind.

Here is a wife and mother:  “Why do I feel so much resentment toward Harold every time he comes into the house?”  Her life and marriage were being destroyed because of the powerful emotion of resentment.  Her emotions were being produced by the thoughts within her mind.

Or how about you driving down highway when suddenly a glance into the rear-view mirror reveals that a highway patrol car is closing on you with its blue lights flashing.  Your heart leaps into your throat.  You feel nervous, uncertain, and the palms of your hands begin to sweat (perspire).  You begin to pull over, all the time wondering what you did, and contemplating receiving a ticket.  As you begin to pull over, the patrol car pulls on around you and keeps going.  Then you realize that he is not after you and your emotions return to normal.  What has just happened?

  • You thought you were going to be stopped and issued a ticket.
  • Your emotions responded to that thought.

You placed a wrong interpretation on one fact, the patrol car coming up behind you with its blue lights on. You did NOT think of other reasons why it was happening.  (Maybe the car ahead of you was his target . . . maybe he had received a call and was being dispatched to an accident scene . . . Maybe the Krispy Kreme doughnut sign was flashing hot and ready . . .)

  • Your distorted view and interpretation of that one fact produced your emotion.
  • Your emotions responded to the signal that your mind sent them.

Listen Carefully:  It is not the actual event but your perception of the event that results in changes in your moods . . . your emotions.

  • You determine your emotions by the choice of thoughts you hold and believe. Something happens and then you THINK before your FEEL.
  • Emotions are not external entities which enter our bodies arbitrarily like a germ. They are a part of our makeup form the very beginning and rise up within us because of what we THINK.
  • So, your emotions, regardless of their nature, are the product of your thoughts.
    • You re in the driver’s seat . . . You select your emotions when you select your thoughts.
    • You feel the way you do right now because of the thoughts you are presently thinking.
    • The bottom line: change your thinking and your will change your emotions.

The Five Senses:  (Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) These are the doors to the mind . . . especially the eyes and the ears.

This is why we must be very careful as to what we allow to enter our minds through our eyes and ears. There is an old computer phrase that is very applicable to human beings… “GIGO” which stands for Garbage In Garbage Out.

The band Casting Crowns took that little children’s song and challenged the dads in our generation to stay pure by guarding ourselves from the negative things that enter our lives through the senses, “be careful little eyes what you see…” Garbage in, garbage out.

Let’s look at some biblical support for this concept:

  • Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
  • Galatians 6:7 – “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap.”

We must be diligent to lean toward purity, righteousness, and thinking, because sowing negative thoughts produce negative emotions, and negative behaviors and consequences.

Think Right to Feel Right:

Look at Proverbs 23:7 again – “As a man thinks within himself, so is he.” NASB

“How do you feel?”  The answer to this question depends on what you are thinking at the moment.

  • If you are thinking positive thoughts your response may be, “I feel great!” or “I have a positive outlook.”
  • On the other hand, if your frame of mind is negative you may say:
    • “I don’t feel so hot.” “I feel lousy.” Or “I’ve felt better.”
    • Like the old song, “Everybody hates me, nobody likes me, I think I’ll go eat worms…”

If you think negative thoughts, you WILL reap a crop of negative emotions.  If you think positive thoughts you will reap a crop of positive emotions. So, WHY do we dwell on the negative when there is an alternative?

Feelings Aren’t Facts!

In the police illustration at the beginning, the blue lights were NOT intended for you.  You felt at the moment that they were, but the true fact was that they were NOT for you.  Feeling they WERE for you did not make them be FOR you. Feeling are not facts.

Bill Bright, with Campus Crusade for Christ, developed a graphic called FACT, FAITH, FEELINGS Train. The fact is the engine, your faith is the coal car and the caboose is your feelings. Many times we reverse the order; we put our faith in our feelings. We say things like, “I just don’t feel saved” and we live in ambiguity and fear rather than conviction and assurance. The challenge is to change your thinking. Put your faith in the facts that we find in the Bible, and the fact that you have committed yourself to Christ. So when you don’t FEEL saved, it’s because of your improper thinking. Dwell on the FACTS so that you KNOW you are saved whether you feel like it or not.

Emotions respond to feelings whether the feeling is factual or not. Our minds will respond to the FACTS whether they feel like it or not.

Twisted Thinking:

Twisted thinking produces emotions that are also twisted. I worked with a fellow, a professional counselor, years ago and he told me about his philosophy of counseling. He mentioned that people with emotional problems will often listen to negative self-talk, which is rarely based on facts. They will play this tape over and over about how bad they are, how worthless they are, how trapped they are, how pointless life is for them. His goal was to help them to understand the truth (the facts) no matter how they feel. He needed them to get rid of their twisted thinking.

Twisted thinking is your mind processing thoughts, not actual facts or events, and producing emotional responses such as fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, and a host of others ailments.

Twisted thinking can create problems for people. We move out on what we FEEL is true rather than letting the facts guide us.

Ever heard the phrase, “Just follow your heart?” I sense that following your heart is the single worst piece of advice that someone can give to another person. Now that I have you thinking differently, and you have the emotional response to support it, let me explain. Check out Jeremiah 17:9, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” So, when you follow your heart, you will end up with heartache.

Failure and negative thoughts, which produce twisted thinking, need to be ejected from our mind. Let me give you a biblical example. Saul, before his conversion, is a great example of twisted thinking.

In his defense before King Agrippa, he acknowledged the results of his twisted thinking.  Acts 26:9-10 – “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.”

The prime motivation behind Paul’s actions against the church, Christ and his followers, AND his emotions, according to his OWN confession, was his thinking.  “I thought to myself that I had to do. . .”

He was the product of what he permitted to enter his mind, the negative and false teachings about Christ and Christianity.

  • He thought both were wrong and needed to be eliminated.
  • Later, through proper instruction which he accepted, he was able to straighten his twisted thinking.

Apply this principle to people in a denomination and you will better understand that their feelings and emotions are based on what they THINK is right, even if it isn’t according to biblical instruction.  Churches may adopt unbiblical stances on hot topics and politically correct issues, but deep down that position cannot be condoned or supported through proper exegetical Bible investigation.

When people’s thinking is changed, their feelings and emotions will also be changed.

People’s thinking is NOT changed by dealing with feelings, but dealing honestly with their thinking.  You are not going to change their feelings until you change their thinking . . . perceived facts. This is why it is so important to have a renewed mind (Romans 12:2).

My friend’s counseling goal was helping them to hear positive, rather than negative self-talk. Stop playing the tapes of the lies we tell ourselves about us, the world and other people, and the world around us. So, the discipline of counseling helps correct their stinkin’ thinkin’.

Sometimes we need help to understand why we have this negative self-talk, or what triggers the negative thinking, but you know, all of us can search for the truth to know exactly what the Bible says about us, our behavior and the world around us.  This is why the matter of biblical authority is so profoundly important.

  • John 8:32 – “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  • John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”

What About the Truth?

  • Romans 1:28 – The truth can be suppressed.
  • Romans 1:25 – The truth can be exchanged for a lie.
  • Romans 2:8 – Truth that is not obeyed leads to unrighteousness.
  • Romans 9:1 – Truth can be told and taught to others with the authority of the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:6 – Truth can be rejoiced in.
  • Galatians 2:5 – The truth continues, remains or preserves.
  • Galatians 3:1 – Truth will not be obeyed by foolish people.
  • Colossians 1:5 – The truth is the gospel of Christ.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:12 – Condemnation comes where the truth is not believed.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – The truth is involved in salvation.
  • James 3:14 – People lie against or cover up the truth.
  • 1 John 2:21 – The truth can be discerned from lies.
  • 3 John 3 – The truth can be confirmed to others and people can live by the truth.
  • 3 John 4 – The truth can be walked in . . . and lived.

It has been proven over and over again that the emotions do not know the difference between an established fact and an erroneous fact.

Illustration: Man received a phone call and thought the caller said his father was dying with a heart attack.  He got into his car and drove as fast as he could to his father’s house, only to be greeted by his father at the door.  The son almost had a heart attack himself.  His emotions were responding to thoughts the mind were holding as true, but were not actually true.  In his mind he believed his father was dying, thus his body acted accordingly.  Later he learned the caller had said “John,” instead of “Don.”  John was a friend of the family.

The Keys to Winning Over Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or the meat of the message, to Find God in Psychology.

We need to recognize that our thought patterns and habits can be changed for the better and we can experience release from twisted thinking, reactions and responses that eventually will defeat us.

1. Recognize that YOU are in control of your thoughts.  God created you with this wonderful ability to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

2. Don’t try to suppress your thoughts. Burying thoughts only reinforces the negative response demonstrated by your emotions. We must be alert to these thoughts as they come into our minds and say “NO” to them, and saying “YES” to a positive replacement.

3. When you are challenged by a twisted thought, ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this way?  What has triggered this negative thought?”  Determining the stimulus or root of the thought is a key to victory.

4. At the very suggestion of a defeating thought, eject it from your mind with a positive Bible verse. I don’t suggest this lightly, or because I’m a pastor. The New Living Translation of Philippians 4:8 reads:  “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Isn’t that a wonderful piece of advice  . . . It came from God through the Holy Spirit as penned by the apostle Paul. As a matter of fact, I plan to preach this passage on Sunday October 13, How to Fortify Your Mind.

5. Changing your thinking is an act of the will.

  • Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above.” Now are you beginning to see why the Bible teaches this? This imperative statement involves an act of the will . . . Who sets your mind . . .  YOU set your mind.
  • Colossians 3:5 – “Therefore, put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.”
  • Colossians 3:8 – “But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language…“
  • Colossians 3:12 – “Put on or clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

6. You cannot control what others say about you or think about you, but you can control how you react to it. If I’m having a bad day it is because I choose to allow the circumstance of that day to bring me down.

  • Proverbs 25:28 – “A man who does not control his temper is like a city whose wall is broken down.” Question:  What can happen to a city whose wall is broken down? It will be overrun by the enemy.

Our desire is not to rid ourselves of our emotions, but rather, learn how to control them with God’s help.

7. Pray to God for wisdom and strength.

We need to face life in the spirit of a man who lost his eyesight.  He rushed to the doctor.  The treatment by the physician made it possible for him to see again, but the return of his sight caused him to lose his memory.  He returned to the doctor.  This time he was treated for a loss of memory.  The man regained his memory but lost his eyesight again.  “Well,” said the physician, “we can’t cure both of them together, so you’ll have to choose between sight and memory.  Which will it be?”  The man answered, “Eyesight!  I’d rather see where I’m going than to know where I’ve been.”

It doesn’t matter that you have been plagued in the past with twisted thinking or warped emotions; the next step you take to handle it is what counts.

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How to Handle Depression

I found this article to be helpful and wanted to pass it on for those suffering from depression.

Depression has been called the “common cold” of mental disorders, and Newsweek (in 1987) estimates that it disrupts the lives of 30 to 40 million Americans.

Depression is too complicated to solve with a single answer. Gary Collins, in Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide (Dallas: Word, 1988), lists several major categories of causes for depression, and approaches to treating it:

  1. Biological factors
  2. Learned helplessness (sense of being trapped and unable to remedy an intolerable situation)
  3. Parental rejection
  4. Abuse
  5. Negative thinking
  6. Life stress
  7. Anger
  8. Guilt

People use the word “depression” to cover everything from disappointment over losing a baseball game to the terrifying gloom that drives people to suicide.

The Bible does not use the word “depression,” although it describes people whom we might call depressed. It certainly doesn’t mention antidepressant drugs. However, there are a few general principles I would recommend when trying to deal with depression:

Aim to work on the causes of your depression, not just the symptoms.

Scripture points to many issues of sin or conflict that can affect your emotions; most counselors would agree that depression can result from other underlying issues. Don’t just worry about the depression itself; check to see what other problems need attention.

Realize that you can’t base life on your emotions: Christians base life on truth, not feelings. Philippians 4:1 commands us to rejoice (whether we feel like it or not!). And James 1:2 asks us to “Consider it all joy when we fall into various trials.” Notice that James doesn’t tell us to feel joyful; he tells us to choose to think about your situation as a place where you can have joy.

Faith: Choosing to trust truth rather than your feelings may require a lot of faith. And if that is what we mean by asking if faith can solve depression, then faith may be enough in some cases. Trusting what God says rather than your feelings is certainly a more realistic approach to life!

Heed God’s Advice: Many people talk about “faith” and only mean a vague hope that God will somehow pull them through. That’s too nebulous a concept to be reliable. Many of the same people who claim to have faith keep plunging through life ignoring God’s principles for healthy living. If we reject the good advice that the Bible contains, we won’t escape the consequences, even if we have faith.

Is it right to use antidepressant drugs? Or is faith enough to solve the problem?

Chemical Imbalances: Some cases of depression may be caused by chemical imbalances. If that is the cause, then antidepressant drugs may be the answer. God has allowed mankind to learn about many medical tools, and He sometimes uses medicine to heal. There may also be some cases of depression so severe that medications are necessary to bring the sufferer to the place where they can tackle some of the other issues; such cases might require medication, at least temporarily. I know of no Scripture that forbids such use.

Unresolved Issues, Root Causes: Any medications should be used with caution. Virtually any medicine has some side effects. Drugs can mask the symptoms, allowing you to ignore root causes. Some people may use antidepressants to avoid approaches that require you to deal with other unresolved issues. It seems easier to pop a pill. A general rule of thumb is to try other strategies first, unless the depression is so severe that the person endangers themselves or finds themselves unable to participate in other therapies.

Depression is a complex area, and severe problems of depression deserve the attention of a pastor or other counselor. (Author: Dr. John Bechtle)

Helpful tips for depression:

  • Avoid being alone: force yourself to be with people.
  • Seek help from others: a trusted friend who has your back.
  • Sing: music can uplift your spirit as it did for King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23).
  • Praise and give thanks: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of
  • God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • Lean heavily on the power of God’s Word.
  • Rest confidently in the presence of God’s Spirit: “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5).

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God’s Covenant of Marriage

How does one go from a good marriage to a great marriage? A husband and wife must never lose their commitment to each other. This commitment to both your mate and your marriage goes deeper than romantic love. It empowers you to keep an unbreakable covenant with your marriage partner regardless of unexpected circumstances. Our covenant God says to us, “I will make you my wife forever,  showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.” (Hosea 2:19).

My Covenant Commitment

C = Commit to working through problems and not walking away (1 Corinthians 7:27).

  1. Decide together that divorce is not an option.
  2. Agree to communicate feelings honestly and lovingly.

O = Offer love to your mate even when you don’t feel like it (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

  1. Evaluate how your love compares to that described in 1 Corinthians 13. Substitute your name in the place of the word “love” in verses 4-8.
  2. Pray daily for those who have hurt you—forgive and forgive again, refusing to keep a record of wrongs.

V = View your marriage as God’s setting for spiritual growth (Proverbs 15:13).

  1. Realize that God did not create any one person to meet all your needs.
  2. While God is your ultimate need-meeter, see your mate as God’s gift to meet some of those needs.

E = Eliminate any emphasis on your rights (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

  1. Identify what makes you angry.
  2. Sensitively express your honest desires—”It would mean a lot to me if you would take out the trash.”

N = Nurture your identity in Christ (Philippians 4:13).

  1. Evaluate if your sense of self-worth is based on how your mate treats you.
  2. Acknow1edge that your true identity is in Christ, not in your mate.

A = Ask God to change you (Psalm 51:10).

  1. Evaluate what areas in your life need changing.
  2. Ask your mate, “Would you name one area in my life where you feel I need the most change?”

N = Nourish your extended family relationships (Exodus 20:12).

  1. Evaluate the tangible and emotional needs of your in-laws.
  2. Consistently look for the positive in your mate’s family.

T = Turn your expectations over to God (Psalm 62:1).

  1. Evaluate the unrealistic expectations you’ve had of marriage and your mate.
  2. Realize God can bring complete fulfillment to you regardless of your marriage partner.

Your Scripture Prayer Project: Ephesians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, I Corinthians 13:4-5, 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, Philippians 2:2-4, 1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5:25, Mark 10:9

 This covenant acrostic come from June Hunt [print_link] [email_link]