I have felt a thick fog in my head of exhaustion and sadness. My body is heavy with fatigue and sadness a heavier cloak over top my weak shoulders. Each task is an impossible duty, even the ones that once brought me happiness.
I can’t explain where this comes from. It comes for an unwelcomed visit and leaves without notice. When it arrives, I am disheartened at the thought of enduring such sadness. When it leaves, I am on edge wondering when it will return. Knowing it has an end or that it’s through with me for a time fails to bring me relief because I know it always returns.
This is as close to depression as I know. I know you deal with it much more than I do. A friend of mine feels the pressure of depression more than I can fathom. Some of you, this is what you face daily. Depression is like heavy armour that adds weight and difficulty to every task.
In those tiring times of doubt and sadness, we can begin to think we are not saved. Something must be wrong, a true Christian wouldn’t suffer like this or with these thoughts. I know I did. One of the more severe times of struggle was during my last semester on campus at university. I laid in bed trying to silence my anxious tears of being condemned before God. I sobbed in my bedroom as I folded laundry, wondering if and how God still loved me in the midst of my agony.
God used friends in my life to guide me back to His Word where I found reassurance and confidence in Him. God renewed hope in my sadness, and though I still struggled with sadness, I found hope in Him clinging to persevering grace.
Defining Persevering Grace
“Christ is not the guardian of our salvation for just one day or even for a few days but He will care for our salvation to the end.” John Calvin
Persevering grace is the doctrine that says once Jesus saves you, He will never lose you. Once your heart has been changed and you are given Christ’s righteousness, nothing can change that. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NASB).
Jesus Himself declared that those who the Father gave Him He would not lose, but would raise up on the last day (John 6:39). If you are truly saved, if you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, you will never fall away permanently. Though we may stumble and turn our gaze away for a moment, Christ will not allow you to forever stray away. Once you are His, you are His forever.
Not only will God preserve us, but He will also bring us to completion: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NASB).
To have confidence in the fact that you are persevered by His grace, you must determine if you are a Christian.
How to Know If You Are Truly Saved
You can know if you are saved by checking your fruit—how you act, how you think, and what you say. What is produced in your life? As a believer who is saved by grace, taken from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God, you should strive for holiness and righteousness.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” John 15:1-8 NASB
As Christians, we should be characterized by righteousness. We have a new identity; we are hidden in Christ, we bear His righteousness, we have been made into new creatures for His glory. This should be evident.
Read Colossians 3:1-17. In this section, Paul tells the believers at Colossae that as Christians they have been spiritually resurrected from their deadness and rotting decay of sin to new life in Christ. Because of this, he calls them to put off their sinful ways and instead put on good works. These good works do not save them or change their determined status in Heaven, but instead give evidence of their salvation and new position in Christ.
Do your actions, thoughts, and words match up with your claim to be a Christian? We are never called to cling to false hope, but rather to test ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you are fighting doubt, don’t allow it to debilitate you, but rather wrestle with that doubt and see whether or not you are of the faith. Read 1 John; it’s only 5 chapters, and can easily be read or listened to in one sitting. Take note of all the proof John gives for Christians and compare yourself. Mark both the references to “children of God” and “children of the devil” to compare. My hope is that you come away with confidence in your salvation or a repentant heart.
Remember to Talk to Yourself
When I was a false convert, I experienced overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks. During that time, I felt like God had abandoned me. After months of fighting anxiety and doubt, I began to compare my life against God’s Word. Each time I could not stand tall. Each time I compared myself was a punch in my pride. I was not the “perfect Christian girl” I believed I was. Through talking to a mentor of mine, God brought me to my knees in repentance and submission to Him. Through my struggle with anxiety, God changed my heart and opened my eyes to the truth and saved me.
Since then, I have fought doubt at times during seasons of depression. My deceitful heart hisses at me that no believer would feel or think this way, that there is no way I am possibly a child of God, someone loved by Him.
In those moments, I have to make a choice: I can quietly listen, or I can fight back with the truth I know. Since then, I have studied the Bible more and I have treasured Scripture in my heart to fight back those doubts with truth. I fight with the power of the Holy Spirit to take every thought captive and make it obedient to the Word. Rather than allowing those thoughts to rampage through my heart and mind, I stop and ridicule them with the truth.
When my heart tells me I am no longer worthy of salvation, I remind myself that I never was but God saved me by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
When my heart says God has left me, I point myself back to Jesus’ promise that He would never lose me (John 6:39).
When my heart tries to shame me into believing I am stagnant and unusable to God, I remember how God uses that which is weak to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Never stop preaching the gospel to yourself. Never stop battling against those unruly thoughts. Take them captive with the Word of God. Show them to be the lies that they are. It would be useful useful to memorize Scripture (great practical suggestions for how to do that here) so that you have arsenal already prepped for the battle. Be ruthless in your attack against them, hiding God’s Word in your heart so that you are able to prove them wrong. This is a battle, but God will give you the ability to be victorious. A