What causes despondency and its creatures?
Despondency arises from distrust of God, so it can be said that this is the fruit of little faith. But what is, in turn, distrust of God and lack of trust? It does not arise by itself, out of nowhere. It is a consequence of the fact that a person trusts himself too much, because of too high an opinion about himself. And the more a person trusts himself, the less he trusts God. And trusting yourself more than God is the clearest sign of pride.
The first root of gloom is pride
Therefore, according to Rev. Ambrose of Optina, “despair is a product of pride. If you expect everything bad from yourself, you will never get discouraged, but only reconcile yourself and you will repent peacefully. ” “Despair is the reprover of those who were in the heart of unbelief and selfhood: he who believes in himself and relying on himself will not rise from repentance from sin” (St. Theophan the Recluse).
As soon as something happens in the life of a proud man that exposes his powerlessness and the groundlessness of trust in himself, he immediately becomes despondent and despair.
And this can happen from a variety of reasons: from offended pride or from what is not done in our own way; also from vanity, when a person sees that his peers enjoy greater advantages than he does; or from the constraints of life, as indicated by Rev. Ambrose of Optina.
A humble man who believes in God knows that with these unpleasant circumstances his faith is tested and strengthened, as the muscles of an athlete strengthen in training; he knows that God is near and that He will not put tests to the test more than can be borne. Such a person who hopes in God never becomes discouraged even in difficult circumstances.
The proud man, hoping for himself, as soon as he finds himself in difficult circumstances, which he himself cannot change, immediately becomes disheartened, thinking that if he cannot fix what happened, then no one can fix it; moreover, he pines and becomes irritated because these circumstances have shown him his own weakness, which the proud man cannot bear calmly.
It is precisely because despondency and despair is a consequence and, in a certain sense, a demonstration of disbelief in God, one of the saints said: “In a moment of despair, know that it’s not the Lord who leaves you, but the Lord!”
So, pride and lack of faith are one of the main causes of despondency and despair, but still not the only ones.
St. John of the Ladder speaks of two main types of despair, originating from different causes: “There is despair resulting from a multitude of sins and aggravation of conscience and intolerable sadness, when the soul, because of so many ulcers, sinks and from the severity of them sinks into the depths of hopelessness. But there is despair of another kind, which comes from pride and an exaltation, when the fallen ones think that they did not deserve their fall ... From the first one heal abstinence and trustworthiness; and from the latter, humility and not judging anyone. ”
The second root of gloom - dissatisfaction of passions
So, as for the second kind of despair that comes from pride, we have already shown above what its mechanism is. And what is meant by the first kind, “derived from a multitude of sins”?
This kind of discouragement, according to the holy fathers, comes when any passion has not found satisfaction. As Reverend John Cassian writes, despondency is “born out of dissatisfaction with the desire for some self-interest, when someone sees that he has lost the hope born in the mind to get some things.”
For example, a glutton, suffering from a peptic ulcer or diabetes, would be discouraged because he cannot enjoy the desired amount of food or the variety of its taste; a stingy person - because he cannot avoid wasting money, and so on. Despondency is accompanied by almost any unsatisfied sinful desires, unless a person refuses them for one reason or another.
Therefore, Rev. Neil Sinaisky says: “He who is bound by sorrow is defeated by passions, because sorrow is the result of failure in carnal desire, and desire is conjugated with all passion. Those who have conquered passion do not own sorrow. As the patient is visible in complexion, so passionate exposes sadness. He who loves the world will grieve a lot. And whoever cares about what is in the world will always have fun. ”
As the despondency in a person grows, concrete desires lose their meaning, and the state of mind remains, which finds precisely those desires whose fulfillment is impossible to achieve — this is to feed the despondency itself.
Then, according to the testimony of Rev. John Cassian, “we are subjected to such grief that we cannot accept even our dear faces and our relatives with ordinary kindness, and whatever they said in a decent conversation,everything seems to us untimely and superfluous, and we do not give them a pleasant answer when all the bends of our heart are filled with bile bitterness. ”
Because despondency is like a swamp: the longer a person dives into it, the harder it is to get out of it.
Other roots of gloom
We have described above the reasons that excite despondency in unbelievers and in unlikely people. However, despondency attacks, though less successfully, on believers. But for other reasons. St. Innocent of Kherson writes in detail about these reasons.
There are many sources of gloom - both external and internal.
First, in souls pure and close to perfection, despondency can result from leaving them temporarily by the grace of God. The state of grace is the most blissful. But in order that he who is in this state does not think that it comes from his own perfections, grace is sometimes removed, leaving his pet to himself. Then the same happens with the holy soul, as if midnight came in the middle of the day: in the soul there is darkness, coldness, death, and at the same time despondency.
Secondly, despondency, as evidenced by people experienced in the spiritual life, is caused by the action of the spirit of darkness.Having not been able to seduce the soul on the way to heaven with the benefits and pleasures of the world, the enemy of salvation turns to the oppressive means and leads to despondency. In such a state, the soul is like a traveler, suddenly caught in mist and mist: he sees neither what is ahead, nor what is behind; does not know what to do; loses vigor, falls into indecision.
The third source of despondency is our fallen, unclean, exhausted nature, which has become dead from sin. As long as we act according to pride, we are filled with the spirit of the world and passions, so far this nature in us is merry and alive. But change the direction of life, get out of the wide path of the world to the narrow path of Christian self-denial, take up repentance and self-correction — emptiness will immediately open up inside you, spiritual helplessness will be revealed, heart death will be felt. As long as the soul does not have time to be filled with a new spirit of love for God and neighbor, so far the spirit of despondency, to a greater or lesser extent, is inevitable for it. This kind of discouragement is most experienced by sinners after their conversion.
The fourth ordinary source of spiritual despondency is a shortcoming, much less the cessation of activity. Having ceased to use his strengths and abilities, the soul loses its liveliness and vigor, becoming sluggish; former occupations themselves oppose her, is discontent and boredom.
Despondency can also occur from various sad events in life, such as: the death of relatives and loved ones, the loss of honor, wealth and other unfortunate adventures. All this, according to the law of our nature, is fraught with trouble and sorrow for us. But, according to the law of nature itself, sadness must diminish with time and disappear when a person does not surrender to sadness. Otherwise, a spirit of gloom is formed.
There may be despondency from some thoughts, especially dark and heavy, when the soul is too indulged in such a thought and looks at things not in the light of faith and the Gospel. Thus, for example, a person can easily become discouraged by frequent thoughts about the untruth that dominates the world, about how the righteous here grieve and suffer, and the wicked rise and bliss.
Finally, various painful conditions of the body, especially some of its members, can be a source of despondency for the soul.
How to deal with despondency and its creatures?
The great Russian holy saint Reverend Seraphim of Sarov said: “It is necessary to remove despondency from oneself and try to have a joyful spirit, and not a sad one. According to Sirach, "the sorrow of many has killed, but there is no use in it" (Sir. 31: 25). "But how exactly can you remove despondency from yourself?
Let us recall the unfortunate young businessman mentioned at the beginning of the article, who for many years could do nothing with the despondency that gripped him. He was convinced in his experience of the words of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov): "Earthly entertainment only drowns the grief, but does not destroy it: they are silent, and again the grief, rested and, as it were, strengthened by rest, begins to act with greater force."
Now it's time to tell more about that particular circumstance in the life of this businessman, which we mentioned earlier.
His wife is a deeply religious person, and she is free from that gloomy, impenetrable melancholy, which envelops the life of her husband. He knows that she is a believer, that she goes to the temple and reads Orthodox books, as well as the fact that she has no “depression”. But for all the years that they are together, it never occurred to him to tie these facts together and try to go to the temple himself, read the Gospel ... He still regularly goes to the psychologist, receiving short-term relief, but not healing.
How many people suffer from this mental illness, not wanting to believe that healing is very close. And this businessman, unfortunately, is one of them.We would like to write that one day he became interested in faith, which gives his wife the strength not to succumb to despondency and to preserve the pure joy of life. But, alas, so far this has not happened. And until then, he will remain among those unfortunates about whom St. Dimitry of Rostov said: “The righteous do not have sorrow, which would not be transformed into joy, as there is no joy among sinners, which would not turn into sadness.
But if suddenly this businessman turned to the treasury of the Orthodox faith, what would he know about his condition and what methods of healing would he receive?
He would have learned, among other things, that there is a spiritual reality in the world and that spiritual beings are acting: good - angels and evil - demons. The latter, in their malice, seek to cause as much harm as possible to the soul of man, turning him away from God and from the path to salvation. These are enemies seeking to kill a person both spiritually and physically. For their purposes, they use different methods, among them the most common is the suggestion to people of certain thoughts and feelings. Including the thoughts of gloom and despair.
The trick is that demons try to convince a person that they are his own thoughts.An unbeliever or a little believer is completely unprepared for such temptation and does not know how to treat such thoughts; he really takes them for his own. And, following them, closer and closer to death — in the same way, the traveler in the desert, having taken the mirage as a true vision, begins to chase after him and goes farther and deeper into the lifeless desert.
A believing and spiritually experienced person knows about the existence of an enemy and about his cunning, knows how to recognize his thoughts and cut them off, thereby successfully confronting demons and defeating them.
A dull person is not one who has desires of despondency at times, but one who is defeated by them and does not fight. And on the contrary, it is not the one who has never experienced such thoughts that is free from despondency — there are no such people on earth, but the one who fights with them and defeats them.
St. John Chrysostom said: "Excessive despondency is more harmful than any demonic action, because even demons, if they are in power, then rule through despondency."
But if a person was deeply struck by the spirit of despondency, if the demons received such power in him, then the person himself did something that gave them such power over him.
It has already been said above that one of the reasons for disbelief among unbelievers is the lack of faith in God and, accordingly, the lack of a living connection with Him, the source of all joy and goodness. But the lack of faith is rarely something for man.
Faith in man is killed by unrepentant sin. If a person sins and does not want to repent and refuse to sin, then sooner or later he inevitably loses faith. Conversely, faith is resurrected in sincere repentance and confession of sins.
Unbelievers themselves deprive themselves of the two most effective ways of dealing with depression — repentance and prayer. “The extermination of despondency is served by prayer and incessant meditation on God,” writes the Monk Ephraim Sirin.
It is necessary to give a list of the main means of dealing with despondency that a Christian has. Saint Innocent of Kherson speaks about them:
“From whatever despair comes, prayer is always the first and last means against it. In prayer, a person becomes directly the face of God: but if, standing against the sun, it is impossible not to light up the light and not feel the warmth, the more light and spiritual warmth are the immediate consequences of prayer.Besides this, prayer attracts grace and help from above, from the Holy Spirit, and where the Spirit Comforter is, there is no place for despondency, there the grief itself will be in sweetness.
Reading or listening to the word of God, especially the New Testament, is also a powerful tool against discouragement. It is not in vain that the Savior called to Him all who were toil and burdened, promising them tranquility and joy. He did not take this joy with Him to heaven, but entirely left him in the Gospel to all those who mourn and are despondent in spirit. He who is imbued with the spirit of the Gospel, ceases to mourn dismally: for the spirit of the Gospel is the spirit of peace, tranquility and consolation.
Divine services, and especially the holy sacraments of the Church, are also great healers against the spirit of discouragement, for in the church, like the house of God, there is no place for it; the sacraments are all directed against the spirit of darkness and the weaknesses of our nature, especially the sacrament of confession and communion. Removing the burden of sins from himself through confession, the soul feels light and cheerful, and accepting the brush of the body and blood of the Lord in the Eucharist, feels revival and joy.
Interviewing people rich in Christian spirit is also a remedy for discouragement. In the interview we generally emerge more or less from the gloomy depth of the inner, into which the soul plunges from despondency; except thisby exchanging thoughts and feelings in the interview, we borrow from talking with us some kind of strength and vitality that we need in a state of despondency.
Thinking about comforting things. For the thought in a sad state either does not work at all, or whirls around sad objects. To get rid of gloom, you must force yourself to think about otherwise.
Self-employment with body work also drives away despondency. Let him begin to work, even reluctantly; let him continue to work, although without success: from the movement, first the body comes to life, and then the spirit will also feel cheerful; thought among labor will turn invisibly away from objects that were depressing, and this already means a lot in a state of despondency. ”
Why is prayer the most effective remedy against despondency? For many reasons.
First, when we pray during despondency, we are fighting against the demon who is trying to plunge us into this despondency. He does this so that we despair and depart from God, this is his plan; when we turn to God in prayer, we destroy the enemy's tricks, showing that we did not fall into his trap, did not surrender to him, but rather, use his machinations as a reason to strengthen the connection with God that the dev tried to cut off .
Secondly, since despondency is in most cases a consequence of our pride, then prayer helps to heal from this passion, that is, it pulls the root of despondency from the ground. After all, every humble prayer asking God for help — even as short as “Lord, have mercy!” Means that we recognize our weakness and limitations and begin to trust God more than ourselves. Therefore, each such prayer, even uttered through force, is a blow to pride, like the blow of a huge weight that destroys the walls of dilapidated houses.
And finally, thirdly, the most important thing: prayer helps because it is an appeal to God, who alone can really help in any, even the most hopeless situation; the only one who is able to give real consolation and joy and freedom from despondency.
“In sorrows and temptations the Lord helps us. He does not free us from them, but gives us the power to carry easily, not even to notice them. If we are with Christ and in Christ, then no sorrow will embarrass us, and joy will fill our hearts so that we will rejoice in sorrows and temptations ”(Rev. Nikon Optina).
What exactly prayers to read against despondency?
Some advise praying to the guardian angel who is always invisible next to us, ready to support us. Others advise that the akathist be read to Jesus the Sweetest. There is also advice many times in a row to read the prayer “To the Virgin of the Virgin, rejoice,” with the hope that the Lord will surely give peace to our soul for the sake of the prayers of the Mother of God.
But the advice of St. Ignatius (Bryanchaninov), who recommended to repeat the following words and prayers as often as possible, deserves special attention:
"Thank God for everything";
“Lord! I surrender to Your Holy will! Be with me your will ”;
“Lord! I thank you for all that you are pleased to send to me ";
“I accept the worthy of my deeds; Remember me, Lord, in your kingdom. "
The Holy Fathers noted that in despondency a person is especially hard to pray. Therefore, not everyone will be able to fulfill the big prayer rules at once, but everyone can say the short prayers that St. Ignatius pointed out, it is not difficult.
As for the reluctance to pray in despair and despair, we need to understand that this is not our feeling, but the universe infused in us by a demon specifically in order to deprive us of the weapons with which we can defeat it.
Prelate Tikhon of Zadonsk says so about this unwillingness to pray with discouragement: “I advise you the following: convince yourself and force yourself to pray and to every good work, although you don’t want to. Like a lazy horse, people are driven away with a whip so that it can walk or run, so we need to force ourselves to any business, and especially to prayer. Seeing such work and diligence, the Lord will give hunt and zeal. "
Of the four phrases proposed by St. Ignatius, two are thankful phrases. He explains himself why they are given: “In particular, thanks to God, the sorrowful thoughts are driven off; in the invasion of such thoughts, thanksgiving is pronounced in simple words, with attention and often - until peace is brought to the heart. There is no sense in mournful thoughts: they do not save from grief, they do not bring any help, they only upset the body and soul. It means that they are from demons and need to be driven away from them ... Thanksgiving calms the heart first, then brings comfort to it, and later brings heavenly joy - a pledge, an anticipation of eternal joy. ”
During despair, demons inspire a person to think that there is no salvation for him, and his sins cannot be forgiven.This is the greatest demonic lie!
“Let no one say:“ I have sinned a lot, I have no forgiveness. ” He who speaks so, forgets about Him, who came to earth for the sake of suffering and said: "... there is joy in the angels of God and of one sinner repentant" (Luke 15: 10) and also: "I came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance "(Luke 5:32)," teaches the Monk Ephraim the Syrian. As long as a person is alive, it is indeed possible for him to repent and receive the forgiveness of sins, no matter how heavy they are, and, having received forgiveness, transform his life, fill it with joy and light. And it is just this opportunity that demons are trying to deprive a person, inspiring him with thoughts of despair and suicide, because after death it is impossible to repent.
So "none of the people, even those who have reached the extreme degree of evil, should not despair, even if they have acquired the skill and entered the nature of evil itself" (St. John Chrysostom).
Prelate Tikhon Zadonsky explains that the test of despondency and despair makes the Christian more cautious and experienced in the spiritual life. And "the more this temptation continues," the more it will bring benefit to the soul. "
The Orthodox Christian knows that the sorrow of all other temptations is as much heavier as the redemption of those who endure with patience will receive more patience.And in the fight against despondency is granted the biggest crown. Therefore, “let’s not be disheartened when grief and sorrow happen to us, but, on the contrary, we’re more happy that we are on the path of saints,” says the Monk Ephraim the Syrian.
God is always with each of us, and He does not allow the demons to hit a man with despondency as much as they would like. He gave us freedom, and He also cares that no one takes away from us this gift. So at any moment a person can turn to God for help and bring about repentance.
If a person does not do this - this is his choice, the demons themselves are not able to force him.
In conclusion, I will give a prayer compiled by St. Dimitry of Rostov just for people suffering from despondency:
“God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of bounty and God of all comfort, comforting us in all our sorrow! Consolate each grieving, saddened, desperate, overwhelmed by the spirit of despondency. After all, every person is created by your hands, wise by wisdom, magnified by your right hand, glorified by your goodness ... But now we are visited by your Fatherly punishment,short-term sorrows! “You are compassionately punishing those you love and pardon generously and cast a tear on their tears!” So, punish, have mercy and satisfy our sorrow; exalt sorrow into gladness and joy dissolve our sorrow; surprise your mercy upon us, wondrous in the counsel of Vladyka, Incomprehensible in the destinies of the Lord and blessed in your deeds forever, amen. ”
What causes despondency and its creatures
What causes despondency and its creatures
What causes despondency and its creatures
What causes despondency and its creatures
What causes despondency and its creatures