When I opened my fridge 4 days ago, I was assaulted with a smell that I knew shouldn't be there. Something in the back of my refrigerator was beginning to rot.

But wait. I was busy and there was no time to clean the fridge. I ignored it. Maybe it would go away...

By yesterday, the smell was so strong that it was beginning to permeate through milk and bread, and even the lettuce came out initially smelling like rotting food. I couldn't put off the cleaning any longer; but I was totally surprised to find that the source of the stench was an unopened bag of kale...

Wait. I only brought that bag home four days ago, and kale is one of my husband's favorite salad ingredients! Nonetheless, my fridge would never smell sweet again unless I threw it out...

So many of us have a "stench" in our lives that shows its ugly head from time to time. This "stench" is oppression. In me, it generally manifests itself as depression, but it could also manifest itself as anxiety or fear or a host of other things. Now I am not a psychologist and do not pretend in any way to be an expert on these problems. I believe there can be a clinical root to these types of oppression, and it is important to see a doctor. It has been my personal experience, however, that this oppression may also be rooted, at least in part, in the spiritual realm. It is one of the weapons that the enemy of our souls uses against us.

For me, whenever depression begins to show itself, it does so gradually; and just like I was initially ignoring the bad smell emanating from my fridge, I often try to ignore it.

Ignoring my fridge didn't make it smell any better, however, and neither does ignoring my depression make it go away. Instead, it grows so strong that everyone around me can see that I have fallen, once again, into its vicious clutches.

Just like I had to take the time and effort to go through my fridge, I also need to sit down with God and allow Him to do a thorough "soul" search to identify the "root" of my depression. Generally speaking, it is a surprise to me that I have once again gotten entangled by unforgiveness, inability to relinquish control, disappointment, worry, or sometimes even anger at God.

Once I have found the root, however, I have to choose to give it up, to hand it to God. Remember that I really didn't want to throw out the kale, and in the same way. In a similar fasion, I often find I don't want to hand over whatever is at the root of my depression. After all, why shouldn't I be disappointed when my dreams come crashing down? Don't I have a right to be angry at ______ for treating me so unjustly? Shouldn't the fact that I just received a bad medical diagnosis be disheartening?

Nonetheless, it didn't matter that kale is my husband's favorite. I had to throw it out in order for my fridge to smell nice again. In the same way, whatever it is that is at the root of our oppression, we have to deal with it completely or it will continue to contaminate our lives.

Whatever the oppression may be, we need to recognize that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against: "...the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12b NIV). Here are some suggestions for dealing with these things from a spiritual standpoint:

1.  Understand the urgency with which we are admonished to: "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). This means we need to immediately go to God the moment there are signs of the oppression and allow Him to help us trace it to its roots.

2.  Once the root is identified, we are told: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6,7 NIV). We need to humbly give God the situation that causes us to worry or to be disappointed. We need to repent of our efforts to be in control and acknowledge the supremacy of the all-knowing, all-loving God of the universe. We need to let go of our anger and forgive.

3. Finally, we must: "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." (Eph. 6:10-11 NIV). It is only when we are free of the root of the oppression that we can stand up in the power of God's might and claim victory over it in Jesus' name: "But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:57 NIV; See also Ps. 3:8, Prov. 21:31).

Got a "stink" in the "fridge" of your soul? Go on a "stench" hunt! Allow God to help you trace it back to its roots, Give those roots to God, and then walk in the victory He has given you!

Oh, and when my husband sniffed that bag of kale, it's safe to say he didn't want it anyway...

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.