Beating Depression: Suzan Cartagena’s Story

If you suffer from depression, this post may be one of the most important messages you ever hear. It’s written by my dear friend, Suzan Cartagena. It’s actually a chapter from her book, The God Connection.

Suzan and I go way back. Our families were so close our children were disappointed when they found out they weren’t cousins.

But, actually, the Suzan I know now is not the same Suzan I knew then. Not even close. Don’t get me wrong, I love both Suzans.

But the Suzan who travels the world with her husband teaching God’s kids who they are in Christ is not the same woman who suffered from deep depression all those years.

As I’m writing this article, Suzan and her husband, Mickey Cartagena, are ministering in China, just one of the many countries where they travel to “equip the equippers” with the life-changing message of who they are in Christ.

I know this message will help you. Enjoy.

The following are excerpts from a chapter in Suzan’s book entitled, “Breaking the Power of the Lie.” In the first part of the chapter Suzan tells of her battle with her mind. She saw herself as weak and helpless to overcome, and that led to severe depression and the breakup of her 35 year marriage. Because of space, I couldn’t use the entire chapter. You’ll have to get the book! I’ve put ellipses to show deleted passages.

. . . After years of trying to overcome this weakness, I was mentally and emotionally worn out. After all, a good Christian should be able to resist these things and not allow them to control her life. The blow that broke me completely was when I found myself facing a divorce after thirty-five years of being married. Ours was not just an ordinary marriage. It was a marriage based on “Christianity and Christian principles.”

In 2001, my husband had gotten a job in Colombia, South America.  One day, he just came home and said he wanted a divorce. It was overwhelming. It devastated me. I completely lost all sense of who I was and how to go on with life. I didn’t see any future.

My husband was a dedicated Christian—one that really studied the Word. We had a good marriage. We had five wonderful children. People used to look at us and want what we had.

On the outside, everything looked great.

But on the inside, I felt this overwhelming sense of emptiness that I couldn’t explain, and I knew it was affecting my marriage.   Somehow I knew that my problem was spiritually related, but I had no idea what the real problem was.

. . .This became the turning point in my life! Up until then, I had been trying to do the impossible. I had been trying to live the so-called “Christian life” in my own power, and found out that it can’t be done!

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. Romans 7:18

Shortly thereafter, my friend, Jerri Betts, introduced me to Charis Bible College. She had been attending, and it had saved her life. I went to the school just to visit with her for a week or so.

I remember sitting there, dropping my pencil and thinking,

Did I really just hear Andrew Wommack say, “God is not mad at you. He knows that you did the best you could with what you had to work with. He’s really not disappointed in you!”?

Up until that time, even in my failed marriage, I didn’t blame it on my husband. I took all of the blame myself. I believed that if I had been different, it wouldn’t have happened. I was so disappointed in myself. It seems to me like divorce was worse than anything you could do. I had a black cloud over me.

After visiting school for a week, I decided that I really needed to go to Charis Bible College. I can say that it literally saved my life. I learned a few principles that changed everything.

One day I heard a scripture that just dropped me in my tracks:

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7 

If my future depended on my thinking, I was in trouble.

. . .I tried for years to change the way I thought, and nothing really seemed to help. I came to a crossroads—either God was not who He said He was, or I’d missed something. He promised peace, and there were things that should have been happening in my life that I was not experiencing.

I began to go back to the root of everything I believed.

The first real breakthrough I had was a revelation on faith. I had tried all my life to prove to myself and to God that I had faith.

The Bible says, “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God,” and yet I never could seem to come to a sense of rest.

The Holy Spirit showed me that faith is God persuading me that I can count on Him to supply all the needs I have in my life, and that He would bring me the evidence that I needed in order to believe.

. . . God began to do things that really began to persuade me.

For quite some time, even after my divorce, I believed that my husband would come back to me because he was a “good Christian”. It was too hard for me to believe that God wouldn’t fix my marriage somehow.

During this time at Charis Bible College, another student, Mickey Cartagena (he would later become my husband), was attending with his wife who had cancer. We would all pray together.

One Monday while we were praying, he said God told him that I would receive a report like the 10 spies came back with when Moses sent them to spy out the land. It would be an evil report of unbelief, and I wasn’t supposed to believe it.

On Wednesday, my oldest son called and said, “Mom, Dad’s getting married the day after tomorrow.”

This was an absolutely, devastating shock to me.

I thought, “Well, this has got to be that thing that Mickey was talking about. There’s no way that he can go through with it. Somehow, someway, God is going to change his mind.”

. . . On Friday, the day that he was supposed to get married, I woke up with the most awesome peace. God spoke to me and said, “The evil report of unbelief that you’re not supposed to believe, Suzan, is that you can’t take the land without this man.”

He said, “I will take the land for you. It doesn’t depend upon this man. Your sense of value is not based on him. I’ll take care of you. I’ll take care of your family. I’ll even take care of this man, but you just look to Me.” It produced such peace. I walked around in a daze all day because the power of God was so strong.

On Monday, I again woke up with this awesome sense of peace. I went to work at 4:00 AM at the Charis phone center. There, when someone calls in with a problem, all you can do is tell them what the Word says. This was instrumental in beginning to change the way I thought.

As soon as I got there, there was a caller who said her son’s best friend had died at 1:00 that morning. She didn’t know how her son would get over it. She didn’t know how it could be dealt with unless the man was raised from the dead. She said, “Can you pray with me?”

The only thing I was allowed to do was to say what the Word says. So I said what Jesus said to His disciples, “Freely you’ve received, freely give. Heal the sick, and raise the dead.” I thank you, Father, that You always stand behind your Word, that you are the guard over Your Word. We can look to You to manifest it when we agree with you.” We were just agreeing with His Word. After that, I hung up.

It wasn’t half an hour later, this same woman called again. It’s highly unusual for someone to get the same caller because there are so many workers in the phone center. But I got the same woman! She was screaming and shouting, “Oh, my gosh! When I hung up, the hospital called and said,

We guess he’s not dead.”

This was even more evidence to me. God said, “Suzan, it doesn’t matter what shape the vessel is in because I’m the one that flows through the vessel. When you begin to get a revelation of this, it’s going to change your life.”

God began to do things like this that took me from one word to the next until I began to look to God instead of to myself.

The whole time I was at Charis, I kept repeating, “God, I don’t know how to know You the way that You say to know You.”

John 17:3 says, “This is life eternal that they might know you, the only true God.”

 The word know in Greek means intimately, like a man knows a woman in the most intimate way.  I said, “God, I don’t know how to know you that way. I don’t even know how to know a man because, obviously, I failed there.” And again, He began to speak to me.

In my second year, for the first time ever, Charis had a mission trip to Bogota, Colombia. The woman my first husband married was from Bogota! God said, “I want you to go on this trip.” It seemed like an impossibility for me, but I had been asking the Lord to help me know Him.

I woke up with a revelation from Hosea 2 that said, “You’ll come to know me in the land of your wilderness. There, you will come to know me as husband. You will sing like you did in the days of your youth.”

And I did! I truly began to know God on that trip to Bogota.

I found out that it wasn’t about just going to Colombia to get over a man. I went to Colombia with Jesus as my husband! He said, “I’m going to prove Myself to you. I’m going to court you there just like a man would court a woman.” It was a honeymoon with Jesus!

. . .

In all these little things, one by one, God began to prove Himself to me. He persuaded me that I could count on Him—especially that He would provide all the evidence that I needed in order to believe!

In the scripture at the beginning of this chapter, 2 Timothy 2:25, repentance simply means to change your thinking, and that change has to come from God. Slowly, one revelation at a time, God began to reveal to me the things that we have been talking about in this book. I began to understand the difference between the two voices, and God led me through a spiritual exercise program that set me free!

I began to realize that all the problems I had were connected to my double-minded thought life.

And I was addressing it in the wrong way! I was focused on the power of my flesh to overcome and not on the power that God has to make me an overcomer. I was sin and self-conscious—not God-conscious.

God spoke to me, and I understood that the battle was not mine to fight!

…Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show you today; … The Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:13-14

The battle would not be won by me screaming at the devil and trying to change my emotions. It would be won by me simply agreeing with God’s Word and allowing it to do what it was created to do.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 

 God wanted my life to be full of joy and peace, but the enemy wanted to destroy me.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

. . .When I began to understand that the Holy Spirit only made me God-conscious, it became easier to sort out the voices.

As soon as I recognized a wrong thought that was connected to negative emotions, I simply wrote down that thought and searched the scriptures to find out what God had to say about it.

At that point, I could say, “No! This is not what God says. This is what God says,” and then I would repeat what God said about that particular issue. All I had to do was plant the Word-seed. I didn’t have to worry about whether my emotions agreed with the God-thought because it was God’s job to make it grow.

. . .

I spent years entertaining destructive thoughts. It became a habit, and it took time to break that habit. I had to run to the safety of God’s Word over and over again. At first, it didn’t seem to be working. My emotions were still out of control. But slowly, one day at a time, I begin to experience a freedom that I had never known.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. Proverbs 18:10 
 The position that I had as a son of God became my strong tower. He became the source of everything that I needed, and when I put my expectations in His ability to supply rather than in my ability to comply, I began to feel safe! . . .

Visit Suzan and Mickey’s website at:

Thank you!