Last week, I surveyed twitter followers by tweeting a question, asking people what they would most want us to discuss on the “Life Matters” Blog. The purpose of the blog is to research and discuss what the Bible says about the issues that many of us face every day. So, I wanted to find out what some of the biggest issues that we as a whole face. The truth is that many of the responses we received reflect issues, which at their core, are things that people have faced for thousands of years. Just as the book of Ecclesiastes says in chapter 1 verse 9, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” The longer people live and the more they study history, the more this reality is understood and confirmed. Many people falsely identify the Bible as an archaic collection of writings by men who were somehow less cultured because of the times they lived in or because of the message they proclaimed. Should the constitution become less relevant simply because of the amount of time that has passed since its origin? Absolutely not. How much more then should the Bible, not one iota of which has been proven false, be held to the highest regard for counsel in our lives. The Bible is “…living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) For this reason, the intent of any discussion on this blog is also to be Biblically based as “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word of God is my ultimate authority.
With that as my premise, I also want to give a disclaimer. The subject I want to discuss today is “depression”, but I am in no way claiming to give psychological, psychiatric, medical, or otherwise professional advice. For professional help, I would encourage you to seek the help of a properly certified Christian counselor.
Depression is something that many of us have been directly or indirectly affected by at some point in our lives. It doesn’t matter what your age is or where you live in this world. This is an unfortunate reality that crosses all boundaries in this sinful world: old/young, black/white, rich/poor, male/female, healthy/unhealthy, etc… it doesn’t matter.
I was personally affected by depression at an early age. No, I did not suffer from it myself, but my great-grandfather was the closest person whom I had lost before the age of 18. He had been suffering from depression and took his own life as a result.
Depression is also a burden that I have witnessed as it has taken its toll around me on the mission field. Everywhere I go people seem to be affected by depression. Shortly before returning to the US from Asia, where I had been living for 2 years, I received word that the mother of one of my close friends had committed suicide at their family home in a remote Himalayan village. Truly, depression is no respecter of persons as it is a worldwide reality of the human condition. If you are dealing with depression or know someone who is, please consider what the word of God has to say.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Major Depressive Disorder” is the main cause of disability in the US for people age 15 – 44.3 as it affects about 14.8 million American adults in a given year. There are countless causes of depression because of the painful world we live in, so in no way do I want to pretend I know what you’re going through, but I do want to try to give you encouragement from the word of the one who understands all things, the one true God of the Bible. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is my aim to mourn and weep with those who are also mourning and weeping (Romans 12:15). Please understand… if you are dealing with pain in your life, it is not my desire to try to just “cheer you up”. Proverbs 25:20 clearly recognizes that this does no good and could even be harmful to a person who has a heavy heart. However, I do want to speak the truth.
One of the most emotionally charged books in scripture is the book of Psalms. This book deals more with how man relates to God rather than how God speaks directly to man. King David, who God called a man after his own heart, wrote most of the Psalms. So, it’s important to note how David responded to many of the difficult life situations he faced. Some of the pain he faced was a result of his own doing. For example, David wrote Psalm 51 as a prayer to God after he had committed the destructive and heinous sin of adultery. Contrition was his heart’s response to God after such an offense. God cares more about a genuinely broken and contrite heart than insincere sacrifices, and though we may be able to put on a facade for others, we cannot fool God. Therefore, if you are depressed because of some wrong you have done, the best response is to fall on your face before God and cry out to him for mercy. This should also be our response before God if we have never experienced the joy of the gift of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There is a void in all of our lives that can only be satisfied through a relationship with our creator. If you want to know more about how you can have a relationship with God, please contact us.
Even in times of distress, King David responded with prayers of thanksgiving and gratefulness to God. David demonstrated his genuine faith in God by imploring divine intervention. He recognized that there was no other viable solution besides that which God could provide. The truth is that the source of lasting satisfaction is God himself, and David realized that. If we try to seek fulfillment anywhere else we are always bound for disappointment. It’s true that things like drugs, sex, money, self-reliance, power, approval of family and friends, food, entertainment, etc… may provide temporary comfort and satisfaction, but please understand that none of those things are a long-term solution and will always eventually lead to more pain and destruction if we look to them for our fulfillment. In reality, anything that we seek satisfaction from more than God is dangerous. This doesn’t mean that something like relationships are wrong, but if you derive your worth, identity, or satisfaction from these things rather than God, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment, confusion, and sadness. People will let you down, but God will never let you down. I agree with John Piper who said “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him”. David sought to draw on his satisfaction from God when he was walking through troubling times. When David was confused and hurt, he praised God for all of his blessings, namely the blessing of a relationship with God. When faced with attacks from a physical or spiritual enemy, David spoke truth about who he knew God to be. Throughout the psalms God is recognized as comforter, God of strength, God of praise, and God of truth, among other names. Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most iconic psalms of David as it is an example of rightly placed hope for provision and care, whether physical, mental, or spiritual.
A joyful heart really is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). It’s interesting to me that the Bible has always been right regarding various fields of science, and that the progression of scientific discovery has only confirmed the word of God. That is no different when it comes to psychology. This doesn’t mean just put on a fake smile and act like you’re joyful when you’re really down. Instead, let us seek joy from the source of all joy, the one true God. Read and become familiar with God’s word because it is the source of who God is and what he has done for us. We need to remind ourselves often of the truths of scripture, take these truths to heart, and continue seeking God for all the needs of our being so that we can enjoy true satisfaction and fulfillment. If you are already doing this press on with endurance. There is nothing more powerful than the spoken word of God (You may even consider listening to an audio version of the Bible during the day or at night.)
Ultimately, God wants us to be fully reliant upon him. This is an awesome position to be in because we’ll have a great view of what God will do when he shows himself powerful and does an awesome work in our life that can only be ascribed to Him.