(Please note: It’s possible you’re suffering from depression because of a genuine physical problem. If you think this may be the case please go and see your MD. However, you should be extremely cautious and extremely slow about going on an antidepressant drug.)
Even the best of men is still a man at best. Even Christians get discouraged. The faithful preacher Charles Spurgeon once said: “There are dungeons beneath the castle of despair!” He knew this not only from what he had observed in the lives of other Christians, but also from his own personal struggles.
The Bible faithfully records both the triumphs and the struggles of believers. Moses was feeling overworked in Numbers 11:10-29, Elijah was feeling isolated in 1 Kings 19:1-18, David was feeling abandoned in Psalm 22, and Jonah was feeling angry in Jonah 4:1-11. Ponder their feelings again very slowly- overworked, isolated, abandoned, angry– have you ever felt this way? While these feelings are not an exact match for our modern concept of depression they do provide a close enough parallel for us to make some careful applications. We can glean help in fighting our own discouragement by seeing how God helped each individual.
God gave Moses helpers. Apparently Moses really was overworked! God listened to Moses’ complaint and called for men to help carry Moses’ leadership burden. God even placed His Spirit within each so they would be equipped for the job.
Are you overworked? Have you taken on too many responsibilities or overloaded your family with sports and recreational activities? Maybe your own personal discouragement is due to your wrong priorities?
God gave Elijah rest, food and the truth. Elijah had just come from an awe-inspiring victory on Mount Carmel. Now he faced a terrifying death threat from Jezebel. He began to believe he was the last faithful follower of Jehovah alive. God helped Elijah by feeding him, allowing him time to rest, and speaking to him gently in a quiet wind. God told Elijah the truth: “There are yet 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal!”
Sometimes we get depressed because we’re worn down and beginning to believe a lie. We’re tempted to think God doesn’t care and that life is not worth living. By correcting Elijah God set the example for us to look to the truth of God’s Word! Search your own heart. Are you feeling down because you have begun to believe something that just isn’t true? Maybe you need to get to bed earlier and spend more time meditating on the truth and less time mediating on the latest cultural trends.
God gave David a history to remember. David was facing immense pressure from his enemies. He looked around and no one was going to help him. He even began to wonder if God would ever help. He found encouragement by remembering how faithful God had been to David’s forefathers. David reasoned that if God had faithfully responded in the past He would do so in the present.
Has God helped you in the past? Remember those times when God came through for you and tell yourself the truth. God hasn’t changed He will eventually help you in His timing. Allow your emotions to respond to some good memories you have about your God!
God gave Jonah perspective. Jonah was depressed because God spared Nineveh, so Jonah went up on the mountain to mope and wait for God to act. God caused a plant to grow over Jonah and when it died Jonah was sad. God reprimanded Jonah for caring more about the plant then for the thousands of people in the city. Jonah had completely lost his perspective. How could a plant matter more than the survival of an entire city? Jonah had hardened his heart.
What about you? Are you depressed because your value system is messed up? Do you value the things God values or have you allowed your perspective to degenerate into worldliness?
A Christian can handle depression the same way God did:
- Get help when you’re overworked. Check your priorities. (Moses)
- Are you believing a lie. Check your belief system. (Elijah)
- Have you forgotten the past? Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. (David)
- Check your perspective. Are you really thinking the way God thinks about the situation? (Jonah)
Next Sunday night’s question: “What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?”