I said that this would be a series about real life issues. I told you that I would be doing some teaching on the basis of my journey over the last 47 years of this 63 year journey. Before the divorce, when people would ask me about depression, I didn’t really understand it.
I personally didn’t understand what it would feel like until then. When we first separated, and then finally realized that divorce was going to be a part of my life, some of these depressing thoughts hit my head and I began to experience some emotions that I had only heard and read about before.
It was literally a roller coaster ride; but I learned some things. What I discovered and learned was this: Some Things I Believed In Were True, And Some Things Were Not True. All of the sudden I had to start living what I had taught. It was in that season that the Holy Spirit helped me sort through a lot of things.
It was like cleaning out a closet, or a storage room. Some of it was useful…but some of it needed to the thrown away. I had to believe and understand and do some things so that this normal depression wouldn’t become something unhealthy. It was a time of both demolition and reconstruction—in my heart, my mind, and my faith.
So, today, as we talk about depression, I want to continue to share some Biblical insights, some principles. These are some things that I have implanted in my life. We can have some issues in our lives that could lead to unhealthy depression and we want to make sure we understand and deal with these things. That’s what we’ll be talking about today. Let’s look at Job 6:1-11 (NLT). Job lived in the Dark Night Of The Soul. Listen to him as he describes it.
1 Then Job spoke again: 2 “If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, 3 they would outweigh all the sands of the sea. That is why I spoke impulsively.
4 For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrows. Their poison infects my spirit. God’s terrors are lined up against me.
5 Don’t I have a right to complain? Don’t wild donkeys bray when they find no grass, and oxen bellow when they have no food?
6 Don’t people complain about unsalted food? Does anyone want the tasteless white of an egg? 7 My appetite disappears when I look at it; I gag at the thought of eating it!
8 Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant my desire. 9 I wish he would crush me. I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me.
10 At least I can take comfort in this: Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One. 11 But I don’t have the strength to endure. I have nothing to live for.“
What do people mean when they say the Bible doesn’t speak about what we go through today? Have you ever felt like Job did here? Have you wondered what is inside of the mind of a depressed person? When depression reaches its fullest point of complete despair, all of the sudden we have this loss of clarity. And that Dark Night Of The Soul covers us in a deep sadness.
Our minds become confused and we don’t know what it true, right or good. Our mind begins to think the wrong thoughts; we become confused in our heart and mind. When we slip from normal depression, to below the radar kind of depression, our heart becomes hopeless. We begin to feel trapped—and our soul is on the brink of despair.
If you forget everything else I say, remember this: Depression Can Happen To Anyone, And Everyone Can Find Hope In Jesus. Depression Comes From Feelings Of Helplessness, Hopelessness And Feeling Alone.
If a person gets too deep into depression, they may attempt something at the darkest mode of depression, which is suicide. I don’t know where you are. Maybe you have attempted suicide or you know someone who has attempted it but didn’t succeed or maybe you know someone who did succeed. I don’t know where you are.
I do know Suicide is the darkest moment of depression. Today we’re going to talk about how to not get to that point or if you are already there, how to get back. But first, let’s get our minds in the right place. Some of you think that you have it all figured out—you don’t think we could ever get to that low point.
Job got there and so did I. It has been said that Suicide Is A Permanent Solution To A Temporary Problem. Some of you may be wondering why I’m talking about suicide on a Sunday morning. But this is a real issue for our culture, and who knows, maybe it is for some of you. Every issue we face—good and bad—has a Biblical response, and it’s my responsibility and duty to share that with you, regardless of how uncomfortable the subject makes you feel personally.
There are 2 causes of Depression; One Has Biological Causes. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain and there are many wonderful treatments that are effective in helping people move forward. This is not the kind of depression I’m talking about. Remember, this kind of depression is biological, though insurance companies do not treat is that way. We treat these people differently than those who have cancer or some other physical disease. And honestly, we shouldn’t!
We should not treat them differently than a person having any other disease. But there is another cause of depression that is not biological in origin. It Comes Out Of Our Experiences Of Discouragement And Disappointment. This is the form of depression we are looking at today. Allow me to sum it up like this. Depression Is A Negative Emotional State Of Feeling Sad, Discouraged And Dejected.
This emotional state can lead to a sense of hopelessness, helplessness and abandonment; a sense that you can’t get away from and can’t get out of. I believe that are two types of depression: healthy and unhealthy.
Healthy depression is when you have feelings of deep, inner pain. It is when you have actual feelings of pain, sadness and disappointment from a negative life experience. These feelings are normal and act as a warning sign in your life. A person in this state can still function as they normally would; just not as well.
Unhealthy depression is when emotional state leaves the person with an inability to function in the basic areas of life. One sign is the reduced ability to concentrate. I don’t know how many times that I would be working at the computer trying to work on a message and I couldn’t think clearly. It felt like I was in a fog. Another sign is to lose interest in most or all fun activities. Add to this, uncontrollable crying—sometimes outwardly crying, most times inwardly crying.
Not dealing with depression can fill us with feelings of hopelessness. We feel trapped. I can tell you that in my journey of life I had this sense of hopelessness that my life was over. I think there are some reasons that are not always cut and dry. Experiencing a major disappointment. Traumatic experiences that increase stress levels. The Bible goes on to talk about other important causes.
This may sting a little bit, but just walk with me. Some of the causes of this Dark Night Of The Soul are
- —lack of self-esteem and self-acceptance
- —Unrealistic expectations
- —Unforgiveness towards others and yourself
- —Unresolved guilt and shame
- —Physical fatigue
- —Substance abuse
- —Physical abuse
- —Health problems.
So, is there any hope for the hurting? Okay, now that we’re all depressed—Here are some things I want to share with you. First Truth:
1. Depression Is A Normal Response To What Is Occurring In Your Life.
This is where Job is at. Look at what David said in Psalms chapter 6:2-6—
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long? Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
David understood that this was a normal thing. It could affect anyone at any time. Even the Bible hunks—Moses, Elijah, Jonah, King David, the Apostle Paul and even Jesus. They all had these stories where they understood these lowly thoughts of depression.
You mean Jesus had sad thoughts—times when he didn’t like what was going on? Listen to his words in Matthew 26:38 as he is waiting to go to the cross. My soul is very sad and deeply grieved so that I am almost dying of sorrow. That’s Jesus. It’s a normal thing. It’s not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. Some of you need to hear that. But, if left unchecked it can distort our view of life. We see ourselves differently.
We see our life differently. We see God differently. Perception is reality in the eyes of the beholder, isn’t it? Second Truth:
2. Depression Is Not A Sin. It Is A Symptom.
I’ll say it again. Depression is not a sin. It’s a symptom. It wasn’t a sin for Job. It wasn’t a sin for me. Depression is a gauge like looking at your car gauges when your oil light comes on or how fast am I going or if the engine is overheating!
Healthy depression is a great gauge to say, “There are things in my life that I need to understand.” Sometimes it will point to sin that I committed or that was committed against me, unforgiveness or abuse, things you are doing to cause the problem. It points to the problem.
This depression is not a sin; it’s a symptom that leads you to the problem so that you can deal with it. And sometimes, those problems are both biological and physical in nature. There are times when this body goes haywire. Whether the problem is spiritual or physical—depression is a symptom, not a sin. Third Truth:
3. Depression Is Something You Go Through. It Is Not A Destination!
Some of you have been living as a depressed person for years and years and I want to share with today that there is hope, grace, love and a way out of it. Depression is not dead end road; there is a way through it. Depression feels like a dead end road with no room to turn around.
God did not design life to be a prison sentence. But depression will make us echo the words of Job: But I don’t have the strength to endure. I have nothing to live for.
But depression can become a destination, a prison, it we cannot find the way to overcome it. You can continue to move on. You can overcome depression. And it is here in:
Your Next Steps
1. Get The Right Perspective. In our life something happens to us—A D-Day invasion—and it’s OK to say, “Why me?” But when we stay there, even when justified, it compounds the problem. The “Right Perspective” means the Biblical world view of life. The whole world does not revolve around you.
And God never promised that your life will be healthy, wealthy and wise. We live in a world that has problems; in a world that has difficulties. We have to get the right perspective of this world we live in and get the right perspective of who we are. Life will not always be easy but understanding who you are will help you to continue to move on.
2. Lean Completely On God. Let the truth of God completely change your mind. Let the completeness of God hold you. Rest in His truth. When the darkness creeps in around you say, “I can lean on God because I can trust Him completely.” When a D-Day invasion takes your legs out from under you, God is not some crutch that only helps you to hobble along.
God wants to make you whole through and through. It may be that God will send you to a doctor or therapist. It may be that medication is ordered. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if He does. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed that I take an antidepressant. Our complete trust and hope comes from leaning on God. That is only way we are going to make it through. When something negative happens, you can say, “You are in control, God. You are in control and I lean completely on you.”
3. Love Yourself. Do you know people who are always focusing on their weaknesses and on the mistakes they have made in the past? In my own experiences, low self-esteem and low self-acceptance kills us from the inside out. God loves you unconditionally and He created you special just the way you are.
So put your shoulders back and say, “I am special. I was created and I am loved by my Creator. I can love myself not because of who I am but because of who God created me to be in Jesus.” Yes you can love yourself and you are supposed to. This way, you can have a healthy self-esteem and you’ll accept yourself for who you are in Jesus.
4. Serve Others. We will never find inner peace more than when we are helping other people. You should try it sometime. That’s a Biblical concept, friends! Serve other people. It’s really true, that when you lose yourself for another for the cause of Christ, you really find yourself.
The breeding grounds for depression are those feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and abandonment. And here in this moment, God reminds us that we are NOT helpless, NOT hopeless, and NOT abandoned. He is right here, right now with us.