Why Are You Such A Downer?
One of the most unpleasant things many people experience is depression. A common misconception I’ve not only fallen prey to but have also witnessed being demonstrated within the church is:
The Answer To Depression Must First Be Sought Through Medication Or Therapy.
While there may be nothing wrong with wanting what’s best for others, there’s something flawed in the way we look at and treat people who struggle with depression.
How Are We Looking At Depression?
When you hear the word depression in relation to a person, what do you think?
- He or she needs help.
- He or she’s crazy.
- What has he or she done to turn away from God?
- Is he or she possessed?
When you think about depression do you ask one of those questions? Have you heard them in association with others, even perhaps been asked them yourself?
The Truth About Depression
Depression doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race, color socio-economic status, etc.
Depression is more than a feeling of hopelessness or despair.
What Does The Bible Say About Depression?
Sometimes whether we want to acknowledge it or not, depression can stem from something as simple as not getting what we want. We can let something small completely shift our focus like King Ahab did.
1 Kings 21:4 New International Version (NIV)
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
When he didn’t get the land he wanted, he became sullen and even angry.
Jonah too grew bitter and angry when God showed mercy to the Ninevites. He was also upset over it so much he wanted to die.
Jonah 4:1-3 New International Version (NIV)
Jonah’s Anger at the Lord’s Compassion
4 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Jonah’s depression though had nothing to do with his own circumstances, but everything to do with what he wanted or expected of God.
Jonah 4:4-11 New International Version (NIV)
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die,and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh,in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
What Can We Learn?
When we don’t see God’s hand in our circumstances and don’t trust Him, we become candidates for spiritual and emotional depression. This doesn’t imply or suggest that depression can’t result from our own choices or life circumstances. Both are quite possible.
We need only to learn to trust God no matter how we feel. We need to do what is truly difficult, we need to:
- Understand the necessity to speak the truth
- Accept the truth
- Ask ourselves the hard questions
- Do some reflection and counsel our hearts
James 5:13-16 King James Version (KJV)
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.