I began thinking yesterday after I wrote the blog, and then a friend mentioned something to me that made me really delve a little deeper into it. Even though for some in the Christian faith depression can be a taboo subject there are examples of many in the Bible who suffered great despair and I would venture to say even depression.
David a man after God’s heart showed his despair in many of the Psalms. Crying out to God in Psalm 13:1-2
How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
David asks a question that I have been known to ask myself, “How long?” How long is this feeling of __________________(insert feeling here) going to last and why am I feeling it? God never left David, but David felt like He had.
Moses grieved of his people when he came down from the mountain top and the Israelites had lost their minds (really who thought a golden calf would be a good idea?). Moses had come down after speaking with the Lord to find his people in complete chaos and sin, who wouldn’t be depressed?
Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet was constantly rejected by his people and left alone to his own devices which could most assuredly leave a person feeling defeated and despondent.
Paul when speaking in 2 Corinthians 1:8 said, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; ”
Jesus even showed his anguish in Mark 14:34-38
34 And He said to them, My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch. 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will. 37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Job whom we know to have suffered great things even asked in Job 3:11
11 Why did I not die at birth,
Come forth from the womb and expire?
Now if anyone had a right to despair, other than Jesus, it was Job…geeze the dude never caught a break. He suffered more affliction than I ever want to see in 10 lifetimes. In Job 3 verses 20-26 his misery is evident, “20 Why is light given to him who suffers, and life to the bitter of soul, 21 Who long for death, but there is none, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, 22 Who rejoice greatly, and exult when they find the grave? 23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in? 24 For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my cries pour out like water. 25 For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. 26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.
These were not people to be scorned, they weren’t people God stopped loving in their distress, nor did He leave them by the wayside because they could not see, for those moments, that life had a meaning or a purpose or even that there was a life to be lived. God does not leave us in our affliction so why should those in our home churches or brothers and sisters in the faith? That does not mean that we cannot, as brothers and sisters in Christ, help point to the worth in life, that we cannot emphasize that this too shall pass, or that things will get better. That the depression that some experience is situational and will change as the pressure lifts and the realization that we are not forsaken sinks in.
Paul in 2 Corinthians when he despaired of life continued on and said in verses 9 & 10, “9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.” He knew that even unto death God was not going to leave him, even though you can imagine the anguish that had brought him to despair of life. We can hear the emotion in Job. He couldn’t keep the “stiff upper lip” amid his pain and to expect that kind of emotionless Christian life is not a biblical ideal.
We as Christians need to stop stigmatizing the word depression and be available for others who need to cry out in anguish so that they can move on from the hard place that they are in. G. Campbell Morgan said in his book, Searchlights From The Word, “Yet, such outpouring is a far more healthy thing for the soul than dark and silent brooding.” In Psalm 34:17-19 we are told,
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.