God and My Life: Depression
This next Sunday I will be talking to our teens about depression. My goal is for them to see that the Bible does not shy away from talking about depression and even has several examples of great men and women who struggled from time to time with depression.
Depression is something that has grown in recent years. Why? That question led me to “Psychology Today.” This is who they say they are:
“At PsychologyToday.com, where you are now, we have gathered renowned psychologists, academics, psychiatrists and authors in our field — there are over 750 of them — to contribute their thoughts and ideas on what makes us tick. We’re a live stream of what’s happening in ‘psychology today’.”
An article written a few years ago caught my attention. I want to share with you some excerpts that I will also be sharing on Sunday. *Please read through until the conclusion to get the big picture
“Much of what we refer to as clinical depression is inaccurate. Most depression is situational. The symptoms of depression are often due to depressing circumstances, not disease.”
Much of what psychologist and other doctors have claimed as a disease or imbalance may not in fact be entirely accurate.
“Many of us live dulled lives, somewhat robotic in nature and devoid of deeper meaning and purpose. Our lives, often become visionless and passionless. We live in an intensely competitive culture that rewards achievement and success. Our identity and esteem become reflections of these external markers of achievement. Our pursuit of happiness and well-being become terribly misdirected. The demands of our intensely and neurotically driven culture strain our emotional and psychological balance well beyond its comfortable balance. The cultural paradigm in which we live leaves us disconnected, disenchanted and isolated. When this occurs, we tend to honor and seek material acquisitions at the cost of devoting ourselves to intimate and loving relationships—with others and ourselves.“
Is there something more to live for than this world and what it has to offer? My answer, from the Bible, is yes, His name is Christ!
“People that thrive in loving relationships don’t typically feel depressed. Depression is symptomatic of feeling isolated and cut off. In our drive to live the good life, we typically isolate ourselves from relationships that might nourish us. Intimate and loving relations have become somewhat marginalized and have lost value in our very hurried lives. Our frenetic pace of life sees one day blur into another, until life begins to lose its meaning. We don’t have time to nurture our loved ones or ourselves, and we lose our vision of a well-spent life. In fact, the problem is that we don’t know how to live well.”
The Bible speaks of the Church being the institution that brings us together for teaching, worship, and fellowship (caring for one another through encouragement and exhortation) Acts 2:42.
“My thesis is, therefore, twofold: Much of what we call depression is a typical life struggle around loss, fear and grave situational issues that have become clinicalized for profit. Yet, there also lies a deeper despair that accompanies living an incoherent life, as a stranger in a strange land. What I am strongly asserting is that depression, and anxiety for that matter, are the most likely outcomes of living in and with the unmerciful and misguided constraints of a tired and destructive worldview. Our constructed reality is for many people depressive and anxiety inducing. Feeling as such ironically suggests that many depressed people are merely mirroring the affects of a somewhat incongruous, if not insane way of living, fostered by the society itself. In effect, the way that we are living is producing tragic results.“
Our worldview matters! As a believer, what is the lens in which I view the world around me? The one who has all authority on this earth told us: Matthew 28:18-20 “18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Suicide rates are higher than ever. Turn on the news and see the effects of sin and depression through murders, violence, divorce rates higher and higher each year, not to mention scandals that involve people pursuing anything to make them feel like they are wanted or needed.
The world around us is crazy. The world our teens are growing up in is crazy, but this is nothing new. The Bible shows us this world as well, but also shows us that there was an answer for those that struggled with depression in the midst of a crazy world. That answer was God and a strong dependence on Him.
This is not to say that other factors don’t play into one’s struggle with depression. But the foundation in God cannot be removed. I think this prayer helps wrap up my heartbeat on the matter best.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 43:5
“Kindhearted Father, my heart goes out today and my prayers reach up on behalf of those who struggle with various expressions of depression. I have friends who live all along the axis of mild melancholy to the relentless pangs of suicidal depression. Father of mercies, teach us how to love in the dark, disconnected places.
Continue to rescue us from naïve and inadequate views of depression. It’s not as simple of a condition as I used to think. I grieve the ways I used to counsel the depressed—encouraging and exhorting them just to run to Jesus and “get over it.”
David asked the right question, in a season of great duress. “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” Indeed, Father, there are multiple reasons for a downcast, disturbed soul. Please show us how to care for our friends, and ourselves, when descending into the different expressions of sadness and hopelessness.
Father, for our friends who are depressed for no other reason than living with a grace-less gospel-less heart, keep them restless and disturbed until they rest in the finished work of Jesus. May they despair of their unrighteousness and their self-righteousness, until they are driven to the righteousness that only comes from faith in Jesus. Bring the grace and truth of the gospel to bear with great liberating power.
Father, for our friends who suffer with depression generated by anatomical anomalies, lead them to good physicians and the right kind of medical care. Grant us the grace we need to be patient and understanding of the complexities involved in their illness and care. The risk of abusing “meds” is always there. This can be a very difficult and long journey. Give us your compassion and strength.
Father, for our friends who suffer from depression fueled by demonic influence, grant us wisdom and courage as we enter the warfare for their souls. Satan, our fury-filled foe (Rev. 12:12), is relentless and ruthless. His condemning, blaming-and-shaming voice is enough to generate deep despair and thoughts of self-destruction. Equip us with the arsenal of the gospel as we wrestle in prayer and walk with our targeted friends.
How we long for the Day of no more darkness, depression and despair. Until that day, we put our hope in you—our loving Savior and faithful God. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ compassionate and victorious name.”
See you Sunday!
Psychology Today-Collection of professional psychologists, counselors, and professors. “Is Our Society Manufacturing Depressed People?” Psychology Today. Accessed August 27, 2015. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shift-mind/201203/is-our-society-manufacturing-depressed-people.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 28:18–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.