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!

Pastor Josh

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.

“A Prayer for Our Friends Struggling with Depression.” Heavenward by Scotty Smith. Accessed August 27, 2015. http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2011/03/29/a-prayer-for-our-friends-struggling-with-depression/.

What is Your Authority?

This past month I had the wonderful privilege to walk through and teach on the Doctrine of Scripture. This was a great time of learning and worship. At times the study felt very information heavy and I’m sure the teens could feel that weight at times also. However, the basis for the study is still resonating in my mind, “What is your authority?”

What is Your Authority?

The Bible is unlike any other written document:

  • the Bible documents have withstood the most scrutinizing analysis ever imposed upon any manuscript and have emerged with compelling authenticity and authority.
  • No other ancient literature demonstrates such a high degree of accuracy
  • The power of the Bible is evident… remember the Word of God is alive, it is not just Words on a paper…it impacts life, like nothing else…through the Spirit of God, the Bible changes lives completely.

This Crazy World

With news headlines including terrorism, citizen/police brutality, homosexual policies, reality TV star scandals, and transgender acceptance–we are a society that has drifted quickly away from any moral point of reference.

This is no new thing for mankind, however. In Matthew 11 the heart of our herd-like instinct is revealed. When John the Baptist shared his message, the people didn’t like it because it was too strict. But when Jesus came onto the scene the people hated His message because He was too accepting. Here is the reality, anything that challenges the way people live has often, if not always, been met with rejection.

With a society (as far as America goes) that seems to be slipping into a moral-ditching, sin-lusting trend it can make true followers of Christ feel like the odd man out. And we are! We are facing a society in which being “Christian” isn’t normal. If we are going to stand for what the truths of Scripture actually upholds, then we will face ridicule and persecution in a variety of forms.

So how do I talk with those I care for, about God and the Bible?

Talk it Through

It is our job as followers of Christ to:

  • Proclaim the Word of God
  • Stand for the Word of God
  • Live out the Word of God

“Our job is not to run from and isolate ourselves from our culture, as some do–it is our job to boldly face it, and like Jesus, be different with the goal of sharing true hope, that is, the Gospel.”

The women Jesus met at the well in Samaria had been living her life running to empty wells that would not fulfill. And Jesus led her to the well that is only found in a relationship with God.

Get to know the person so that you can help take them from their empty well, and lead them to what will last for all eternity.

Start a conversation that will point to God and the Bible:
What are their fears? (Does God have an answer?)
What misconceptions (false-views) do they have of God and the Bible? (Can you clarify from Biblical examples?)
How has God shown Himself evident in your own life? (Share it!)

If our authority is anything other than The Bible then our moral point of reference can be anywhere. Why is it important that we be strict followers of the Bible? Because the world demands it. Okay, so maybe not in an audible cry, but by the examples that have been portrayed just in the news the last few weeks, society is searching in so many empty wells and they will only find destruction. Unless, we take them to the well found in the pages of Scripture and introduce them to the Living Water, Christ!

“We can trust in the Word of God for not only the life we are living now but for the hope we have after death. It is our awesome responsibility to carry this message to the world around us…are you sharing this great work, The Bible?”