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Monday, January 30, 2012

Did Jesus Get Depressed? Do you?: The Bible and Depression

There are a lot people suffering all around us every day, so I need to go someplace hard with you today. Let’s talk about depression. 

Why do we get depressed?

Depression and discouragement can be triggered by any number of things.  

People are still losing their homes, their jobs, their families, their insurance, their sense of security. 

We are in an economic slump, recession, decline, downturn, or slide; you pick a term you like.

The weather can be a factor many of us. Lots of people have difficulty coping with the lack of sunlight for months at a time. Here in the Midwest we have very little actual sunlight for about 5 months of the year. It is a cause for joy, when it pokes through the clouds for even a few moments.

For some of us, it is just our chemistry. Clinical depression is a physical condition that needs to be diagnosed by a physician. It may not be stem from an unfortunate state of affairs. More importantly, the symptoms of true clinical depression cannot be alleviated by one's own will, alone.

Contrary to what some may teach within religious sects, clinical depression is not always caused by sin. Depression can sometimes be caused by a physical disorder that needs to be treated with medication and possibly counseling.

Of course, God is able to cure any disease or disorder. But in many cases, seeing a doctor for depression should be seen no differently than seeing a doctor for any other injury.

Who gets depressed?

No one group is exempt from depression.

Almost no Bible translation uses the specific term "depression.”  

Instead, the Bible uses words like downcast, sad, forlorn, discouraged, downhearted, mourning, troubled, miserable, despairing, and brokenhearted.

But in its pages you can find many people who clearly display the obvious symptoms of depression.

The Bible shows us that depression can strike anyone.

It strikes the poor, like Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth.

It strikes the very rich, like King Solomon. Have you ever read Ecclesiastes?

It strikes the young people, like David in his prime.

And, it strikes the old, like Job sitting on the midden heap, having lost everything including his children. A midden heap for those who do not remember is the family kitchen garbage dump.

Depression strikes women, like Hannah, who was barren

It strikes men, like Jeremiah, known as the "weeping prophet."

Depression can come after a defeat, such as David at Ziklag.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. (1 Samuel 30:3-4, NIV)

It can come upon us after a great victory. Elijah the prophet defeated the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in an absolutely stunning display of God's power (1 Kings 18:38). But instead of being encouraged, Elijah, fearing Jezebel's revenge, was weary and afraid:

He (Elijah) came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. (1 Kings 19:4-5, NIV)

Christ, yes, even Jesus Christ, who was like us in all things but sin, may have suffered depression. When the messengers came to him, reporting that Herod Antipas had beheaded His beloved friend, and cousin, John the Baptist, look at what the text says Jesus did:

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. (Matthew 14:13, NIV)

It can strike any one of us!

There are people whose lives we touch every day, silently drowning in their own angst and pain.

When was the last time you reached out of your comfort zone to help someone else?


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