Everyone gets discouraged, depressed, anxious, and fearful. Worry is a thief. It steals your joy. No one wants to live this way, but at times we all do. So how do we overcome?
The Sickness of Depression
Depression is not a sin but a sickness. It is not a sin to be sick. Depression is the world’s number one health problem causing more deaths than cancer each year. It is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that leads to intense sadness. It is a fallacy to think that if you love God, you will never be depressed. That would be like saying if you love God, you will never have headaches, backaches, heart attacks, allergies, arthritis, bronchitis, pneumonia, or high cholesterol. Some of the greatest people who ever lived battled depression – Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Charles Hadden Spurgeon to name a few. First Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” Everyone sooner or later will experience depression to one degree or another. Someone called it “the common cold of our emotions.” It is a common experience because we are all human. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity….” If you experience depression, you are not alone! We have to be honest and admit we are not superman but we are human! Did you know that Moses, Jonah, and Elijah were so depressed that they all prayed to die (Num. 11:14-15, Jon. 4:8, 1 Kin. 19:1-4)? The devil does not fight fair. 1 Peter 5:9 says, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
The Symptoms of Depression
In the cases of Moses, Jonah, and Elijah their depression came on the hills of success. Moses the Exodus, Jonah the city-wide revival, and Elijah saw fire fall from heaven. Depression will sometimes hit you when everything is going well. You have everything anyone would want in life but you feel so empty inside. You are running so fast you are running on empty. What goes up must come down. Life is filled with highs and lows. Elijah went from hero to zero. Sometimes it hits when you have experienced some great loss: health, divorce, or the death of a loved one. Depression can cause you to feel like you don’t want to get out of the bed. You may feel sad, empty, hopeless, angry, or irritable, even over small matters. You may lose interest in normal activities or suffer from insomnia or sleeping too much. Some have a reduced appetite and others an increased appetite. You may have trouble thinking or concentrating. Certainly with Moses, Jonah, and Elijah they were overloaded and overwhelmed. They were physically exhausted (their bodies were affected). Sometimes you may be emotionally exhausted (your soul is affected). Sometimes there is a chemical imbalance, but sometimes it is a calendar imbalance. Go to the doctor. Seek professional help. Start eating healthy. Take your medication. Trim your calendar. Learn to say, “No.” We are made in the image of God, who is a triune being. The body is physical. The soul is mental and emotional. The spirit is spiritual. It’s possible to be spiritually exhausted as well. We are in a spiritual battle. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came to give us life! It is ok to not be ok. There should be no stigma to being sick physically or mentally. Whatever your illness, it is not your identity. There is hope!
The Survival of Depression
Don’t give in or give up. You are going to make it! The devil wants you to have a breakdown. God wants you to have a breakthrough! God gave Moses help because he was working night and day (Num. 11:14-17). If you try to be everything to everyone you will probably not be worth anything to anyone! We need to eliminate and delegate. God gave Elijah some R&R (1 Kin. 19:5-8) and a project and a partner (v. 9-17). Everyone needs to do some type of meaningful work, to do something that matters. Everyone needs a community of friends who loves them unconditionally. Everyone needs to take whatever suffering and pain they have experienced and let God use it for good. There is purpose in the pain. “Ultimately, your pain is either a jail that imprisons you or a school that empowers you.”
Elijah had an encounter with God. Hear His still small voice speaking to you today. The second part of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that we looked at above says, “But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.” God can heal you instantly but more times than not it is a process. God can heal you or He will enable you to live with your issue and be a survivor. Dr. Ron Dunn was one of the greatest Bible teachers of our day, but he battled depression. His son battled depression and committed suicide. I heard him say one time, “The question is not do I have enough faith to be healed. The question is do I have enough faith to say sick?” Ask yourself today, “What if God does not heal me in this life?” I’m here to tell you, you can make it! God will give you what you need to bear it and get through it. Ultimate healing is in heaven. You can survive and thrive. Your greatest ministry always comes out of your greatest pain. Sometimes you have to find yourself in a dark place to appreciate the light. Elijah and Moses went on to be at the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus used Jonah as a sign of his resurrection. They overcame and you can too!
Out of the Cave by Chris Hodges, Pg 193.