There are numerous reasons that a person might feel depressed. We can be depressed because of a loss or a set back, because of a lack of sleep, or because of illness. And I don’t have to tell you ladies about hormonal issues. And, sometimes, there is no known cause other than living life in sin-cursed bodies in a fallen world.
It’s, also, true that a failure to handle the events and responsibilities of life in a biblical way can cause feelings of depression. But we must be very careful about making assumptions where others are concerned.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We started with anger and then moved on to depression. Two weeks ago we discussed the medical, cultural and biblical definitions of depression and last week we looked at the lives of two of the prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, and how God ministered to them when they experienced feelings of depression. We, also, discussed the difference between depression and discouragement. If you missed them, you may want to read them first.
Handling Depression Biblically – Part 3
Today we’re going to look at David’s life and talk about the “S-word,” sin, as it relates to depression.
I can already feel someone’s blood pressure starting to rise, so allow me to make a few disclaimers before we get started.
First, there are numerous reasons that a person might feel depressed. We can be depressed because of a loss or a set back, because of a lack of sleep, or because of illness. And I don’t have to tell you ladies about hormonal issues. And, sometimes, there is no known cause other than living life in sin-cursed bodies in a fallen world.
Many godly men and women have struggled with feelings of depression, including: the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon; the great reformer, Martin Luther; and poet and hymn writer, William Cowper. Last week we talked about “The Weeping Prophet,” Jeremiah, and Elijah, who defeated and killed 400 prophets of Baal, only to become so depressed afterwards that he wanted to die.
But it’s, also, true that a failure to handle the events and responsibilities of life in a biblical way can cause feelings of depression. So while we must be very careful about making assumptions where others are concerned, we need to address sin as a possible cause of depression.
If anyone had a reason to suffer from depression, it was David. It seems the man God called “a man after His own heart” (Acts 13.22) and “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23.1) had plenty of opportunities.
When Samuel came to anoint the next king of Israel from among Jesse’s sons, his father didn’t even call him in from the field (1 Sam. 16.5-13).
When he stood up to the giant Goliath, his brother made fun of him.
26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”
Then, even though he killed the giant and served Saul faithfully on and off the battlefield, Saul continually broke his promises to David (1 Sam. 18.17-19) and, eventually sought to kill him out of jealousy (1 Sam. 18.8-11).
And even though God had proclaimed him the next king, years went by while he was pursued by Saul, disrespected by others (1 Sam. 25.9-11) and, even, threatened by his own men (1 Sam. 30.6).
After he became king, he was betrayed by his close friend and his own son (2 Sam. 15.10-12).
Frequently, in the psalms, David cried out to the Lord because of his trials and distresses. But perhaps the clearest example of his struggle with depressed emotions takes place after his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11.2-5). In Psalm 32 he gives us a snapshot of what he learned about sin, confession, and forgiveness.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah (NLT).
A good description of many of the physical feelings connected with depression.
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
And verse 1:
1 Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
God shows us the way to live righteously. When we follow His instructions, we will, generally, experience feelings of peace and joy. That doesn’t mean we’ll never have challenges, losses, or disappointments. But when we respond God’s way we can trust Him to give us the strength to walk through them, in spite of feelings to the contrary.
On the other hand, living with unrepentant sin can lead to feelings of guilt and depression that seem almost overwhelming. The answer, just as it was for David, is confessing and forsaking our sin and allowing God to give us the strength to walk through and respond rightly to any consequences.
Next week, we’ll finish the subject of depression by talking about Cain and look at how believers should respond to feelings of depression.
I hope you’ll be here each week (post goes live at 5 PM MST on Sundays).
Special Offer for the month of June only: If you sign up for “Christian Living” posts and “Bible in a Year” posts here and here (you must click both links and add your email address), I’ll send you a Kindle version of “Help, I”m Depressed” by Life Line Mini-Books.
Does this sound like you? “Troubling thoughts flood my mind. I lie in bed alone, beseeching God on behalf of my three children. The tears come as I wonder why the Lord seems so far away and why prayers remain unanswered. Life seems so unfair. Why is it so hard? In the “depths of despair” I know I have a choice to make. Am I going to allow these feelings to destroy me?”
If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed? by Robert Somerville
In this achingly honest work, Dr. Somerville explains that depression is not restricted to the secular world. Throughout history, godly men and woman—among them Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon—have suffered in the deep trenches of dark emotion. But God’s Word promises victory at the seemingly unreachable end of trials, and new strength forged from adversity and pain in the new light that follows the darkness of despair.
You are not alone. In If I’m a Christian, Why am I Depressed? you will find not only the author’s testimony but also those of others who have struggled with depression and through prayer and biblical counseling have overcome by embracing Christ’s healing love.
Exodus is a real story about God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery and how their difficult journey home exposed their loyalties—though wounded by Egypt, they had come to worship its gods. Most Christians don’t make golden idols like the Israelites in the wilderness, but we do set up idols on our own desert road—idols like substance abuse, pornography, gluttony, and rage. And even those who don’t know the pain of actual slavery can feel enslaved to the fear and shame that follow sexual abuse or betrayal by a spouse, for we suffer at the hands of our idols as well as those created by others. We need more than self-improvement or comfort—we need redemption.
Redemption is not a step-oriented recovery book; it’s story-oriented and Bible-anchored. It unfolds the back-story of redemption in Exodus to help Christians better understand how Christ redeems us from the slavery of abuse, addiction and assorted trouble and restores us to our created purpose, the worship of God. Readers will discover that the reward of freedom is more than victory over a habitual sin or release from shame; it is satisfaction and rest in God himself.
Where Is God in the Struggle? Looking away from despair towards hope can feel risky. What if God doesn’t come through for you? What if you don’t feel instantly better? Instead of offering simple platitudes or unrealistic “cure-all” formulas, Edward T. Welch addresses the complex nature of depression with compassion and insight, applying the rich treasures of the gospel, and giving fresh hope to those who struggle. Originally published as Depression: A Stubborn Darkness Light for the Path, this new edition is updated with added content.
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