Depression, if you’ve ever suffered with it, you know it can be a dark, discouraging place to be. At its worst, it’s been called the “dark night of the soul.” But there is hope for those experiencing discouragement, depression, and hopelessness.
Did people in biblical times experience feelings of depression? Is so, what can we learn from their lives and God’s interaction with them?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Previously we covered how to handle anger in God honoring ways. You can click the link above to read those posts.
Last week we began discussing depression, in particular, the different definitions of depression: the medical definition, the cultural and the biblical.
Handling Depression Biblically – Part 2
Last week I said that no one is immune to feelings of depression. For some it’s a mild sense of sadness, for others it can feel debilitating. Today we’re going to look at the biblical definition again and how it compares to discouragement. We’ll, also, look at Elijah’s and Jeremiah’s lives and how they responded to these feelings.
Depression or Discouragement?
The feelings involved in both depression and discouragement are much the same. They can be extremely painful and difficult and can tempt us to give in to them. The depressed person responds by shutting down. He or she stops functioning in some or all areas of life.
She may stop going to work, quit cleaning the house, avoid people, or refuse to get out of bed altogether. But when a person is discouraged, as I’m defining it here, he or she keeps going, keeps handling life, in spite of their feelings to the contrary.
So, I would define depression as, “a debilitating mood, feeling or attitude of hopelessness which becomes a person’s reason for not handling the most important issues of life.”
The difference between discouragement and depression is immobility. With depression there is an almost total reliance on feelings and those feelings become the basis for their action or inaction.
Numerous people in the Bible experienced feelings of discouragement and/or depression, including: Elijah, David, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Cain.
Today we’ll look at a two of the prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, and next week we’ll talk about David, Jonah, and Cain. Continue reading