December 14, 2018

The Issue Many Do Not Want to Face

“Those who, standing in the forefront of the conflict, are impelled by the Holy Spirit to do a special work, will frequently feel a reaction when the pressure is removed. Despondency may shake the most heroic faith and weaken the most steadfast will. But God understands, and He still pities and loves." Prophets and Kings, p. 174

 

I wrote this article two days after attending the funeral service of the husband of a young woman whom I knew when I was pastor of a church in Indiana. It so happens my wife sent me a text, telling me she received news that the husband of that young woman had died. The news took me by surprise because he was 33 years old and, from what I knew, in good health. But then the sermon revealed the reality of his condition. It seems the young man suffered from depression and had started taking medication to alleviate his condition. Sadly, the medicine worsened the situation to the extent he took his own life.


I thank God for the pastor who preached that day. The pastor preached about depression, a topic about which I have heard very little preached. In his sermon, he mentioned characters from the Bible, such as Elijah, David, Job, Jeremiah, and even the apostle Paul — people who went through moments of severe depression and how God did not abandon them in their moments of psychological pain.


Chronic depression is something real, dangerous and very common, even among Christians. From what I understand of this disease, depression (especially chronic depression) is not something that, to seek relief, you can just simply tell the person to "read the Bible and pray." By saying this, I do not want you to misunderstand me, thinking that reading the Word of God and prayer do not help. Of course, it is expected that each person takes time to read and pray daily in order to grow in their spiritual life. But the reality is that, as humans, we need additional support. In the case of Paul, you can see in his epistles that he was so grateful for the spiritual support he received from people like Timothy, Luke and Mark. Ellen White also went through moments of depression but, in addition to the Bible and prayer, she also had her close friends who encouraged her. Keep in mind, even our Lord Jesus sought support from his three disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.


I wonder if there is someone reading this article (layman or pastor) who, for a long time, has felt depressed. Christian psychologists recommend talking to your doctor first to see if the depression is something physical that is contributing to that feeling. In addition, I recommend looking for someone of the same sex with whom you can share your feelings and pray. And, of course, in your depressed moments, remember what the Word of God says in Matthew 11:28, Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

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