♣ Are Christians Exempt from Depression?
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in You my soul takes refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God Who fulfils His purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me…God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!” – Psalm 57:1-3
CAN A CHRISTIAN really encounter depression? Did King David ever encounter days when there seemed to be no hope? The Psalms are saturated with such accounts. Looking over David’s life, would you say he was weak due to feeling the way he did? David, who was skilled in the art of war, who had slain his tens of thousands – was he feeble? Here was a man after God’s own heart and yet suffered acute seasons of depression. Think of Asaph and the other Psalmists. Think of Job. Think of that renowned prophet, Elijah who asked God to take his life. Spurgeon had severe bouts of depression. William Cowper, the renowned hymn writer, encountered depression to such a degree that at times it was too agonising to live and on some occasions took thought to taking his own life.
Oppression leads to depression; depression is the outcome of persistent oppressive circumstances. Depression is not imaginary; it is very real, despite those who fabricate it and abuse the system in order to gain sick leave or long term disability. Occurring oppression is not when a person possesses the will, freedom, ways and means to change situations, but rather, a sense of imprisonment through extreme limited resources, that after having tried everything available, nothing has changed; after having put forth all effort, no success is yielded. That is what dampens the human spirit and with long-drawn-out months and years, can take its toll on one mentally, physically and emotionally. If there is no way out of a situation – and there are scenarios where that really does take place, where every door closes, every hope of deliverance crumbles, those who were friends turned out to be frauds and family reacts indifferently – then there is a great possibility, unless you implicitly trust God, that these oppressive circumstances will slowly turn into depression.
Depression is when one longingly wishes they could escape a living nightmare; when one eagerly retires to sleep but hates waking up to face another day of misery; when one regrets the day they came into this life; when one wishes for the past when life once had bright purpose; when one dreads the future because of all that has transpired over the last number of years. The list goes on.
As Christians, why does God permit such circumstances that sometimes lead us to feel this way? God is teaching us to trust in no-one but Himself. He is bringing us to the place where our springs of life and joy are found in Him. He is not granting us happiness resulting from happenings (circumstances), but is leading us into His joy that shall be too incredible to describe no matter how bleak our situation may look; our joy shall remain as we abide in Him. He is increasing our sensibility of eternal values. He is showing us where our true security lies – not in things but in Himself; He is showing how safe we are in Him. When God gives foretastes of heaven, the path by which we encounter such beauty is oftentimes through loss, pain and adversity, but to taste heaven’s manna on this side of eternity still far outweighs our temporary grief.
Is it a sin to feel depressed? It is what we do with these feelings that makes all the difference. Where it becomes sin is when we will not come before God and pour out our heart to Him, but instead wallow in our situation. That is choosing to worry; that is opting to focus on our problems, our feelings and to be filled with anxiety which is an indirect way of saying that God is not able to take care of us. Look how David began most of his psalms; most of them were written with tears of agony, but as David poured out his heart before God, his spirit was elevated. He may have had to wait and trust at times, but God never once failed him. Our feelings of darkness and heaviness may linger; we may feel the tide come and go, but if we have to pray a thousand times a day, “Lord, I know You are with me and that I am dearly loved by You, I cleave to You and trust You despite what fears and despairing thoughts are trying to assail my mind” – then pray it, it is the heart turning to Him, relying wholeheartedly on Him. In His perfect time, He will give you all that you need and He will never put you through more than you can handle, even though you feel you’re about to give way – that is God stretching you to exercise your faith in Him. God is perfectly aware of what you are able to endure.
There are times when there is nothing else we can do, after having tried all, but to cleave unto God in complete abandonment and trust. That is the last thing the enemy wants us to do. If he can dissuade us from getting there, we are undone and he has won the upper-ground. If we are trusting God, no matter what the scenario, then nothing can touch or move us.
Listen again to David: “…in You my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” It is there we shall know healing for a sound mind.
Posted on November 6, 2013, in ♣ Devotional and tagged adversity, anxiety, Are Christians Exempt from Depression?, cleave unto God, depression, devotional, eternal values, foretastes of heaven, imprisonment, loss, Mark Anthony Williams, oppression, pain, Psalm 57:1-3, Refuge, security, sensibility, Spurgeon, storms, trust, William Cowper, worry. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.