Mental health experts often refer to depression as “the common cold of the mind.”
At some point in life nearly everyone suffers some form of depression–ranging from just “feeling a little blue,” all the way to clinical depression resulting in psychological problems. Dr. Shelia Roberts, a practicing psychiatrist in Louisville, KY, told me that more than 75% of her patients are dealing with depression.
Since the tragic death of Robin Williams, there has been a greater national awareness and dialog regarding depression. So, yesterday we began a series on this vital topic.
The apostle Peter affirmed that God’s Word has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” So, does the Bible say anything about depression? The Good News is YES!
We read in the Old Testament of Bible characters who dealt with depression.
The great leader Moses became depressed. Following Israel’s release from captivity, and God’s blessings of providence over a two-year period, the people continually complained. Finally, Moses had enough. He cried to the Lord, “The burden is too heavy for me…just kill me here and now.” (Numbers 11:10-15).
Moses was disappointed in the people, overworked and felt inadequate. All these issues can cause us to despair of life. God provided for Moses by having him appoint 70 men to share the work. Furthermore, God sent a strong wind to bring in quail to feed the people.
King Saul was severely depressed. His jealous ranting against David demonstrated a mental instability. Numerous incidents are recorded in 1 Samuel. Unfortunately Saul sadly ended his own life by falling on his sword.
Job suffered from deep depression. The Bible describes Job as a righteous man who “feared God and shunned evil.” He was a very wealthy man, “the greatest of all the people of the east.” And he enjoyed a large family of 7 sons and 3 daughters. (Job 1:1-5)
The Bible says the Devil made an accusation against Job that he was just serving God because he had been blessed. God denied it. But allowed the Devil to test Job. As the narrative unfolds Job’s possessions were all wiped out by enemies or natural disasters. His sons and daughters were killed in a “tornado.”
Job’s grief was great and he obviously mourned, but he did not blame God. Finally, the Devil afflicted Job physically with boils from head to toe. Chapter 2 describes the painful, pitiful condition of Job. Finally his wife slashed out, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
Job has now experienced at least 5 factors that contribute to depression: Financial loss, death of loved ones, rejection, disappointment and physical suffering. Counselors often use various mental health scales to determine depression–it’s cause and severity. By any measurement, Job’s number would be off the charts!
Is it any wonder that Job lamented the day of his birth. “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11)
As the book unfolds Job asks lots of questions, but finds no answers. His three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar came to “ mourn with him, and to comfort him.” However, about the only thing they did right was in the beginning was to just sit with him in silence. (Job 2:11-12)
The book records their speeches of recrimination, accusation and blame. It turns out they were wrong! They were better off when they were silent! It’s a good lesson for us not to analyze others and assess blame, when we don’t know what we’re talking about!
Is it any wonder that through all of this Job cries, “And now my life seeps away. Depression haunts my days (Job 30:16)
In the end God revealed himself to Job in a very dramatic way. Jehovah responded to Job’s questions. Relieved his emotional burden. Returned his family. And restored his blessings.
We are promised that God hears our cries. Cares about our problems. And will provide for all our needs (1 Pet 5:7; Phil 4:19). Through prayer, the counsel of His Word, and the right kind of help from other people, we can hope again.
We can cope with the problem of depression.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman