Saturday, December 14, 2013

Blog #1 – A Christian Perspective on Depression

If you are feeling depressed, you are definitely not alone.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 10 adults in the United States suffer from depression.  According to the CDC those most likely to suffer from major depression are: persons 45-64 years of age, women, ethnic minorities, those with less than a high school education, previously married persons, individuals unable to work or unemployed, and those without health insurance coverage.  By the way, this study by the CDC also found that the least depressed people in the United States are those who live in North Dakota, and the most depressed people are those who live in Mississippi and West Virginia.  (If you are curious, Minnesotans ranked even with Iowans as the third least depressed states just after the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2rd place.)

I would also add a group to this list of people who struggle with depression – Christians.  You’re kidding!  Christians? Yes!  People who should be the most joyful, satisfied and emotionally healthy people on earth are often suffering from the same low feelings as others who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  As my four year old grandson likes to say, “Isn’t that weird?” 

Just because a person is a follower of Jesus Christ does not mean he or she is immune from depression, or for that matter, from any other negative emotion.  Just consider King David, he was very open about it, and he was “a man after God’s own heart”. (Acts 13:22)  In the middle of his depression King David wrote, “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage.  Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak.  Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart.  How long, O Lord until you restore me?  Return, O Lord, and rescue me.  Save me because of your unfailing love.  For the dead do not remember you.  Who can praise you from the grave?  I am worn out from sobbing.  All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.  My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.  Go away, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping.  The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.  May all my enemies be disgraced and terrified.  May they suddenly turn back in shame.” (Psalm 6:1-10 NLT) 

From this Psalm I believe it is possible to deduce the causes of David’s depression.  One cause was his “enemies”.  Throughout his royal career David faced many enemies.  His enemies ranged from foreign armies to the King he served, to even members of his own family.  When anyone has constant opposition from others, it can lead to depression because we feel hopeless and helpless and like it will never end.  This is why David cries out to the Lord, “How long…?”  Possibly your “enemy” is an abusive spouse or rebellious child, a boss who does not treat you fairly, a once good friend who has turned against you, or maybe even someone in church with whom you have a conflict.  David shows us that dealing with enemies can be emotionally depressing and physically exhausting, this includes dealing with our enemy the devil and his army of evil spirits.

Another cause of David’s depression was his own physical weakness.  He mentions his “bones are in agony”, and he even talks about death and the grave.  Certainly struggling with sickness, especially over an extended period of time can lead to depression.  We all realize that not only do our emotions affect our physical condition, but our physical condition affects our emotional state as well. 

Even though a Christian is not immune from depression, he or she certainly has the answer to overcoming it, and it is David who provides it.  Did you notice David’s frequent references to “the Lord”?  The ultimate answer to winning over depression is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue and save us from it because of His unfailing love.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to overcoming depression.  Who better to heal us from this negative emotion and thought pattern than the One who made us and saved us from our sins by His death on the cross?  As David sought healing from the Lord, will you?  At Freedom Christian Counseling, it is my privilege to assist you in coming in contact with the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can set you free from the bondage of depression.