Wednesday, September 23, 2009
WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY ABOUT DEPRESSION?
Symptoms of depression:
1. Loss of interest in daily activities~
In my life, I find that overcoming the feeling of being worthless, lost or lacking interest is to realize that God created everyone with a unique purpose. God has given you a gift, a natural talent—use it and it will be multiplied. Hide it and He will bless others with opportunities that could have been yours. Matthew 25:14-30 tells the parable of the talents—it explains both the blessing and curse. Another Biblical example that demonstrates this truism is the story of Jonah, who ended up in the belly of a great fish because he was running from God’s instructions to preach in Nineveh. Where did the great fish spew him out? Nineveh! Only after surviving a literal storm and near death experience was Jonah determined to follow God’ path for his life. Numerous characters in the Bible struggled with hopelessness, depression, and despair, for example Elijah, David, Job. Even Christ cried out, “I am deeply grieved, even to the point of death.” Mark 14:34 Still he obeyed, “…what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour '? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” John 12:27 Similarly, Luke 5 reinforces the power of obedience, Peter was exhausted after fishing all night without success. Christ instructed him to cast his nets again~ even thought I’m sure Peter questioned this request, he followed Jesus’ directions. He was rewarded with so many fish that the fishermen began to worry that it might sink. That was the turning point for Peter; he recognized Jesus as the Messiah and became a “fisher of men.” By following Christ’s direction, which defied logic, his life was transformed, blessed, and enriched.
Do you know it is the devil’s job to steal our dreams by making us overwork, worry, guilt-ridden, insecure, depressed…? John 10:10 states, “The thief’s purpose is steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” The darkest days of my depression struck when after years of teaching and attaining my Master’s Degree, I lost a pregnancy, my spouse, my job—I felt total despair—It took several years of wallowing in misery to realize God cared more about who I am (character) rather than what I do (work). At the age of 37 I found myself single and pregnant. The doctors explained the health risks. My family worried over my financial and spiritual wellbeing. A coworker was the voice of many when she hinted that just because I was pregnant didn’t mean that I had to have a child. In my view, despite my sin, God would provide—God has blessed my faithfulness; she has never been without diapers or formula. I held fast to Romans 8:28 that God would turn a bad situation into good. Two years later, after seeking Godly council and forgiveness, I married her father. What a wonderful addition our little Katie has been! Now I work as a church secretary and my blessings are both seen and unseen. Reflecting on the talents parable Matthew 25, I joke that God is challenging me to be a good steward with my hourly rate, so that I can be a bigger blessing when he entrusts me with millions. My daily life is a continual challenge of faith!
We never feel more alive than when we are productively pursing God’s purpose. “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6 God loves you and has wonderful plans for your life. “You (God) created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe.” Psalm 139:13-16 There is no one else exactly like you and there never will be. Again, in Jeremiah 29:11 God explains his divine purpose, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Just like Queen Ester, God made you to witness and work for such a time as this. There are multiple scriptures which reinforce God’s divine plan, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16 Earlier in the chapter, verses 1-5 explain that the branches (the church) draw energy and nutrients from the vine (Jesus). “…every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” God prunes the unnecessary from our lives so that we produce more spiritual fruit. What is this fruit? Galatians 5:22-23 describes what we should see in a Christian’s life, “..the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Therefore, I use this verse as a measuring stick for my life and use it to measure-up who I should associate with. Does my life and testimony reach out to others with love, forgiveness, humor, steadfastness, and discipline? As long as I follow His greater purpose of serving others; I have faith that he will provide my needs. I may be digging for change in my car for gas money, but somehow it is enough to get me where I need to go (but not always where I want to go).
Humans struggle to believe God can and wants to use us in our ordinary, daily lives. However, 1 Peter 4:10 explains how even the mundane can be an act of worship, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” With our heart in the right place, washing dishes can be a godly act of service! Colossians 18-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” In modeling Christ’s life of servant/leader we can demonstrate to others God’s love in even practical tasks. Serve in a needy community and your heart will be transformed. “If a man shuts his ears to the cries of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13 Volunteers serving the less fortunate see first hand how blessed they truly are. “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and they darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.” Isaiah 58:10-11 In summary, “Give yourselves completely to God—every part of you…to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for his good purposes.” Romans 6:13 The journey to recovery begins with the first step of obediently following God’s purpose for your life.