In trying to look at this problem, can I suggest that we can’t base our life on emotions. Some people are very emotional, others not. What I’m talking about is that Christians can base life on truth, not on feelings. Scripture says to rejoice in the Lord always. Not an easy instruction because life is not always a happy experience. So, whether we feel like it or not, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 4:4) That will help chase the blues away. James in his epistle says to consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way (James 1:2)….doesn’t seem to make sense: but with Jesus Christ as Saviour, it is possible to be positive. Choosing to trust truth rather than your feelings may require a lot of faith. But it could be the cure for depression. Trusting what God says rather than your feelings is certainly a more realistic approach to life. It’s more than a vague hope that He will somehow pull you through your dark times. We can’t ignore God’s principles for healthy living. If we reject the good advice from the Bible, we won’t escape the consequences, even if we do have faith.
Have you ever tried to praise God in spite of what’s happening around you? Those who try it say it works, and the results are amazing. God’s Word says “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Maybe hard to do, but it’s worth the try.
Because depression has become such a problem today, many people are seeking professional help. Doctors are seeing more and more patients suffering from depression. They have no energy and cannot feel the whole range of basic human emotions. Some sadly choose suicide while others cut themselves off from friends and family.
Because the Bible is God’s Word, it tells of people who suffered depression, although in those days it wasn’t called depression. And I’m thinking of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, the most outstanding of the prophets. He had long thick hair and tremendous courage. He came into Israel’s history like a storm, and was God’s mouthpiece pronouncing judgement on a people who worshipped other gods. He was the most amazing man of his generation. Yet he also experienced great loneliness, discouragement, and depression. One day he met 450 prophets of Baal, a false god, for a duel on Mt Carmel, and in dramatic fashion, proved the power of Jehovah, Almighty God. But the King of Israel’s wife was after his blood and he fled for his life into the wilderness. He was afraid and came to a tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:3-4). After a draining emotional experience on Mt Carmel, Elijah was exhausted, physically and emotionally. He didn’t want to eat, only to lie down and sleep. And that’s what happens today. Depression often involves loss of motivation, appetite. But the story doesn’t end there. God came to Elijah at his time of need and encouraged him to eat and sleep, and to have a long walk. God was very patient and understanding, and allowed Elijah to pour out his emotions. In fact God healed Elijah of his depression. “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11). There was a wind, earthquake, fire and then silence. The Lord was in the gentle whisper of that silent moment as He came to Elijah at the cave’s entrance. A depressed man listened to God and was restored. He learned that day that God is not only present in miraculous, sensational events, but also in the silence and stillness.
Ever felt like Elijah? Come to the end of your own ability to think straight because of personal stress and difficulties? Elijah was such a driven person, he had to stop. He had to put the handbrake on. He was severely depressed. Many things in life cannot be accomplished unless we stop and listen to God’s still voice…perhaps your life is too busy for faith in God. George Fox, a well known Quaker used to say “Carry some quiet around inside yourself”. And I think that’s terrific advice. Silence encourages deep feeling and deep thoughts, and we ignore this at our own peril. It’s in the quiet time that God’s will is discovered and our emotional balance is restored. Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Discipline” said “in contemporary society, the devil majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in “Muchness” and “manyness”, he will rest satisfied”. That’s why Elijah was depressed. He was physically exhausted and needed a new focus. And God came to him. And it’s a great truth to know God loved Elijah regardless of how this man felt. Our God does not just love us when we are going well. He loves us all the time, and especially when we have times when life gets all topsy turvey. God loves depressed people.