I think I’m right in saying that nearly everyone feels down sometimes. It’s part of everyday life that things don’t always go smoothly and the usual sense of happiness and well-being evaporates.
And that’s when we feel down. You know what it’s like when someone in the family misunderstands you or angry words are exchanged. And for the rest of the day you might feel anxious or sad.
So, what I’m saying is, we all feel a bit miserable or a bit down in the mouth from time to time. There’s not much you can do about it. But depression is another matter entirely. And studies have shown that depression of some degree is very common among Australian adults, even if figures vary from report to report.
But there is some good news. Even God’s great people became depressed as the Bible shows. So if you feel depressed today, you are in good company.
Health professionals today are very concerned about the growing problem of depression. A National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing revealed that over 12 months, one in 16 Australian adults would experience clinical depression. Other studies talk of one in five. So whatever is correct, one thing remains consistent: depression and anxiety are the most common of all mental health complaints.
Winston Churchill suffered depression and called it ‘the black dog’. Perhaps you know what he means. I read of a 23-year-old girl who sat down and wrote of her feelings, describing depression as “…walking through life with no sense of being or direction. I travel through my days like a zombie only achieving basic day to day tasks through sheer habit”. It’s an awful feeling, a sense of despair and lack of interest in life. Sufferers lose confidence in themselves and can’t enjoy the good or simple things in life.
God Understands How We Feel
No-one is immune from depression, for it affects people of all ages, including Christians. Some people feel a sense of shame saying I’m a committed Christian and go to church. Yet I still feel depressed. We’re all human, and depression occurs for a variety of reasons including grief, pain, financial crisis, which can strike any of us. Sometimes our mind and emotions become as dysfunctional as our organs and muscles, and we need help. It is not correct to say, Because I am a Christian I will never suffer depression.
The wonderful fact is that God understands how we feel at times like this. After all, he made us and knows what makes us tick and can help in the dark times of life.
As I read my Bible I read between the lines when thinking of the Apostle Paul. It seems fairly obvious he felt depressed at different times in his life. When working for God in Asia he wrote to the church at Corinth: “We want to remind you, friends, of the trouble we had in the province of Asia. The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive. We felt that the death sentence had been passed on us.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9 – GNT).
These were difficult days for Paul and his supporters. Another time he was in jail—alone, bored, cold, and probably depressed. In his note to Timothy he asked if his coat and books could be brought to him (2 Timothy 4:13). He needed a lift in spirit and turned to his friends for a bit of comfort.
So in trying to look at this problem, can I suggest that we really can’t base our life on emotions—some people are emotional and others are not.