God’s promise to always be with His children is fulfilled by the indwelling Holy Spirit but the forces of evil all around us, remain active to lead us away from the presence of God. In such situation we are bombarded with thoughts of abandonment by all, including God, due to no perceived fault of ours. And then we start looking for a feeling of God’s presence with us rather than continue in faith. This isolation sometimes becomes so severe that the darkness overwhelms us and thoughts of escaping from all contact with others, becomes all pervasive.
Some years back I received a call past midnight from a believer young man who wanted to commit suicide at that very hour. The reason given was that his father, a very rich man, was creating pressure on him to achieve something big. My reply then and today is the same to go ahead immediately for with that the direct route to eternal hell fires would open and there would be no need for judgment from heaven. God has created us and given us this life with a definite task and any action on our part to interfere with that is direct revolt against God, a thing that the devil wants us to do.
Depression is like being in a hole out of which one is unable to come out and crying or being angry is of no help. It is difficult to understand for a person who does not have it and it is beyond expression. It is a mood disorder with both mental and physical effects, like being tied to very heavy weights that drag one down lower and lower and it does not go away despite living a good life. It causes numbness of body and soul, lethargy with very low energy levels
Biblical perspective of depression What does the Bible say about depression? – ‘Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression’ and Hebrew word ‘shacha’ used here means ‘to depress, bow down or prostrate’ (Proverbs 12:25). But depression as a word is new in origin and not found in the Bible, though people did struggle with it since early years of life on the earth. Sarah was afflicted for not bearing a child (Genesis 16); Rachael and Leah both suffered this for different reasons and Rachel told Jacob, while envying Leah, her sister, ‘Give me children, or else I die’ (Genesis 30:1). The first king of Israel, Saul was afflicted by a distressing spirit which left him when David played on the harp and Saul would become refreshed and well (1 Samuel 16:23). Judas Iscariot went back to the Chief Priests feeling remorseful for betraying innocent blood, threw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple and went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5). Depression in the Scripture is also referred to as demon possession or demonic control.
Lord Jesus’ call to the ‘weary and burdened’ to take His yoke is in recognition of the malaise afflicting the world and His promise of being ‘gentle and humble in heart’ and give rest to the soul is the remedy (Matthew 11:28-30).
But what is the burden and weariness? – Apostle Paul lists out all that we fight against as a believer – strongholds, imaginations and supposedly high things and thoughts of disobedience to Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The sufferer is unable to correctly perceive his situation where everything appears to be black and what is white appearing to be beyond grasp.
This is a battle which cannot be fought alone and support of others is needed but then who to turn to is a difficult to answer question for everyone appears to be against us. The best option is to turn to God who promises to be with each of us in every situation.
How does God help in depression? – Cause of depression is basically a stronghold created in the individuals mind about a perception of everyone being against him and this is the work of the devil. Lord Jesus suffered the worst form of abandonment, much beyond all that we are ever going to suffer. The disciples went to sleep rather than praying with and for Him in Gethsemane Park and everyone deserted Him while Apostle Peter denied Him three times (Luke 22:40-46). On the cross, even the heavenly Father turned His face from the Son for our sin was heaped on Him and He became sin for us. In any situation that we may face, Apostle Paul’s advice is, ‘Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased’ (Hebrews 13:16). Lord Jesus did exactly what He preached, forgiveness and surrender to do God’s will.
During canoeing in a hilly terrain one is likely to reach a sudden and steep water fall and if the canoe falls at a little distance, one carries on with the flow of water. But closer to the point of the waterfall, the water forms a spiral whirlpool, and if one falls at that spot, the only way then is to abandon the boat. Any attempt to fight the spiral action of the water will keep one locked in that. Surrender to the current is the only alternative since after two or three rounds, water has to move on to make way and it will throw the person up to move with the flow and one is saved. In the same way when stuck in the deep hole of depression surrender to the Lord and He will save.
But do we really know and trust the Lord? – Apostle John had a vision and saw in heaven, in the midst of the throne of God, and of the four seraphim and the twenty four elders, ‘stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll’. The important points of this vision – the sacrificed Lamb still bears the wounds of His crucifiction as if it is of today and God remembers this every day as a blessing to all believers. The sacrifice of the Lord we know is still fresh before God with its resultant blessings.
The revelation was given to a Jew and though meant for the entire mankind, it is about the Son of God who was born into a Jewish family. Number seven for Jews is a number of completion and perfection and the horns signify strength and power and the eyes represent knowledge and its processed form as wisdom. The Lamb had to bear all the wrath of God to become the Lion, endowed with all power and authority. After resurrection and ascension His power, knowledge and His wisdom is absolute and perfect which cannot be bettered. The proof is the handing over of the seven seals bearing scroll to Him by God.
Power of the word – Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Apostle John and ‘out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword’ (Revelation 1:16). The Greek word ‘rhomphaia’ means a ‘long, heavy sword used to kill and destroy’ and His word has the power to destroy all opposition from evil forces. In like manner the sword of the Spirit, a weapon given to a believer is a ‘machaira’ a short dagger or sword to stab or wound, for our opposition is relatively much less and we do not have the authority to kill and destroy which involves judgment. Lord Jesus declared this same fact that all authority in heaven and earth is now vested in Him and He has promised to be with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). When we surrender to Him realizing His power and authority, He assumes the role of my Shepherd to protect me from all evil and in every situation. His power then operates through what I speak in His name and in this way I start exerting dominance over my situation.
The desired attitude to overcome depression – First, realize and accept that those who leave me are not required to be with me and I do not need them. God is fully in control and it may be that they do or will need me and the more I will chase them, the more they will turn away from me. I have the Lord with me and in me and He is more than what I need. But this does not mean that I shun the company of everyone and stop meeting people, for someone else might need my help. Second, I must become a Samaritan, the one group that was hated by the Jews but the Lord has a special love for the forsaken. Look at the woman on the well and the people of her village near Jacob’s well, for the Savior Lord took that route specially for them (John 4). Third, I have the Holy Spirit as my Helper to empower and fill me with His love and His power was revealed in the resurrection of the Lord (John 14:26). In same manner He is able and ready to take me out of the darkness of this deep well of depression, if I let Him.
Four, In the Military academy we were to pillow fight an opponent while perched on a wooden beam and the one who fell down first was the loser.
The Devil is trying to get me down and keep me there but the Lord is my strength and shield (Psalm 18:2). I must bring Him before me as a shield and thus protected, I would hit out my opponent and make him fall and with him get rid of my thoughts of weakness. Five, I will not let anyone pity me for God’s promise is that ‘those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they shall soar on wings like eagles’ (Isaiah 40:31). I will also rise to great heights like a phoenix for my Savior Lord gives me strength and wings. Six, as per His promise the Lord moves ahead of me, straightening the paths for me and I have to follow Him under His protection (Isaiah 45:2). The closer to Him I get, the better and sure is the help and farther from me, will run the devil.
In the illustration, God is on the top of the triangle and Satan wants to keep raising the height of the triangle by keeping me engaged in battle with my partner or friends or associates. I must look unto the Lord and remain focused on Him and keep moving closer to Him to crush the devil under the weight of His Divine glory.
Seven, faith is my biggest weapon. Prophet Jeremiah was put into an underground pit with no water but only filth and left to die. But God arranged for pulling him out of that place and rescuing him and God does not change and He will come to my rescue also (Jeremiah 38:6 & 13).
Someone or something can affect me only as much as I allow him to do. The Scripture says, ‘LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart, You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more (Psalm 10:17-18). Lord Jesus is my Lord and Savior and He is ever ready to pull me out of the pit of depression.
God redeemed His chosen people, the Israelites, from the slavery of the Egyptians with a mighty hand performing great miracles, destroying their economy and the fighting potential. To prepare them for facing the opposition of those living in the Promised Land, He took them on a longer route. They faced the Red Sea in front while the Pharaoh’s army was behind to take them back into captivity. Moses advice to them, to be still and see that the LORD will fight for you, is applicable to us also in every situation. God’s love for us immeasurable and He will not fail us ever!