Last week I introduced a problem that many Christians are facing today. We started looking at the fact that depression in robbing many Christians of their joy. The reality is depression on some level affects more people that heart attacks do. Let that sink in for a moment. While we talk big about the dangers of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity etc most Americans will actually suffer from depression at one point or another in their lives.
When Robin Williams took his life a couple of weeks ago it brought this serious condition to the national scene. And the reality is, many Christians simply havenít handled this situation correctly. Some are proclaiming that he was stupid. Some are proclaiming that anyone that suffers with depression is faithless. Some are proclaiming that he ďtook the easy way out.Ē In the end, I have seen too many comments void of compassion these last two weeks. Jesus was a compassionate man. He didnít revel in the thought that people were made weak, either by weak faith, weak physical health, or weak mental health.
If you know someone who is suffering with depression, rather than blasting them, help them. Donít give them another reason to be depressed by telling them it is their fault. Rather, help then to find hope.
As I mentioned in last weekís bulletin, most people who suffer with depression are not faithless, but hopeless. That is, their hope is gone. Hope is a joyful expectation. Think of the expectant mother. She is exuberant. She longs for that day she can hold that precious baby in her arms. That is joy. A person suffering with depression has a hard time seeing hope in the lives because so much wrong is going on. Perhaps they are being abused. Perhaps they have lost a loved one. Perhaps some disease is riddling their body (something we found out this week about Robin Williams). These problems are not in their head. They are real. Real problems donít just go away. So, telling a person to ďget over itĒ doesnít work. However, showing a person how to be filled with hope again does work. They can help them to keep the feeling of sinking at bay. Let us now look at some different things we can do
Step one is to rejoice in the Lord always again I say rejoice. These are Paulís words in Phil. 4:4. I know it sounds silly to tell a person who is sad to just be happy. But that is not what I am saying. Paul doesnít just say be happy. He says rejoice in the Lord. True joy comes from a right relationship with God. True happiness is found being made happy (or blessed as blessed literally means) by God. If you are suffering with depression you need to change your perspective. Rather than focusing upon the hardships that are dragging you down, try focusing upon the blessings that God has given you to lift you up. Consider the fact that you can have eternal life. Remember that Jesus loved you so much that he gave his life for you. Never forget that God thinks that you are so valuable he was willing to permit his son, no send his son, to die for you. Chivalry is nearly dead in this country, yet every Lord ís Day we gather and remember the most chivalrous man to walk this earth. He loved you, cared for you, and valued you so much he would die so that you donít have to. Donít ever lose sight of that.
Step two is to count your blessings. As we sometimes sing, ďCount Your Blessings, Name them One by One.Ē You should do that. Count them. Sit down and make a list. Write down 100 blessings that God gave you and then every morning pray thanking God for each and every one of those blessings. While this doesnít make the realities of your life go away, it does help you to see that not everything is going wrong in your life. When suffering with depression that is often how we get. We say things like, ďCanít anything ever go right for me.Ē Well, the answer to that is yes. Yes they can. Yes they are. But, when suffering from depression, we donít usually see it. All we see is the things going wrong. So, every morning before the world takes its toll upon you, sit down and thank God for every blessing.
Step three is to do something for someone else. Elijah was depressed. Anyone that prays for death is. God told Elijah he had work to do. God sent Elijah to anoint a new prophet and to anoint a new king. Elijah brought blessings to others and found himself busy doing the Lordís work. By bringing blessings to others it does help to keep depression at bay. It is hard to put a smile on a personís face without putting one on your own. Now, I realize that Robin Williams brought smiles to lots of people and he still ended his own life. There is a difference in making a person laugh and smile for a few seconds and bringing them a lasting smile. When you bring a blessing to someoneís life you are bringing something that is lasting. Elijah anointed two men, that blessing lasted the rest of their lives. If we want to help keep our depression at bay, donít superficially cover the depression by making a joke, rather bring real blessings. Mow someoneís yard. Have someone over for dinner. Take them out for cup of coffee. Share the gospel with them.
Now, none of these steps will make your problems go away. What they will do is make it so that you can have the strength to deal with the problem(s). But in the end, you must tackle the issue that is causing you such sorrow. Next week, I hope to share with you some steps to help you do that very thing.
Grinnell church of Christ
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Depression is No Laughing Matter part 2
Volume 5 Issue 37