Can a Christian Suffer Depression?: Part 1

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Can a Christian Suffer Depression?

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Can a Christian Suffer Depression?: Part 1

MP4 Video - 1080p (66.81 MB)
MP4 Video - 720p (66.81 MB)
MP3 Audio (1.43 MB)
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Can you still be a Christian and still be depressed, discouraged, or sad?

Transcript

[Darris McNeely] One of our readers has written us, asking whether or not you can still be a Christian and suffer from depression. It’s a good question. It’s an important question. Every one of us find ourselves at times when we may be discouraged, we might go through a period of sadness. Winter comes in. sometimes around the holiday periods of Christmas and New Years in the world, people get very, very discouraged and depressed because they may not be with family. But can you be a Christian and still be depressed?

Let me first define some terms. There is a matter that is very clearly called “clinical depression”, where at times a person can sink into a very, very deep, depressed state, and sometimes that is caused by certain imbalances within the mind, the brain, the electrochemical matters of the aspects of the human mind that are in need of being diagnosed and treated by a qualified medical personnel, as well as sometimes even drugs. That’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here today, because there’s another aspect of depression that we could even call discouragement or sadness, where a person becomes discouraged over something that happens to their life, or a period that they go through, or an extreme period of sadness. I’ve had those moments where I’ve been discouraged and I’ve been sad for prolonged periods of time. I’ve never been clinically depressed. Likely many of you have fallen into both – either one of these two particular categories.

But what I’m wanting to focus on here today is the matter of being discouraged – which, again, can happen to any of us, but sometimes people wonder, can you still be a Christian and still be discouraged? Let me give you a story from the Bible. It’s one of my favorite ones regarding a servant of God. It’s in 1 Kings chapter 19 (1 Kings 19:1-21 1 Kings 19:1-21 [1] And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and with how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. [2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. [3] And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. [4] But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. [5] And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said to him, Arise and eat. [6] And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. [7] And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you. [8] And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. [9] And he came thither to a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, What do you here, Elijah? [10] And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. [11] And he said, Go forth, and stand on the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: [12] And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. [13] And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice to him, and said, What do you here, Elijah? [14] And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. [15] And the LORD said to him, Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when you come, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: [16] And Jehu the son of Nimshi shall you anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shall you anoint to be prophet in your room. [17] And it shall come to pass, that him that escapes the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. [18] Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him. [19] So he departed there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle on him. [20] And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray you, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you. And he said to him, Go back again: for what have I done to you? [21] And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave to the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.
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).

It’s a story, the well-known story of the prophet Elijah – beginning in verse 1. Elijah had confronted the prophets of Baal, he had brought down fire from heaven after shutting up the heavens for three and a half years, he had defeated them – it was a very intense, stressful period of time there, where on the mountain Elijah had confronted Jezebel’s prophets of Baal. When he defeated them – after that period of time – he experienced a downer. He was discouraged. Jezebel made a threat against his life and Elijah fled into the desert for a period of time, and he was all mixed up. He was confused, and actually, he was very, very depressed. He was not clinically depressed, but he was going through what we would call a period of discouragement. And he cries out to God and he says, “I’ve done all these great things, and I’ve done all these things, and now they want to take my life. I’ve served You, God, and now here’s what’s happened. I’m under threat and I have had to flee for my own life.”

Well, God appeared to him and He basically bucked him up. He revealed Himself to him in a series of miracles there on the mountain, and then He said to him, “Look, I have still seven thousand people in the land who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and they have not kissed the idol, and they have gone completely into idolatry” (1 Kings 19:18 1 Kings 19:18Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.
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). That must have encouraged Elijah at that moment in time.

The point is this: even servants of God – yes, Christians – can face moments when they may be down, discouraged, and distressed. And it’s – the key is knowing how to battle back from that and to deal with them to keep from going deeper into certain more serious levels of depression.

In my next Daily, I want to come back, and I want to give you some pointers from Christ and from the apostle Paul that help us to deal with this, and to show us that yes, we can deal with it and no, it does not mean that we are not a Christian if we find ourselves at times depressed, discouraged, or sad.

That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.

Comments

  • Darris McNeely
    Thanks David-John for your comment. You are right, if God is for us who can be against us. Glad to hear you persevered. God be with you!
  • DAVID-JOHN
    In 1996 I underwent a series of devastating events in my life. My wife terminally ill with a brain tumour that took her life in 1996, the loss of my job, held for over 23 years due to taking longer than the 12 months sabbatical I had requested to look after, loss of my home of that length of time as it was connected with my employment and facing up to raising two young children on my own. I had left the WWCG in 1991 and had no one to turn to. Yet I knew God was out there and He would not let me down, there had to be a reasoning for my life and what was happening to me and my young family. I didn't get depressed, I didn't despair I bought a derelict house and spent my time repairing, renovating and taking care of my responsibilities. I now have a lovely grandson and a wonderful home, and the United Church of God. I know I will one day meet my lovely wife again and help her in God. God is always there to assist us, to lift us and protect us, as the scripture says: What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
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