Roman 5:2b-4 And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (NKJV)
Occasionally, when my schedule dictates, I send out a letter of encouragement instead of a devotional. This is more of a letter of explanation.
Yesterday’s devotional about disobedience and its connection to fear, doubt and depression resulted in an expected rebuke from many readers. It surrounded the remark in my devotional that most Christians who experience depression, the “blues”, pessimism and doubt, do so because something is lacking in their spiritual life.
When I say “the blues”, I am generally including the attitude of pessimism, discontent, worry, fear and anxiety in its various forms and degrees. It most certainly also includes the epidemic “poor me” attitude that never quite sees life as good enough. So many people feel sorry for their life and this attitude keeps record numbers of people focused solely on their own problems and how life should be better (which means easier, more comfortable and more fun).
I purposely chose not to detail the “exceptions” yesterday because it is human nature to immediately claim to be the exception when it comes to admitting that a spiritual deficiency is the source of emotional or attitude problems. It’s much easier to blame it on a chemical imbalance, syndrome or other external causes.
So I made a calculated choice to let the statement stand yesterday without explanation or preface knowing that I would be clarifying it today. I prayed that more readers would consider what I presented before claiming to be the exception.
What are the exceptions to my statement? They are those who experience depression, fear, anxiety or worry because of:
- A variety of truly biological reasons such as physical trauma, sickness or chemical imbalance. If you truly have a physiological depression, my comments don’t apply to your situation except in the sense that God is still your source of strength even while medication may be an appropriate help.
- Prolonged suffering, persecution, trials or traumatic events such as endured by the Apostle Paul, Job or Elijah. (But they did not continually live in sorrow or depression; they experienced it, and with God’s power moved on. Sorrow is not depression, even though it can lead to it). If you have the relationship with God that Paul, Job or Elijah had, then you are an exception to my point.
Having said that, even if you have a genuine physiological depression, there is no Biblical precedent to live in it for a prolonged period (James 1:2; Col 1:24). There is nothing God cannot bring us through. He has promised not to hand us anything we can’t endure (1Cor 10:13) victoriously. We are to press on (Phil 2:12-14), leaving the past behind looking forward to the goal.
With that clarification communicated, let me restate my original premise: the overwhelming majority of Christians who live in depression, unhappiness, pessimism, and worry do so because of a spiritual deficiency, be it a lack of knowledge, inadequate discipline or worldliness.
That is a truth that needs to be faced, not excused or medicated. Christians, of all people, should be joyful, happy, and filled with optimism about the future (1Pet 1:3-6; Phil 4:4)
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
My thoughts originally turned to this because of a popular radio ad I have heard countless times. It goes something like, “have you ever been blue? Are you ever worried? Do you ever have a bad day? Do you feel confused sometimes? Does life frequently seem hard? Then you may be suffering from depression and not even know it.“
Well based on that, we’re all suffering from depression. Depression and anxiety have become pretty lucrative industries, and the humanistic veiwpoint concerning fear, worry, anxiety and depression has replaced Biblical teaching, even in most Churches.
I appreciated all the responses I received yesterday. They were written with politeness and sincerity even when intensely disagreeing.
Have a wonderful time worshipping the Lord this weekend. How’s your prayer life? How’s your Bible study? Are you accountable to anyone?
Because of the love of Christ,