Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Depression - A Lack of Faith Or a Lack of Focus?

Psalms 143:7-12 (NLT)
7 Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don't turn away from me, or I will die.
8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.
10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
11 For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
12 In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant. (emphasis mine)

Times change...some people love it and some people hate it. Personally, I wish they would leave it alone. We could stay on standard time year round and I would be happy. Oh well, that won't happen and I am digressing with my thoughts today.

We have come to the time of year that we affectionately call the holidays. From now until the first of the next year, there will be parties, family gatherings, festivities and the like. During this time there will be lots of cooking and eating, gift exchanging, and many other activities that are to bring joy and happiness.
We have also come to the time of year that more people suffer from depression than any other time. The days are shorter which means less sunshine. People remember lost loved ones more during the holiday season. Families that are in turmoil create a sense of anxiety for the members. People just seem to be at a loss of purpose as well. Suicides and suicide attempts are actually higher during the winter months than any other time.

What depressing thoughts! I realize that what we want to be a happy time often turns into a very sad time. We actually have a disorder called SAD which means Seasonal Affective Disorder because of the lack of sunshine during the winter months and peoples response to that. One of my Facebook friends actually asked if he could be a rent a cave for hibernation during this time. I am not saying he suffers from SAD, but that is many people's attitudes about the fall and winter months.

Now that I have painted a very bleak picture of what might be my favorite time of the year, let me give some encouragement to all today. Many people suffer from all types of depression. If you watch TV at all, you have seen commercials for every kind of depression medication there is. If you suffer from chronic depression, you might need to see your doctor. But, most of the time the doctor will prescribe one of the medications without talking to you about the causes of depression or the effects of the medication. Medication which is good to help take the edge off of depression only masks the symptoms and does not heal depression.

Taking chemical imbalances as well as other biological reasons for depression out of the equation, the root cause of most depression (if not all) is rejection. With that in mind, let me ask you how do you feel rejected? Whom do you feel rejected by? OK, the counselor in me has to ask questions. Folks, what do we do with rejection? Many times we seek to get even with the person that we feel has rejected us. Many times we try to hide our true feelings and never express them in a constructive manner. A good definition of depression is internalized anger. Anger always has an object. Anger is not a sin as Paul writes "be angry and do not sin." We get angry when we feel someone has wronged us or rejected us and then we "swallow" that anger and allow it to fester inside. Now I am not saying that we need to attack the person that has rejected us. That would be sinning in our anger. I am saying that we need to express our hurt and then forgive the person who has rejected us. I know that is easier for me to write than for you to do. Yet it works. The psalmist in the passage above turns to the One who has never rejected him. David who is called a man after God's own heart felt depressed. Many of the biblical heroes of the faith felt depressed. Elijah even went so far as to hide in a cave. Peter was going to leave the ministry. David commits adultery after staying in bed till 3:00 in the afternoon. Many others suffer from depression throughout scripture.

I want you to know that I do not believe that it is a lack of faith to be depressed. I believe that it is a lack of focus. Elijah had the faith to raise people from the dead. He had the faith to call fire from heaven. He had the faith to ask God to stop it from raining for 3 ½ years and then to have it rain again. He outran a chariot. He was a man of faith who lost his focus. David had faith to kill a giant...he lost his focus. Peter walked on water and was the instrument to heal and bring Pentecost...he lost his focus.

David in this Psalm refocuses. Most of the time, we need to refocus so that we are not looking at the rejection all of the time or the hurt, but we look at the God of the universe who NEVER rejects us.

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