Life free of depression. It makes perfect logical sense in our human minds, thinking and wisdom. Doesn’t it? However, the Lord God has a different way looking at human suffering and depression. He, most often, puts us people through those things which can cause depression if your a Christian. With the rising rates of people with depression (here in the USA, it’s astronomical), depression seems to have no cure, especially when you are looking in the wrong place. Know it is so common that here in the USA, it is part of your everyday medical doctor check-up. And if you dare signify that you are suffering from depression, medical doctors have a whole slew of anti-depressive medications coming your way. But what they don’t tell you is each drug has multiple side effects. But wait a minute. We have got to take a look at Scripture first.
Scripture is most accurate of what each Christian life should look like. I am talking about Genesis through Revelation without the Apocrypha. It is filled with true stories about how the Christian life is not easy. However, let me just concentrate on the Old Testament book of Job. In the book of Job, it says that God was pleased with Job as it says in Job 1:8:
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (ESV)
Then Satan retorted in verses 9-12:
Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:9-12 ESV)
Even after losing his children and property and all that comes with it, Job still wouldn’t curse God as Satan has another confrontation with God in Job 2:1-8:
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord , and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord . And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he (Job) took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. (Job 2:1-8 ESV)
That sounds pretty painful, something that causes depression due to the amount of suffering that Job was going through. Yet, if for those of us that are novice to reading Scripture, the incidents that happened to Job took many years. Although the Scripture is lacking in time sequences concerning the whole Book of Job, you should you read it. And if you do, I promise that you would be wiser for it. For the novice, The Book of Job is happening in present time; I would caution you, gowever, that the whole incident took many years even decades. Can you imagine that? Years upon years, decades upon decades, that he “didn’t curse God and die” (Job 2:9).
I remember this date like the back of my hand because it was my 7th birthday, and I remember the Sunday evening service I decided to put my trust in Jesus Christ because of the evil picture I had of Satan in my mind. It was due to the preacher that I was scared into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, I have a problem in using scare tactics for holy purposes, but I will never regret the decision that I made that night. However, my life was free to make a decision of what I wanted to become when I grew up, I thought.
At the age of 9, I remember being taken to a Thunderbird showing of the United States Air Force. I was immediately captured. I wanted to become a pilot. Two years I got to hold onto that dream, but I got glasses, which you have to have perfect eye-sight to become an Air Force pilot. Number 1 dream crushed. Then 2 years later, I developed type 1 diabetes, which put my service to this country to a definite halt.
Continuously, I cried out to God until, one Sunday evening service, I dedicated my life to God. That happened when I was 13. Approximately 16 months later, I received a calling to serve after school. I was so excited, but God didn’t give me any place to serve. Odd, but I thought that God didn’t want me unhappy to serve Him. So I was already in youth group at my church, and I really liked it. So I made the conclusion that God wanted me to become a youth pastor.
After sharing with a couple of close friends, my youth pastor, and a few elders at my church, news of my calling spread like wildfire. Onto preaching sermonettes at my own youth group, my church, and other churches, regional competitions, youth retreats, and summer camps. Each time I preached, the Holy Spirit kept on putting away my fears and doubts as to my calling, I thought. The top brass of the northeastern part of the denomination I was in personally had heard my name, and although you would think that I would be proud of all that I through the Holy Spirit in me, I used it as part of my confirmation. Then three weeks before I was to graduate from high school, I had a dream that I couldn’t wake up from.
Specifically, I remember lying down in a hospital with no movement, even though I tried. I tried and tried to wake up from this horrible nightmare but didn’t. I will never forget that dream, yet it came true. Nearly 5 weeks later of that dream I couldn’t wake up from, I found out that I was in a car accident in which I suffered a traumatic brain injury in which I spent a month in a coma needing significant rehabilitation.
However, it took about 2-3 weeks of in-patient rehabilitation for me to gain all the information I needed to make this determination that I was either in this “hellish” dream, or it was for real. It was evening, in my wheelchair, in the rehabilitation hospital bedroom, letting my meal rest in my stomach, and just letting my thoughts come together, I called out to God in prayer saying, “God, I have tried to honor You in all that I say or do. Please wake me up out of this dream, but if not, please give me the strength to deal with all You want me to go through. Amen.”
Thirty years later and still disappointed that it was not a dream/nightmare, my life post-accident has not been easy. It is so oppressive, suicidal temptations has crossed my mind more than once. Yes, I said suicide. Also, I am for sure Satan paid a visit to my rehabilitation room putting doubts of how worthless I am when I was still confused if whole accident thing was a dream or not. Once Satan did that, I think my mind took over the rest, thinking how worthless I am. Yet, Jesus Christ died for all of us, including me. In my soul, I know that I am loved by Jesus Christ, but with all the rest of my physical body doubts arise of who I am. Then there is Satan which adds to the problem of self-worth.
Yet, I think of God and the Scripture that says He the not give you more than you can handle; my wife and my 2 children and the rest of my family; the money spent to keep me alive; my physical life for God and His church, I think suicide is the cheap way out and is of the most selfish acts that physical people can do. That said, I at times go through the temptations of suicide. Although Scripture doesn’t condone suicide, it is part of our fallen nature ever since Adam and Eve took a bite of that forbidden fruit. I am sure Job had temptations of suicide when he was going through the evil things that Satan heaped upon him.
If you read The Story of Job, you will find out that the Lord God answers Job after some lengthy recorded conversations with some friends. For upon first reading, God answers him not in compassion but of how great He is (Job 38-42:6). But then in Job 42:7-17, God reprimands Job’s friends, accepts Job’s prayer of forgiveness for his friends, restores Job’s fortune, and he lived 140 additional years to enjoy the restored earthly wealth that the Lord God had given him plus he got to live to see his son’s sons to the 4th generation (Job 42:16).
My encouragement for you today, if you happen to think Christianity Is Suppossed To Offer You A Life Free Of Depression, Isn’t It?, I can assure you it’s not. As someone whose going through Job-like trials, all I can do is urge you to have confidence in the Lord God that He knows what He is doing, that He can see further into your life than you can, don’t go with anything that doesn’t match up with the totality of Scripture, and earthy live until you earthy die by natural causes.
In fact, I am going through the end of feeling worthless right now. Traumatic Brain Injury takes much more from you than you can imagine, and because I received my traumatic brain injury when I was fresh from graduating high school, I will never know what it is like to hold a full-time, good-paying career; to feel the freedom of being faster when I talk and get things done; to be free of my right-sided weakness cause I had a left frontal cranial injury; to be able to talk as normal not having to worry about expressive aphasia; my body being slower than molasses running down a hill; the frustration of being able to remember how fast I was pre-accident and in the position I am in now; and I could go on and on. However, the biggest one to take a hit was my self-esteem.
In this age, self-esteem is all the rage. If you don’t have it, then it’s like the proverbial “they” will almost beat it into you. But see, I am a Christian where you are supposed to look out for others. Love God, first and the look out and love others (Matthew 22:37-40), which includes putting others before myself. Although it is not that way in the world. The world’s view is limited, but God’s view is eternal.
Let me leave you with one last plea: Christianity Isn’t Supposed To Be A Life Free of Depression, it is supposed to be walked as Jesus Christ walked it, all the way to the cross just like in 1 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps” (ESV).
~ Love you all! Darren L. Beattie