22 May 2022

CHURCH WEEKLY

OVERCOMING A DEPRESSIVE MOOD

Dear Members in Christ,

Overcoming a Depressive Mood

It is not uncommon to hear the phrase, “I am depressed,” or someone saying, “my family situation is depressing.” These are words of despair, from hearts that are afflicted, often with an inner pain that is indescribable. Often the person uttering these words are in a state of depression, and they exhibit an outlook of helplessness and hopelessness. However, the Bible tells us, “rejoice evermore”, and we often hear that Christians ought to have fruitful lives because the joy of the Lord is our strength. So the question frequently asked is, do Christians fall into depression? Is it possible for one who is saved by grace to be overwhelmed by anxiety and depression?

The answer to this question is answered in the many examples in the Bible of God’s servants who under times of great distress, expressed this state of fear and anxiety. We remember Elijah’s response when he knew of Jezebel’s threat to kill him, we read that,

”And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 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.   1 Kings 19:3,4

We also read of other bible characters such as King David, who, in certain psalms (e.g. Psalm 42) speaks of his downtrodden spirit. Today’s article examines some of the signs of characters in the Bible who fell downcast. Also, we may find within the Bible how these individuals seek comfort from God to overcome their depressive moods.  

A. What are the signs of a person in a depressive mood?

King David in Psalm 42 wrote “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

In this psalm, David expresses the feeling of being “cast down.” The word in Hebrew means to sink or to be brought down. In this instance, King David was feeling a sense of being distanced from God. He describes himself as being “disquieted” within, the word conveys a sense of inner turmoil and pain, and he longs to be restored.

How do we know when a person is in a depressive mood? In our daily lives, it is not uncommon to feel weariness, and we often hear someone saying, “I'm so tired with this work.” This happens to almost all of us and is not necessarily a sign of depression. It is just an expression of someone who is plain tired of the grind of daily labour. However, if the sense of weariness persists, it can hinder the person from functioning in whatever societal role the person is in. Sometimes, such persons show signs of prolonged weariness in their work and express a desire to quit and escape the situation. A person grieving for a departed loved one can feel a sense of pain and depression. Disappointments in life can set a person in a depressive mood. The threat of the loss of income, parents with misbehaving children, financial difficulties, etc… are some of the many situations that can drive a person to feel cast down.   

A housewife may show gross neglect for daily house chores, an employee may feel an overwhelming urge to just quit and run from the job. Or a person may just while away mindless hours playing on social media or surfing the internet. The feeling of “I must escape this situation!”. It can be a very horrifying experience for some.

B. Help and strength from the word of God.

However helpless one may feel, we can be assured that God cares for us and He has given His word to guide us. As we have read in the account of Elijah, he was in such a dire strait that he wished to be taken away, as he says, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” Up to that point in time, Elijah’s prophetic ministry was brilliant, but the threat by Jezebel had very quickly reduced this spiritual giant to one praying and crying for help. If anyone is in such difficulty, whatever your situation may be, do not despair!

The word of God gives us comfort and guidance in all circumstances. When King David felt “cast down,” his solution was to pray and seek help from God. David writes “Hope thou in God” a phrase which points the believer to seek God. God is his sole “help.” The first place to look for help is to pray for peace and calm. As a consequence, one should also pray to God for direction and guidance.

Another avenue of help is from mature Christians, members of the body of Christ. There is some relief if we have help from a brother or a sister who can lend a kind ear, share a bible passage and pray with us. Let us be mindful of one another’s spiritual needs and state of mind.

Let us look to God always for help, and let us love and bear one another's burdens. May God be praised. Amen.

In Christ,
Dn. Lim Seh Beng