David Jeremiah - Depression: The Fear of Mental Breakdown
From the celebration of marriage to the pain of divorce, from the joy of a baby's birth to the grief of a loved one's passing, life is filled with ups and downs. But what if you were so consumed with sorrow, you couldn't experience joy? For those with depression, life isn't a cycle of highs and lows. It's a flatline of sadness, anxiety, and fear. Did you know fear is at the heart of depression? We'll see that as we continue our series, "What Are You Afraid Of? Facing Down Your Fears With Faith". I'll introduce you to individuals from Scripture whose fear led them into depression and desperation, yet through their lives, God shows us the way out of depression and into a rich, rewarding life. So, don't miss today's message, Depression: The Fear of Mental Breakdown next right here on "Turning Point".
The dictionary defines depression as low spirits, gloomy feelings, dejection, sadness, a condition marked by feelings of worthlessness, failure, and accompanying guilt. You may wonder why I would even address such a subject, why I would talk about something that can be so dark? Well, let me tell you for a few moments why I am doing this as I express to you the epidemic of depression in our culture today. Today, more than one out of every 20 Americans, adults, are treated for depression during their lifetime. Worldwide there are 121 million people who are suffering from depression as I speak.
The experience of depression is simply this, that depression is a human problem, a fact of life that shouldn't surprise us when we realize that we are imperfect people. We live with other imperfect people in an imperfect world. And when we open our Bibles, we discover a long line of people who struggled with depression. Here from Psalm 32 as an illustration. He says, "When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me, God; And my vitality was turned into the drought of summer". People in the Bible were depressed. I remember telling you that in the Bible, over 200 people are said to have been afraid, and that it wasn't just the peripheral people, but it's the main people, the expression of depression.
There are many expressions in church history and in the Bible, but none are more poignant than the one recorded for us in Job chapter 3, and our biblical character today is none other than Job himself. As you know the story of Job, as the book begins, Job stands naked before his God. Anything or anyone who he might have counted on for help or encouragement has been taken from him. If you read the first two chapters, it's hard to comprehend what it must have been like. A servant would come and tell him of one tragedy and before that servant could leave, another servant would come and tell him up something else that he had lost. And one after another, Job was reduced until there was nothing left. His wealth was gone, his health was gone, his children were gone, his wife has abandoned him, his misery is indescribable, his outlook is hopeless, and while he rejects the advice of Satan and his wife to curse God and die, Job is despairing of his life.
The terrible disasters that are described in the first two chapters are over. Job has managed to weather them with his piety intact, but now the battle has shifted from the outside of his life to the inside of his life. Now it is Job's inner life, his very soul that is under direct attack. And in the third chapter, he cries out in three laments about what it's like to be where he is. And anyone who has ever been depressed or has known people who have been depressed and have walked through depression with them, will understand completely why Job is lamenting as he is. Let's look at what he says. His first lament in verses 1 through 3, we might title it, Why Did I Arrive? He says, "After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job spoke, and said: 'May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, A male child is conceived.'"
Job begs that the night of his conception and the day of his birth be blotted from the calendar. These words are the words of a man who is so broken that he no longer cares what he says. Later on in his book, he said, and he spoke with rashness, but he just spoke honestly, that's what he felt. He said, "Lord God, why did I even have to be born? Why did I arrive"? His second lament takes it to the next level. "Why did I survive"? Verse 11 he says, "Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? Lord, if I had to be born, why couldn't I have just died at childbirth"? And then he takes it to the final question, the third lament, "Why am I alive"? Verse 20, and 21 of the 3rd chapter, "Why is light given to him who is in misery, And life to the bitter of soul, Who long for death, but it does not come, And search for it more than hidden treasures".
Job's third cry is one that is very common today. Job is saying, "Since I had to be born and I couldn't die in childbirth, why can't I just die now"? Not until the end when Job has endured everything that you can imagine did God finally communicate with him, and he suffered like you will not believe. Could I just pause here for a moment and say, it is a wonderful gift to us that God has put the Book of Job in the Bible because it reminds us that if we suffer, we are not the only ones. If we go through dark seasons of life, if, as a Saint John of the cross said, we live the dark night of the soul, we have been preceded by others who have gone before us, and the record is here. Why would God allow this book to be in the Bible if for no other reason than to encourage us? In fact, if you think you're having a bad day, read the Book of Job and you will feel better about yourself immediately.
Remind you now, Job was not depressed because of what had happened. He was depressed because he couldn't figure out why it happened. The reality is that godly believers sometimes get depressed. As you examine depression, you discover that sooner or later, people who know the Lord can find themselves going through a difficult moment, a down moment, a depressing moment. Depression has been called the common cold of the soul. Now, I'm gonna answer some questions. Why do people get depressed? I need you to understand, friends, I'm a teacher of the Word of God. I'm a pastor. I'm not here to solve all the problems people have through depression. I'm not an expert on depression. I am just a pastor, and I want to help you. So, my counsel's gonna be rather general and as much as possible, based upon what I've learned from the Scripture and from life.
But let me tell you why people get depressed. First of all, sometimes people get depressed for situational reasons, for situational reasons. I mean, let's face it, folks, if you were Job, would you be depressed? I guess sometimes depression is systemic, by that I mean, it has something to do with what's going on in your system. This is often a surprise to many people. Sometimes there are systemic reasons. One of my favorite sayings goes like this, our souls and our bodies live so close together that they catch each other's diseases. Did you know that? We all know that. How many of you know that when you don't feel good physically, it's hard to feel good spiritually, isn't that true? And let me just tell you something, there are things that can go on in the human body that can create depression, hormonal imbalance, dietary issues, all of these things can contribute to the moods that you feel.
And before you go any further, if you have these bouts in your life, check it out, make sure there's nothing going on. Sometimes there are satanic reasons. I mean, the Book of Job is certainly an illustration of that. Here we see Satan that work more than in any other book in the Bible. Do you know that at the beginning, Satan makes a deal with God? He says, "Let me have Job and I'll show you he's not as hot as you think he is. Let me have Job. Let me let me cause suffering in Job's life and you'll find out that this guy Job that you think is the greatest God, your number-one a pupil, he will curse you, and you just wait and see.
Now, the interesting thing about this is that God and Satan knew what was going on. They had this deal, but God never told Job. Job never didn't know about the deal that God had made with Satan to allow Satan to test Job and prove his integrity. Sometimes Satan will try to cause sadness in your life. Satan doesn't usually have anything to do with the bad things that happen, he comes in afterwards to make you misinterpret the bad things that happen. He comes in afterwards and says, "God doesn't love you as much as he used to," or, "God doesn't care about you. And he's not really interested at all". And so, Satan uses the tragedy, which he may not have caused, as a talking point in your life to bring depression into your heart. Don't let him do that. Sometimes there are spiritual reasons for depression. If God has allowed a dark time in your life and there's no evidence that you know of of any reason for it, just know that he's up to something and at the end, as we'll see in the life of Job, when the test is finished, you will be better than you were before.
Now, let's talk about the expectations of depression. Someone has described this phenomenon in nautical terms like this, "The height of the wave determines the depth of the valley that follows it". And the opposite is also true, sometimes the depth of the valley is a promise of the blessing to come. How many of you know life is lived in a rhythm? There's a rhythm about life. Let's get to understand that when it comes to what we're talking about today. You remember when the Lord Jesus was baptized and God broke heaven's silence and said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". And the next verse says, "And Satan took him to the wilderness and tempted him for forty days". After a major mountaintop experience, we need to be ready to face the valley. We were not created to live on the mountain all the time. We weren't created to live in the valley all the time. Life has rhythm to it. Can I get a witness? Everybody got that? The expectations.
Now, let's talk about the elimination of depression. And I'm just gonna give you some thoughts that I think might be helpful. Please understand, and let's look up here for just a moment. If you have severe depression, if you suffer depression that is debilitating, that means you can't work or you have days when you can't function, do not, whatever you do, do not go and get some help. But I am telling you some things you can do to help when these moments come, but I am not trying to stand in the place of a of a doctor. I'm not a doctor. And I would hate for you to leave here and think that this is all there is. No, if you have severe depression, you need to find medical help, and don't be ashamed to do it. Remember all of these great people who have suffered with the same thing you suffer with. But having said all of that, here's some things that I'd like to suggest.
Number one, reveal your depression. Based on the story of Job, I want to suggest that you reveal honestly your depression to the people that you trust. The thing about Job was this, he didn't hide his feelings. Listen to these words from Job 7:11, "Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul". Job said, "I'm not gonna keep this to myself. Here's what's going on in my life". Find somebody you trust and let it all out. Be honest about what you're feeling. You say, "Well, I'm", Get over it. Find somebody you trust and tell them what's going on in your life. Even in the doing of that, you will feel better.
Number two, resist your depression. Depression is something to be feared, something to fight. Please listen to me today. Depression is not anything to mess with. Don't let its foot in the door. Don't let anything happen that would cause it to get worse if there's something you can do to cause it to get better. Fight it. Don't coddle it, treat it as an enemy.
Number three, research your depression. I read this from a doctor by the name of Dan Phillips he said, "You should probably see a good doctor. I mean, I don't mean for happy pills. I do not mean for psychological treatment. I mean to eliminate the possibility of physical causes". And we've talked about that already. There might be something going on in your life that you don't know about. Before you do anything else, if you suffer from this, go see a doctor and get a physical. Tell him what's going on in your life and say, "I just want to make sure there's not anything systemic going on that's causing this to happen".
Number four, replace your depression. Lean into God, don't lean away from him. Let me tell you something that I've discovered. When you go through any kind of trouble in life, listen up, you have to do things that are counterintuitive. By that I mean, if you only do what you feel like doing when you don't feel good, you will always do the wrong thing. What does that mean? Well, when I am down, I don't feel like reading the Bible. Do it anyway. Say to yourself, "Self, I don't feel like reading the Bible, but I'm gonna read it anyway. And if you read it quietly in a little corner of your house, go out in the garage and read it out loud. Take action that will bring you toward God, not push him away. Here's the deal, when depression comes, like any problem in life, here is God and here are you.
If you let depression get in between you and God, it will push you away. But if you put the depression out here, it will push you toward God and then you will have a much better chance to survive it. It all depends on where it is. Job cried out to God, but he never cursed God. The Bible says that when he got all done with his depression, he did not sin, the Bible says that. In his crying out to God for answers and for help, he sinned not. So, make sure that what's going on in your life drives you toward your God and not away from him. I need to tell you, most of the people that I know who've gone through tough times, whether it's cancer, or some other kind of sickness or family trouble, when they get that principle right, they come out of it much stronger in their faith than when they went into it.
And then let's talk a little bit about the effect that depression had on Job. Even before his testing was over, Job expressed this thought, and this is a great verse for you to remember Job 23:10. Here's what it says, "But God knows the way that I take; And when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold". And after it was over, he expressed gratitude for what had happened in his life. In Job 42 he said, "God, before this thing, I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes". Job lived in triumph in his faith. In Job 13 he says, "Though he slay me, yet I will trust him". That's what I mean. That's counterintuitive when you're going through trouble, but that's what you say in your heart, that's what you mean in your spirit. "Lord, I don't know what's going on. I don't have any explanation for this. But Lord, if you slay me, I'm still gonna trust you".
That's what Job said. There's life after depression. There's victory after the test. And yes, there's joy after the despair. The first time you go through a downtime in your life, wow, it's, "How in the world am I ever gonna deal with, this is awful". And then somehow God helps you through it and you get through the first one. And the next time it comes you realize, "You know, this is really hard, and this is emotional, but I've been through this once before, and I know that God was with me. And you know what else? I know how it turns out". You've heard me laugh at Donna because she reads the last chapter of her books before she finishes reading the book, but I'm beginning to realize she's more right about that than I am.
When you read the last chapter, you don't get traumatized by the events that happen leading up to it because while it looks like it's gonna end here, you know it's not. It's not gonna end here. And when it ends, it's a good ending. Let me just ask you something today, class. Don't you know that this life is not our final place? And that we're going through some things right now, one of these days, we're gonna get to the ending, but we already know what it is. So, when we already know what it is, let's give ourselves a little space. Let's step back and say, "Lord, I forgot about this stuff we have to go through down here, but I'm so encouraged 'cause I know we're gonna make it through to the end and we're gonna do so with our hands lifted up high. And the little down dark night of a soul that I have is just a part of the ultimate movie and the movie ends well".