yes, it will go away, sometime

July 17, 2015

200514520-004

To Pastor Gary; thanks for writing, your first month of being a pastor, wow, it’s hard to remember that far back, I hope this helps with your parishioner and please call me if you have any problems or need help. God bless.

Our fourth most asked question, how I deal with depression.

Depression is possibly responsible for more pain and distress than any other affliction of mankind. It is difficult to define, describe its symptoms, and treat. The dictionary defines it as an emotional condition, either neurotic or psychotic, characterized by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, gloominess, dejection, sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and inactivity.

Depressed persons have a negative self-image which is often accompanied by feelings of guilt, shame, and self-criticism. Some neurotic depression is linked to wrong conduct or behavior and wrong reactions to such conduct. After a series of improper acts and subsequent faulty reactions, guilt and depression set in. If sin is at the heart of the problem, it should never be minimized. Neither should support be given to the idea that other things and other people are responsible for behavioral problems. Either agreeing with him in this or not taking seriously his expression of sin and guilt could rob him of any real and lasting solutions. Both the Christian and the non-Christian may be victims of depression. Either is often concerned only with feeling better. But this is not first in order of priority. Rather, he must seek the causes which may have contributed to his depression. Putting his life in order spiritually will eventually make him feel better.

It is at this point where the Scriptures can be used. The release of the Holy Spirit’s power must inevitably result in positive steps on a road to recovery and wholeness. The Christian witness must seek to be an encourager. Even if no spiritual decision is reached, try to leave your inquirer with a sense of hope and well-being. Be patient. Complex problems for which there are no quick and easy solutions. Do not attempt to offer solutions before you are informed of the problem.

  1. A Christian also may suffer from depression in reaction to adverse situations, defeats, and set-backs; such as a death in the family, a rebellious son or daughter, or loss of employment.

  2. In such cases you should always offer a loving word of encouragement, such as:

“You are not alone in your suffering.”

“God cares and will not leave you alone.”

“The Lord Jesus not only bore our sins, but also our sorrows and heartaches.”

  1. Suggest that his present problem might be due to his inability to trust God fully in all circumstance of life. He may need to rededicate his life to Christ as he seeks to be responsive and obedient to God’s will (See Romans 12:1,2).

  2. Suggest a recommitment to the disciplines of Bible study and prayer (see Proverbs 3:5,6 and Isaiah 26:3).

  3. Suggest that he be faithful in worship and service through the church.

  4. A Christian may also be depressed because of spiritual disobedience and unresolved sin in such areas as anger and bitterness, jealousy, grudges, a divorce, immorality, etc.

  5. As the problem is revealed, encourage the inquirer by telling him that he is right to seek a solution. Reassure him that the first step back to wholeness is spiritual renewal.

  6. Share “Restoration”, page 11, emphasizing Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:9.

  7. As he responds to the Scriptures in Restoration, point out that other steps may be necessary beyond his act of recommitment. For example, he may have to mend fences broken down as a result of gossip criticism, envy, immorality, etc. He should consider restitution in a case of theft or fraud.

  8. Suggest that he make serious commitment to Bible study. Learning to think God’s thought is a valuable aid to spiritual recovery (See Philippians 4:8, NIV and Romans 12:2, NIV).

  9. Suggest that he become involved in a Bible-teaching church where worship, fellowship, and service are available.

  1. Suggest that he consider a serious commitment to professional counseling with a qualified pastor or Christian psychologist until all issues involved in the depression are resolved in the light of Scripture.

  2. A Christian may also be depressed because of setting standards and goals for himself which are beyond his ability to attain. This may be true both for economic or spiritual goals; failure brings on depression.

  1. Patiently point out that goals which others may set for themselves and seem to attain may not be right for the inquirer. The fact that he has arrived at his present emotional state may indicate that he has not been on track in setting such goals.

  2. Point out that success or failure cannot be measured by any human standard but by following:

Is what I desire in conformity with God’s will and can it be support by Scripture?

Is what I desire for the glory of God or to satisfy some personal whim or selfish ambition? Have I been motivated by spiritual pride?

Is what I desire in line with the guidance given by the Apostle Paul:

(1)       Be what I am – what God has made me; learn to live with my strengths and limitations. “But by the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10, KJV).

(2)       Attempting to emulate someone else (keeping up with the Joneses) is spiritually undesirable and counterproductive (see 2 Corinthians 10:12, NIV).

  1. Suggest that the inquirer renew his spiritual commitment. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).

  2. Suggest that he learn the disciplines of Bible study and prayer.

  3. Suggest that he rearrange his priorities so that they are more in line with his abilities and that he take one day at a time in doing so.

  4. Suggest that he make a serious commitment to professional counseling, if follow up is needed. A qualified pastor or Christian psychologist should be sought.

Scripture

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

            Isaiah 53:4,5 NIV

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

            2 Corinthians 4:8,9 NIV

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

            Galatians 2:20, NIV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

            Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV

“A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”

            Proverbs 18:14, NIV

  1. Cain’s depression was due to guilt.

Gen. 4:6-7. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

  1. David was very depressed until he confessed his sin of adultery.

Ps 32:3-4. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

  1. The way out of depression caused by guilt is confession and seeking God’s forgiveness.

Ps. 32:1-2, 5: 51:1-19.

  1. Put your hope in God when you are downcast.

Ps. 42.

Ps. 42:5-6. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

  1. Words of comfort were given to the faithful of Israel as they became depressed while in Babylon. They were called to put their faith into action in their dark hour.

Isa. 40.

  1. We may experience some tough situations, but we can avoid deep depression.

2 Cor. 4:8-9. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Cor. 4:16-18. We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an internal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  1. Think of what Paul went through, without getting depressed, sustained by God’s grace.

2 Cor. 11:23-28. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

The depressed person needs to be assured that God cares. This is the best a counselor can do, since it is probably beyond our power to remedy the person’s physical or financial problems, though we can refer the person to others who are knowledgeable in these areas. Depression caused by agonizing over sins can be dealt with by confession and repentance. (See the sections in this handbook on REPENTANCE and on the various moral problem over which a person my experience guilt.) Whatever the cause of the depression, refer the person to biblical confessions of faith in God’s ability to overcome human difficulties. These include Philippians 4:13, Philemon 4:19, 2 Timothy 1:7, Romans 12:3, Romans 8:37, Luke 10:19 and 1 Peter 2:24.

If possible, arrange for a referral to a competent pastor or Christian counselor. Encourage the person to pray, study the Bible, and fellowship with other Christians in a Christ-centered church that clearly teaches the Bible.

Never minimize the pain and suffering either mental or physical that a depressed person feels, never convey the idea that they just need a ‘swift kick in the arse’ or just pull yourself out of this. Or start the conversation with “I was depressed once”.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

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