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INTRODUCTION:

 

Every generation of Christians has been raised with a number of unhelpful myths. For example, "Christians should always be happy! To "rejoice always" means that it's a sin to be despairing and discouraged!" Fortunately, the Scriptures are kinder and more realistic than the myth. Many people we would consider Christian "greats" have been afflicted with chronic depression. Some of our Bible "heroes" (like Elijah) fit that same profile. It is an issue we need to face honestly and Biblically.

 

[1] SOURCES OF DEPRESSION

 

A.  PHYSICAL 

 

Physical illness and weakness can create a depressive response. Likewise certain drugs & medications can have such an effect. Poor diet, lack of exercise, over-commitment, insufficient sleep can be factors in the same equation. In other words, there are a range of contributing factors to body chemistry and glandular function that can produce feelings of depression

 

B.EMOTIONAL 

 

To the surprise of some, anger can be related to depression. "Depression is often nothing more than frozen rage" i.e. unresolved, suppressed anger. Perfectionism has us setting unrealistic goals & standards that set us up for failure…and depression. Bereavement and the accompanying grief almost always have a component of depression in them.

 

C.  SPIRITUAL - the meaninglessness of a pointless life without God is always going to result in depression sooner or later.  People who have a relationship with God will soon discover that disobedience will create a sense of depression

 

Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods--gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. (Deut.28/64,65).

 

Of course, Satan seeks to exploit these seasons in our lives and does all he can to maximize our sense of condemnation and accusation.

 

[2]   CONFRONTING OUR DEPRESSION  (Psalm 42 & 43)

 

1.  VISIT THE PAST AND ITS MEMORIES  - notice how the Psalmist reflects on the "good old days". Of course, such memories can further depress us! But they can put us in touch again with God's faithfulness to us in days gone by."Remember" is a very important word in the Bible!  Such memories can begin to generate with us a desire for renewal and provide energy for action to that end.

 

 2.  FOCUS ON THE PRESENT AND ITS STRUGGLES - This section highlights the need for the very honest acknowledgement of our depressed condition.

 

V.5 "Why are you downcast (depressed)?" - the inward look that owns the reality of depression. There is no denial or pretence here.

V.9 "Why have you forgotten me?" - the upward look that owns the sense of alienation or estrangement or abandonment by God.

V.10 "Where is your God?" - the outward look where the criticism and ridicule of others only heightens the sense of failure and increases the sense of depression.

 

[3]   ANTICIPATE THE FUTURE AND ITS HOPE

 

The Psalmist chooses NOT to be locked into his feelings like a powerless prisoner. Without idolizing the past or being intimidated by the present, he chooses to anticipate the future.

 

HONESTY WITH GOD - Psalms appeal so much because of their integrity, honesty and transparency. The worship of which this writer speaks involves both spirit and truthfulness.

HOPE IN GOD - Yes, but how?  By shifting the focus from ourselves to God, by dwelling on Him, by recalling past blessings. But we can't do any of this without  the next part

HELP OF GOD - God sends His light and truth (43/3) - insight and understanding. The goal is in v.4, the renewal of fellowship.

 

SOME SUMMARY OBSERVATIONS:

 

1.  Be honest about your feelings of depression.

 

2.  Seek to identify the cause - physical, emotional, relational, spiritual

 

3.  If the depression is "normal", let it run its course

 

4.  Resist the temptation to withdraw and isolate yourself from others

 

5.  Make the decision that your feelings will not dictate your decisions and actions

 

Hope in God….for you will yet praise Him!!

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