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Depression

The obligatory disclaimers:  1) I am not a “mental healthcare expert”- if you need one, I’ll be happy to provide some recommendations; 2) “Yes,” there are some people who need mental healthcare professionals to assist them- “Try Harder” doesn’t solve every problem; and, 3) Though I have been and do get “down,” I don’t think I’ve ever been clinically “depressed”- so I don’t “know what’s like,” but I do have a mind, a fair understanding of Scripture, and have come to realize what helps me when I get “down.”  So…

God, the creative power that spoke “light” into existence on day 1 and sustained it until created an apparent source on day 4 (the Sun, cp. Gen.1:3-5,14-19), also created a garden paradise for man to live.  This Garden of Eden would provide for all of man’s physical needs, but would also supply his aesthetic desires, Gen.2:9.  Now, notice particularly and carefully Gen.2:15, “Then the Lord took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.”  Did God- the creative power that created the Universe with the power of His words really need a “gardener”?  No, but man needed an occupation- something to do, something to work toward, something to occupy him, something at which to be productive.  Think about it: People who work hard most of their lives to provide for themselves and their families decide to retire.  Those who don’t find something with which to occupy themselves often become depressed.  The reason is simple: Man needs to engaged, occupied, involved, and productive- it’s the way we were created.  God knew it and provided him, as He did with all man’s other needs, with something productive to do.

When I get “down,” it’s almost always because I’m not seeing, doing, and being engaged with what either needs to be done, or what can be done.  Consider (which in this case means “please read” and think along with me) Mark 14:3-9.  This woman:

  1. Went to be with other good people- I have no idea if she was invited or not.  The text only says that she “came” to “the home of Simon the leper” where “He” (Jesus, and surely several others) was, v.3.  She didn’t isolate herself.  She didn’t sit at home obsessing over herself; she went to where good people had gathered.
  2. Got outside herself and her own problems- whatever they might have been, to think of someone else and what might benefit them, vv.3,6.  Jesus called it a “good deed.”  She thought of others and their needs before her own.
  3. The timeliness factor-  Jesus emphasized this in v.7.  While there are some opportunities to do good that are ever-present, v.7a, others are time-sensitive, v.7b; cf. Eph.5:16; Col.4:5.  Procrastination and excuse-making prevent the utilization of opportunities that may not always be there.
  4. She did “what she could”- There are many things of which you and I are incapable.  Dwelling on what we “can’t do” often prevents us from seeing and doing what we “can/could do.”  This woman may been terrible at preparing food; she may have been lousy at organizing and keeping her home; she may not have even been a particularly good wife- if she was married at all.  But she didn’t allow any of that to prevent her from doing “what she could” do. 

Because of these things, she has an everlasting epitaph from the Lord Himself, “wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her,” v.9.  The text nowhere says she was either “down” or “depressed”- I get that.  But I’m suggesting that what she thought, felt, and did is good either as a preventative or prescription nonetheless.

Now, if you’re simply a bit “down,” or even more seriously depressed:  Don’t isolate yourself- go be with good people who will support and encourage you, cf. Gal.6:2Get outside of yourself and your problems by thinking of someone else and how you might benefit them, cf. Phil.2:3-4 and 2Cor.8:1-5Understand the critical nature of time- now is what we have, so don’t make excuses and procrastinate; if it needs to be done, do it today, cf. Heb.3:12-15; Jas.4:13-17; and, Never allow what you can’t do prevent you can doNot able to “lead” some aspect of worship?  Open the door for and greet brethren and guests as they enter.  Not able to teach a bible class?  Volunteer to help those who do with preparations or “wrangling” kids during one.  Not able to “get out and go” see and encourage others the way you once did?  Telephones- even those with cords attaching them to wall, still work.  Not good talking to people?  The Post Office still sells stamps and delivers mail. 

The overall point is this:  Inactivity/having nothing to do wasn’t good for the first man, Adam, and it isn’t good for any of his descendants!  We all need SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE TO DO.  If you can’t think of anything, call the Elders, the Deacons, the Preacher, or the Bible Class teachers and ask how you can help!