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Dealing With Depression: Pt 1, Job’s Depression[1]
Preached: 5/11/14, Eastside Pittsburgh Church of Christ
Scripture Reading:
11 "My days are past, my plans are torn apart, Even the wishes of my heart.
12 "They make night into day, saying, 'The light is near,' in the presence of darkness.
13 "If I look for Sheol as my home, I make my bed in the darkness; 14 If I call to the pit, 'You are my father'; To the worm, 'my mother and my sister'; 15 Where now is my hope?
And who regards my hope?
Depression is a topic that is not dealt with frequently enough amongst God’s people, which leads many of us to feel like we are not equipped to talk to people that say that they are struggling with depression.
There are many reasons why this is not talked about much amongst God’s people in classes or sermons.
Some think that this topic should be left to be discussed by those with a whole bunch of letters after their names; to the doctors and psychiatrists; that this subject is a purely secular subject, which leads many who are Christians to not spend too much time figuring out how they can help their brothers and sisters struggling with depression.
Instead, we leave it to the medical community to handle.
Depression is also a subject that is an emotionally charged topic.
Many people have very strong opinions about depression, especially when discussing the causes of depression and how it should be treated.
Unfortunately, even the medical community does not agree on these things.[2]
The facts are that a good bit that comes from the field of psychology about depression and many other “mental disorders” are nothing more than theories that do not have a lot of hard science to back them up.
There is just a lot that is not known about the human brain and how it works.
Another thing that makes this a difficult subject to deal with is that people use the word to describe so many experiences and feelings that we all commonly experience in life.
The word is used to speak of many different emotions and differing levels of severity.
It is important to keep this in mind.
For example, people who are struggling with emotions of sorrow, sadness, anxiety, guilt, discouragement, loneliness, anger, resentment, and bitterness of many different severities may say that they are depressed or be diagnosed with minor depression.
At it’s greatest severity, some get to the point where these emotions completely overwhelm them and consume them to the point where they shut down physically and cannot perform the common, daily activities that they are used to doing.
Some would say that they feel like they are trapped in the darkness and that this darkness is their daily companion, to the point of saying something like, “I feel as though I died a few weeks ago and my body hasn’t found out yet.”[3]
People with all of these symptoms can be said to be in the state of depression.
With all of the confusion and lack of scientific knowledge on this subject, we can be thankful that, as Christians, we have the best “textbook” on the human condition: the Bible.
God has a lot to say about the emotions that He has given us, including the emotions that we just mentioned that can lead to depression.
He talks about how our emotions can be an area in which Satan can be given a foothold in our lives.
He talks about how our feelings can be deceptive.
He tells us how our feelings and emotions can even lead us into sin.
In scripture, we see many men and women who have felt every emotion there is who have opened their hearts to God.
I do believe that if some of these men and women in scripture went to a psychologist, they would (in my opinion) be diagnosed with depression.
Some examples would be David at some points in his life, Elijah in (one of the best examples), Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi, Jeremiah the weeping prophet, etc.
These and many others have experiences emotional highs and lows as they lived in their lives under the sun.
Many here may either known a Christian who has suffered from depression.
You may have suffered depression yourself.
We need to understand that this, and every single thing that comes at us in this life, is a spiritual/Biblical topic.
There is not a “secular” part of life.
This is something we need to remind ourselves of often.
God is concerned with every area of our lives and wants us to trust in Him in every area of our lives, even in times when we are struggling with depression.
This is a Biblical topic that God does talk about.
With these things said, for today’s lesson, I would like to examine the account we have of Job’s depression.
We will follow the following outline:
The Confirmation of Job’s Depression The Cause of Job’s Depression The Cure for Job’s Depression
Job is perhaps one of the first people we think of when we think of Biblical examples of depression, and we are given some very good reasons for why he was depressed (which we will look at shortly).
His original response to his suffering in chapters 1 and 2 is encouraging and may one to think that what is recorded in chapter three just comes out of nowhere.
At the end of chapter 2, Job spent seven days suffering in silence with his friends present.
Surely this gave him a lot of time to think about what was going on in his life and why these things were happening.
I believe this time of contemplation led to what we see in chapter 3 along with Job’s speeches throughout the book.
After this seven day period, we are given a look into how Job feels about his situation.
Chapter 3 of Job is commonly titled, “The Lament of Job.”
This is a fitting title, but I believe it could be better titled, “The Venting of Job” because here he allows his emotions out and tells us what is really on his mind.
Many have written on depression in the book of Job.
Some go into great detail to show how Job fits todays medical model given to us[4] of the symptoms of clinical depression that the American Pyschiatric Association in their Diagnostic Manual.[5]
I honestly don’t believe this is really necessary to see that Job is struggling with depression.
You can see it pretty clearly in the words that he says in chapter three alone.
Let’s look at some of the things that Job says:
He questions why he was even born in the first place.
He curses the day he was born (3:1-10).
· 3 "Let the day perish on which I was to be born, And the night which said, 'A boy is conceived.' 4 "May that day be darkness; Let not God above care for it, Nor light shine on it.
5 "Let darkness and black gloom claim it; Let a cloud settle on it; Let the blackness of the day terrify it.
· In verse 6, he wishes that the day of his birth was taken off of the calendar.
Then in verses 11-19, he asks why he had to live after he was born.
· In verse 11, he questions why he was allowed to be born.
· In 3:16, Job asks why could he not have been delivered as a still-born.
· In verse 12, he asks why his mother did not just forsake him to leave him to die.
Why did she have to nurse him and care for him?
Job’s suffering has led him to believe that there was no reason/purpose for him to be alive.
It would be better for Job, in his opinion, to have died in the past, or even now.
It is looking like to him that this would be the best thing for him; the only way he can get rest from his suffering.
Job at this point feels hopeless.
The worse thing about all of this for Job is this: he feels that God is against him.
He says in verse 23, “Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, And whom God has hedged in?” Satan said in chapter 1 that God had a hedge built up around Job to protect him.
Job feels like God has built up a wall up around him so that he can’t get out of darkness and suffering.
After Eliphaz’s first discourse, Job says that “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, Their poison my spirit drinks; The terrors of God are arrayed against me” ().
If you feel like God is against you; that you are His enemy, what hope can you feel about getting out of this, especially when you have no clue what brought it on?
In chapter 7, Job continues his thoughts of hopelessness:
"When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?'
But the night continues, And I am continually tossing until dawn.
13 "If I say, 'My bed will comfort me, My couch will ease my complaint,' 14 Then You frighten me with dreams And terrify me by visions; 15 So that my soul would choose suffocation, Death rather than my pains.
16 "I waste away; I will not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath.
(, )
He cannot even get a good-nights rest.
Job’s only hope is that he get an ear with the Almighty and have a chance to bring his case before Him.
But of course, Job has no idea if this will ever happen.
I believe we see throughout the book that Job struggled with what is referred to as the three lies of severe depression:
No hope for the future.
Job speaks as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Job.
He doesn’t speak of having great hope in this life or the next.
2. No purpose or reason to live.
This is an overview of chapter 3.
You are worthless.
Job comes to view himself as worthless and not even worth the time God is using up to punish him without cause.
Bildad even reminds Job in chapter 25 that Job, as a man, is a maggot and a worm.
When considering the cause of Job’s depression, most will say, “well, duh, Job is depressed because of the physical suffering he endures in chapters one and two.”
I do agree that these were influential in leading Job to be depressed, but these things are not the only reason Job became depressed.
The OUTWARD Circumstances.
Job suffered on every level and is traumatized by pain.
He suffered great loss.
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