WHAT TO DO WHEN DEPRESSED
Joshua 7:1-6 (NIV) "But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a]; Achanson of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.
There was a story of a man who approached his friend who looked lonely one day and asked: "What is wrong with you?
"Oh, I'm just tired, that's all. "tired of not being good enough, tired of trying and not getting credit, tired of getting put down
tired of people calling me names, tired of back stabbers, tired of crying, tired of insecurities, tired of being unconfident,
tired of being tired, just tired, that's all!"
If you feel that way, you may not know it but depression is slowly creeping into your system until you will be completely overcome by it.
So, what is depression and how do we overcome it
Here are some facts about depression.
According to the website Depressiontoolkit.org, Depression is a mood disorder causing a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
But it is not just feeling "down" but a serious illness caused by changes in brain chemistry.
The World Health Organization characterizes depression as one of the most disabling disorders in the world, affecting roughly one in five women and one in ten men at some point in their lifetime.
It is estimated that 21% of women and 12% of men in the U.S. will experience an episode of depression at some point in their lifetime.
Depression does not discriminate.
Men and women of every age, educational level, and social or economic background suffer from depression.
It can affect your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviors and your overall physical health.
Here are some of the most common symptoms that point to the presence of depression:
Feelings: sadness, hopelessness, guilt, moodiness, angry outbursts, loss of interest in friends, family and favorite
Thoughts such as trouble concentrating, trouble making decisions, trouble remembering and thoughts of harming oneself.
Behaviors such as withdrawing from people, substance abuse, missing work, school or other commitments.
Physical problems such as tiredness or lack of energy, unexpected aches and pains, changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, changes in sleep, too little or too much.
There are a lot of people, even famous celebrities and sport personalities who had been depressed in spite of their popularity and wealth.
Some were able to come out while others hit rock bottom.
Consider La Mar Odom, that famous former Lakers had been so depressed lately that he had an overdose of various drugs and cocaine and now fighting for his life at a Nevada Hospital.
It is unfortunate for a man who had such great talent in basketball, won two NBA titles and loved by many.
It is such a great waste of life.
Or consider Jim Carrey, the famous comedian actor of elite films such as Ace Ventura, had gone through debilitating depression due to different reasons such as ADHD, family troubles and past financial problems.
His ability to come up with jokes under pressure is impressive.
But many comedians have admitted to going through significant trauma and that comedy was the only way of escape.
Although he tried an antidepressant medication as Prozac, he found that it did not help but actually making him feel worse.
Finally, he was able to overcome depression through search for spiritual experience, staying busy, maintaining a sense of purpose and ultimately avoiding drugs and alcohol.
Probably you have your own way of battling depression, but I hope you see the picture.
Depression is a big problem that we need to address even occurring among Christians.
No one is immune to depression.
Everyone can be attacked by this illness.
And if we are not well informed and do not take the necessary preventive measures, the result can be devastating.
And so, today, we will talk about what to do when you are depressed.
You don't withdraw from the church, you don't go to the bar when depressed, you don't go to the casino.
You don't do any of these things.
But you learn to fight it head on, analyze the cause/s of the problem and make some positive changes in your
How? by learning from God's Word.
In our study in the Book of Joshua chapter 7, we find Joshua so depressed after the greatest military conquest in their history.
They have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down right before their eyes because of of the power of obedience, the power of prayer and the power of praise and worship.
They were still basking in the glow of that great event.
But verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people for their unfaithfulness.
Israel thought that everything was all right.
They thought that it was the start of unprecedented series of victory until the entire Promised Land is conquered.
But they did not know that there was a problem in the camp.
And because he did not know the real cause of the problem, this brought tremendous stress and feelings of depression upon Joshua and the leaders of Israel.
And so, today, we will first study the causes of depression and then consider the cures for depression.
Our prayer is that we will be men and women who can overcome depression when this illness is on the attack.
We must take care of ourselves especially our mind and emotion so that we could serve God better.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION:
Joshua 7:1 (NIV) "But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things."
The first thing we will notice at the start of this chapter is that Israel was "unfaithful" to the devoted things.
If you continue to read the entire verse 1, it says that "Achan, son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of
Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel."
This word "unfaithful" represents a Hebrew word that means "to act underhandedly".
It was used for marital infidelity, of a woman who was unfaithful to her husband.
That means, Israel had been unfaithful by seeking happiness and security from things rather than from God.
God told them that all these are devoted before the Lord and had to be destroyed completely.
The first spoils of war belongs to the Lord.
They must not take anything for themselves.
But the verse states that the Israelites were "unfaithful..."
They have been overcome with sin.
They have disobeyed God, they have been unfaithful, untrue and inconsistent.
Unfaithfulness can bring about emotional and spiritual depression.
When we experience the taste of victory, we drop our guard and become unfaithful in our devotion, become unfaithful in our prayer, become unfaithful in our worship.
A lot of negative thoughts would enter our minds when we are unfaithful that will cause emotional and spiritual defeat and depression.
Beware of unfaithfulness to the things of God because these can cause severe depression.
That is why there is a need for us to be faithful, to be loyal and trustworthy to God in times of great spiritual victory and defeat.
This will aid us to overcome our depression and build stability in our minds and hearts.
Faithfulness will aid us in appropriating God's Word to prepare us for the next battle.
The basis of our victory is the Lord Himself.
Proverbs 3:5 (NIV) "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;"
Hebrews 10:23 (NIV) "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
2. UNEXPECTED DEFEAT.
Joshua 7:4 "So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them.
They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the
hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water."
The next cause of Joshua's depression was the unexpected defeat of the Israelites.
In verse 3, they feel like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai.
But our verse tells us that they were routed, they were chased, and they were struck down by the men of Ai.
It was uncalled for and a big surprise to be overcome by a small army compared to Jericho.
The hearts of Israel melted in fear and their confidence disappeared.
There was a big contrast with the preceding chapter.
Joshua chapter six is about the thrill of great victory when the walls of Jericho was no match for Israel.
Joshua chapter seven is about the agony of a great defeat from a small band of people.
Unexpected situations such as these will always bring about mood and behavioral changes among individuals.
Our mood can play a significant role in how we live our lives.
When we are victorious, we are happy and we tend to concentrate on the good things and ignore the negative aspects of things that happen around us.
But when we are defeated, we are sad, we may be unable to think of anything but those negative aspects.
Brothers and sisters, the truth about life is that there will always be victory and there will always be defeat.
Many times, there are more defeats than victories.
Many times, victory is always followed by at least the threat of defeat.
And if we drop our guard and begin trusting in ourselves due to past victories we have achieved, we will be depressed when unexpected defeat happens.
So, what do we do?
Put our confidence on God not on our past victories.
God wants us to trust Him more so that our emotion will be stabilized in areas of defeats and victories of life.
When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the victory, but when we are walking with our confidence in the power of our ability and in our flesh, then we are destined to fail!
Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV) " When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future."
The above are just two of the causes of depression.
There are many more causes for depression such as chemical imbalance, life circumstances, loss of a loved one, divorce or psychological problems such as abuse or low self-esteem and others, but we have no time to discuss each cause at this time.
Let us go to the cure for depression.
CURES FOR DEPRESSION:
Joshua 7:6 (NIV) "Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads."
Joshua's reaction to their unexpected defeat was to fall facedown the entire day.
He was depressed and don't know what to do.
But it was also the time of self-searching to examine what really went wrong.
Was it was lack of military tactics?
Was it a lack of military training among his soldiers?
Or did God abandoned them?
But it is too early for them to be abandoned by God.
They have just began to conquer the land?
What could have been the reason for the defeat?
In other translation, it says; "Joshua rent his clothes" which is a testimony of great sorrow and distress.
He searched his heart carefully and humbly before God looking for some answers to his dilemma.
In the same manner, when depressed, we must search our hearts to see if there is any secret sins that we have harbored.
Because if there is sin in the camp, God would not continue blessing the nation as long as this was so.
And Joshua had to discover it himself through self-contemplation, self-observation and self-reflection of the situation.
We had to evaluate our hearts honestly and humbly.
This might take a lot of time, but we had to do so with great patience if we want to overcome the depressive spirit.
You see, the Bible tells us that we must always be filled with joy and praise.
Phil. 4:4 (NIV) "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Rom. 15:11 (NIV) "And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”
Both of these verses talks about the Christian life filled with joy and gladness.
God intends for us to live joyful lives.
It is normal to always rejoice.
And so, if you are going through depression, you have to search your heart and inquire what could have been the reason why you have no inward peace and joy.
Could it be that you are harboring unforgiveness and bitterness in your heart?
Could it be that you are hiding that sin of anger, lust, envy and greed in your heart?
Could it be that you have allowed adultery and immorality to creep in unaware in your life?
Probably, you have been so focused on yourself and not on Christ and others.
Probably you have been so focused on the problem and on the difficult situation you are in and not on Christ.
Brothers and sisters, sin can take away your inward joy.
And lack of joy as a Christian is not normal.
So, it is time to go back and fill your thoughts with God's powerful Words instead of entertaining those negative thoughts.
Memorize God's Word and repeat to yourself the truths you find from the Bible.
Self-searching is a powerful tool that can cure depression.
But it is only productive if accompanied with the help of God, prayer and His Word.
After you searched your heart and when you discover that something is wrong, do something about it.
This can help you evaluate your own state of mind, your behavior and your physical health whether your depression is a condition that must be diagnosed by a physician.
Proper medication and counseling together with much prayer can help alleviate depression.
Psalms 139:23 (NIV) "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."
2. SEEK GOD.
Joshua 7:7 (NIV) "And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”
The next thing that Joshua did to overcome his depression is that he sought God.
He prayed and pleaded with God to reveal to him the reason for the great defeat.
It was a prayer from a broken and contrite heart desiring to bring back the gory and the honor of God.
But prayer is not to put our blame on God or to dispute God's will but to discover that there was sin in the camp.
Such prayer gave clarity to Joshua how to deal with that sin.
In the same manner, whenever there is tragedy in our lives, we are not to accuse God of anything but to look within where the problem is and try to fix that.
When we discover that there is lack of power in our lives, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others but the problem lies with me!
You see, God knows exactly what is going on around us.
That sin can hinder His power to work.
That sin can bring defeat to our lives.
That sin can affect those around us.
Therefore, that sin has to be dealt with.
Here is the Truth:
The greatest problems faced by the church come from within and not from without.
Let me illustrate.
It is not the water on the outside that boat that cause cause it to sink, it is the water on the inside of the boat that cause trouble!
The same is true for the church.
The world and the devil really cannot do a lot of damage to the church when we do God's will together.
We are powerful when we are united.
But if you let someone inside the church to get out of line, with a critical spirit, with negative thoughts provoking everyone to think of the same line of thinking in order to dominate and undermine the church, there will be a big problem.
That negative spirit will spread like wildfire and people will get depressed.
That is why prayer and church unity is the sure cure for depression.
As you pray, ask God to reveal specific thoughts and actions he wants you to change.
Agree with Him when He points out sin and ask Him to help you change.
Forgive others who have wronged you.
Thank God for His love and ask for healing and a renewed joy in life, then depression will be eliminated.
Psalms 34:4 (NIV) " I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."
When David sought the Lord, he was delivered from all his fears and depressions.
Joshua 7:13 (NIV) "“Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them."
The third process of being cured from depression is to have a self-cleaning by consecrating oneself to God.
This is exactly what God told Joshua.
God knew who was guilty, but He didn't just tell Joshua who he was.
He was probably giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins.
He was also giving Joshua the opportunity to clean the camp from sin and the teach Israel a lesson.
But in the process, the finger of God was getting closer and closer and finally landed on Achan as the guilty person.
In the same manner, God already knew our sins and His finger is getting closer and closer each day.
One day, our sins will be exposed because we cannot hide our sins.
That is why He wants everyone to repent and to come to him for salvation.
That is what self-cleaning is all about.
He wants us to deal with what is appropriate towards sin.
James 4:8 (NIV) " Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
There are three things that this verse tells us about being cleansed from sins.
First, we must come near and draw near to God.
Second we must wash our hands.
Thirdly, we must purify our hearts.
We need to remember that God is loving and gracious to all of us.
And so, we need to get right with God if you want to live a joyful life and get passed depression.
If you are lost and feeling depressed this morning, there is only one thing you need.
You need to come to Jesus for salvation to restore your joy.
Receive Him, Surrender your life to Him and Serve Him fully.
And your depression will depart as the peace of Christ reigns in your heart and mind.
Let us pray...