Summary: A tough sermon that addresses the reality of depression and how to deal with it from a Biblical perspective. Because of the subject matter there was no central scripture text, but a variety of passages that gave evidence to the fact that many Biblical cha
Well, good morning. Is anybody dealing with the winter blues? Anybody at all? Be honest. Of course you are. Because it’s January, there is snow on the ground, it’s cold out there, and the Steelers are not going to be in the Super Bowl. We all experience the winter blues, but if you’re someone who experiences this ugly thing that we call depression, the winter blues can easily roll into the springtime blues, the summer blues, and even the fall blues. In other words, if you deal with depression, the blues can be an ongoing cycle of life that is very difficult to break free of. What we are going to do today, we are actually going to break free from talking about our four core values of worship, discipleship, outreach, community, and we are going to tackle this tough topic of depression. Hopefully, by the end of the sermon, you may see that some of the solution has to do with the four core values.
Anyway, before we get started looking at some scripture about depression, let’s see if we can come up with a definition of depression. This is right out of Webster’s Dictionary. It says “Depression- A psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.” I think that is a pretty good, well-rounded definition of depression, but it doesn’t really address the causes and the duration of depression that many people experience. Some of you know that depression can be caused by a variety of reasons. There is this thing called post-partum depression, which is also known as the baby blues. You might be experiencing in grief by loss of a loved one. Maybe you experience depression because of a job loss or some sort of a lifestyle-type change. Or maybe you experience depression because of a health situation or possibly even a biological situation, a hereditary-type thing. The bottom line is you can experience depression for a variety of reasons. The duration can be as short as a day or so to up to years at a time. A lot of people struggle with this thing called depression, especially in America. I was reading some statistics about depression, and apparently, 5-10% of Americans have experienced some form of major depression, also known as clinical depression, in their lives. And that approximately 15% of Americans are currently on some form of anti-depressant drugs. That is a lot of people.
No one is immune to depression. There is no one demographic that has not been affected by depression. Obviously, you have depression in adults. You have depression in teens. You have depression in the elderly. Even now they are finding depression in children. There is no social status that is immune from depression. The rich and the poor, even celebrities. I was doing some research and I found out that a ton of celebrities and even politicians deal with depression. Names like Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey, Dolly Parton, Ashley Judd, Jim Carrey, Winston Churchill, Boris Yeltsin, even Abe Lincoln have at one time or another struggled with depression, which also kind of debunks the idea that, if you’re depressed, you can’t be productive. See I would say that a lot of depressed people are very productive. Because when that cloud finally lifts up, you are going to work, you are going to make up for lost time. So you become very productive.
Anyway, as common as this thing depression is, it still has a stigma attached to it, especially in Christian circles doesn’t it? Some would suggest that a Christian should never get depressed. We are supposed to be happy. Some would even suggest that sin would be associated with depression or, at a minimum, lack of faith. After all, there is no place in the bible that uses the word depression. But if anybody has read the bible and you look back at the story of the saints the patriarchs, you would see that they were sure exhibiting the symptoms of depression. Think about King David. Think about the Psalms. If you read through the Psalms, you can’t help but see that, man, that guy had some low times. Think about Moses. Think about someone like Jonah. We studied Jonah last week. Jonah, I think, was experiencing depression. Other prophets like Jeremiah. One of my favorite stories of a prophet who was dealing with depression is the prophet Elijah. You may know back in 1 Kings that it tells the story of Elijah. He was a man of God. He decided he was going to go up against King Ahab and his 400 prophets of Baal. It was basically a competition to see whose god was bigger. Basically, God showed himself to Elijah. Elijah won the match. Then what happened to Elijah? Immediately he got afraid because Jezebel heard about it, and she was going after him. So this joy, this sense of victory, turned to despair and fear, and he ended up running into the desert. 1 Kings talks about this. It says, “He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.” (1 Kings 19:4-5) This is the language of depression. I want to die. A little bit of insecurity in there. I am no better than my ancestors, and I want to sleep. That is a symptom of being depressed. The desire to continue to sleep in the middle of the day.