Summary: Is depression a mark of a lack of faith? Is it always a sinful attitude? Consider the story of a great man of God who struggled with this terrible emotion, and the ways in which God healed him.
OPEN: Over the past few weeks we’ve been dealing with emotions that can cripple Christians. Two weeks ago, our family minister dealt with the issue of Fear. Last week we dealt with Guilt. And this week we’re going to focus on a very real emotion that has crippled thousands: Depression.
OPEN: Psychiatry students were in their college class one day when their professor began a discussion to prove a point. "What we’re going to talk about today," the professor said, "are the emotional extremes that many mentally disturbed people go through… for example
“What’s the opposite of joy?" he asked one student.
"Sadness" the student answered.
"The opposite of depression?" he asked a young lady.
"Elation," she replied.
Turning to a young man from Texas he asked "the opposite of woe?"
"Well, now," the Texan replied "I suppose the opposite of woe, would be giddy up."
According to Psychiatrists Frank Minrith & Paul Meier, the majority of Americans suffer from a serious, clinical depression at some point in their lives. Most of these people never get help... they just fight this battle on their own.
ILLUS: Years ago I was reading out Reader’s Digest and ran across an advertisement for Paxil, an anti-depressant (Reader’s.Digest, 2/03).
The ad began with these words…
Loss of Interest
Then it concluded with these words: "Life is too precious to let another day go by feeling not quite ’yourself.’ If you’ve experienced some of these symptoms nearly every day, for at least two weeks, a chemical imbalance could be to blame. And life can feel difficult ALL DAY."
To read this advertisement you would believe that most (if not all) of those suffering from depression are victims of a chemical imbalance. And indeed, the Holy Grail of psychiatrists is to find that magic pill, that powerful potion that will correct that imbalance and give people everywhere relief from the dark moments of sadness and hopelessness.
Depression is very real part of life for many people.
ILLUS: A few years ago, the South East Christian Church offered a time during their Wednesday Evening Service (attendance of at least 600) for people to come forward and have the Elders lay hands on them and pray for healing. The speaker pointed out that there was "a lot of hurt in this room" - sickness, broken relationships, grief. He said that at the invitation, the elders would be available for prayers of healing.
The response began as a trickle. Soon, others began making their way down from the balcony; walking along individually or in pairs, or rolling forward in wheelchairs. Before long, the trickle became a torrent.
Elder Bob Carpenter said he was not prepared for the response to the invitation. "I was totally surprised by the magnitude of it."
Elder Bill Beauchamp did not expect the vast response either… nor did he anticipate the type of prayer needs revealed. "At least 2 out of 3 asked for prayer for depression," he said.