Summary: This lesson examines the depression of Job and how depression can affect the people of God.
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? (Job 17:11-15)
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. 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.” 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 1 Kings 19 (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: