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Vol. XIX No. 35
29 May 2022

OVERCOMING DEPRESSION

Rev Nguyen Gia Hien
Pastor, Brisbane BPC, Australia

According to WHO, “Depression is a common mental disorder affecting more than 264 million people worldwide. Depression is a leading cause of disability around the world and contributes greatly to the global burden of disease. The effects of depression can be long-lasting or recurrent and can dramatically affect a person’s ability to function and live a rewarding life.” One of the reasons leading to suicide is depression.

The prophet Jeremiah suffered from mental and emotional anguish. Jeremiah cursed the day he was born (Jer 20:14). Here, we see that Jeremiah suffered contempt, envy, hatred, rejection, derision, opposition and persecutions from his ungodly and unrepentant people of Judah for a long time, so he was distressed and depressed. He cursed his birthday and wished he could die from the mother’s womb. However, God’s true servants and children who are born again with His eternal seed of life (1 John 3:9) despite the depression will never commit suicide because it is a sin before God.

Never Commit Suicide

Committing suicide is a sin. Those who commit suicide prove that

1. They have broken the 6th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exod 20:13) because committing suicide is committing murder, destroying the life God has given to them. Many are killing themselves slowly unawares by their addiction to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy and ungodly lifestyles, and so forth. Others think that they can be suicide bombers according to their belief, but the living and true God never approves such a suicide.

2. They do not have a true and living faith in God, who is sovereign over their lives and is able to make all things work together for good to them if they love God and keep His Word (Rom 8:28, John 14:23). God’s Word says that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23), and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Job truly had faith and trusted in God in his great trial, saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). Do we still trust in God and His sovereignty no matter what may happen to us?

3. They do not have hope in God and His Word in their hopelessness and helplessness, and that is because they are not born again and neither have the Holy Spirit nor God’s Word in them. When we are born again to be God’s children, the Holy Spirit fills us with His hope and love (Rom 5:2–5). We see that Abraham “against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken... He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom 4:18, 20). When we live by God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures (Matt 4:4), “we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4). Unbelievers in this world neither have God, the Lord Jesus Christ nor hope (Eph 2:12). Is the Lord and His Word our Hope in all things?

4. They do not please, honour, nor glorify God, who is almighty to help, deliver, and save them, and their failure to honour and glorify God is sin (Rom 1:21; 1 Cor 10:31).

5. They do not truly know God and His righteous judgment nor fear Him, who will judge the living and the dead according to what they have done (Eccl 12:13–14). Death is not the end of human life because after death is God’s judgment (Heb 9:27). Unbelievers think that after their suicide they can have some relief from pain, shame, sorrows or the Court’s judgment in this world, but they can never escape God’s righteous judgment (Rom 2:3).

6. They are cowards, who want to run away from their shame, troubles, trials, failures, pains, responsibilities, consequences of their sins, etc. Those cowards (the fearful) who do not believe nor dare to follow the Lord and suffer for Him will be in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).

Look to God

Due to the weakness of the flesh, a true child or servant of God may wish to die in depression or in great trials like Job (Job 3:11), Elijah (1 Kgs 19:4), Jonah (Jon 4:3), and Jeremiah (Jer 20:14–17), but they did not commit suicide. Satan and demons want to destroy human life, “And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him” (Mark 9:22a). Judah Iscariot was not saved nor born again to be a child of God, but he was a child of Satan. He did not have faith nor hope in the Lord, so he could not repent, but regretted and hanged himself (Matt 27:3–5). Then, what proper attitudes should we have to overcome depression?

1. Trust in the Lord and His sovereignty, who can make all things work together for good to us. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Our good and almighty God is always sovereign over all things, even over the falling of a sparrow, and the Lord Jesus says that we “are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt 10:29, 31)! Do we really know and trust that God is able to make all things including illness, pains, sorrows, troubles, trials, failures, opposition, persecutions, or death work together for our good? If we do, we shall give thanks to God even when we do not fully understand why such a trouble has happened to our life, family and ministry: to try us, chastise us, refine us, and keep us humble and reliant on Him. We should remember to do our responsibility to love God and keep His Word to enjoy His sovereignty and providence (John 14:23).

2. Look unto the Lord, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:2–3 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” We walk by faith in the Lord and His Word and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). When we turn our eyes away from the Lord and look at ourselves, illness, troubles, difficulties or others, even church leaders, we shall sink in panic like Peter, who looked at the winds and storms and sunk while he was walking on the sea to the Lord (Matt 14:30–31). When we turn our ears away from God’s Word, even our good Shepherd’s voice, and listen to doubtful or discouraging words from the flesh, human beings or Satan, we shall be shaken because our faith is based on God’s Word, and not on human words, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17).

3. Set the Lord and His Word as our Hope in depression, helplessness and hopelessness. Psalm 71:5 says, “For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth”; Psalm 119:81, ”My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word”; Psalm 146:5, ”Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God”; Jeremiah 17:7, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.”

If we only hope in ourselves, our ability, our strength, our resources, our loved ones and our friends, we shall be disappointed when encountering great troubles and difficulties, for we as humans are weak. However, we may feel helpless in our hopeless situations, but we shall not be disappointed if our Hope is the Lord and His Word. The Lord has His blessings for those whose hope is in Him. God will not let them be disappointed. The Lord does not change, and His love, mercy, goodness, wisdom, and power are still the same, always almighty to help, save and deliver. Then, who or what is really our Hope? What or who do we always turn to first in our troubles, depression and difficulties? Is it the Lord and His Word?

4. Confess our sins and shortcomings to keep a clear conscience from Satan’s accusations. God is holy and righteous, and sins hinder God’s blessings upon us, “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you” (Jer 5:25). We all have our sins and shortcomings, “For in many things we offend all” (Jas 3:2), and Satan does not leave us alone, always troubling our souls with his accusations day and night. But we thank God that we can overcome him through the blood of the Lord Jesus with our confession of sins and shortcomings, “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev 12:10–11). 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

5. Pray to the Lord and commit everything to Him. The Lord Jesus gives us the perfect example of His prayer life, even to His last breath on the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). We must thank God for making a way for us to come to His throne of grace in the holiest to present our prayer to Him and commit everything to Him in prayer to enjoy His peace, mercy and grace in time of need (Phil 4:6–7; Heb 4:16). Do we turn to the Lord in prayer in our troubles and depression? “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Ps 42:11).

6. Put on the whole armour of God to fight against Satan to have the victory in Christ. We should remember that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (human beings) but against Satan, who wants to destroy us through his temptations, accusations, and attacks, including depression. We need the full armour of God (the shoes of the Gospel of peace, the belt of God’s truth, the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness, the helmet of God’s salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Holy Spirit (the Word of God), and prayer to have the victory (Eph 6:10–18; Rom 8:37).

7. Rejoice in the Lord always and keep a merry heart as a good medicine/antidote for depression (Prov 17:22; Phil 4:4). Due to human weaknesses, no one can escape depression. However, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7), we can overcome depression because the Lord and His Word is our Hope in all situations, even in our hopelessness and helplessness. May God graciously help us always hope and trust in Him, in His Word, in His sovereignty and providence, with our love and humble obedience. Amen.

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