It’s not all about you.
If people could learn that, I think they’d be a lot happier. You can’t go anywhere today without hearing about depression or people being victimized. I’ve found myself wondering if depression was this prevalent years ago. Maybe it was, but just didn’t get talked about as much. But I usually get the impression that people just rolled along – took things in stride.
I don’t doubt that depression is a valid illness or affliction that sometimes needs counseling or medication to overcome. But I really think that our society has almost turned it into some kind of badge of honor. People have fallen in love with playing the victim and turning problems that might be a small hill into Mt Everest. The problem is, that Mt Everest is much harder to climb. Therefore, getting over problems and overcoming obstacles almost becomes impossible.
I think that’s why truly religious people can often see past the things that so often weigh us down in this life. When we focus on larger things, eternal things, it’s hard to place as much emphasis on the petty. One of the best passages that deals with this is in Matthew 6:
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matt 6:25-34
I know that’s a little lengthy, but it’s such a good passage.
And when we get down and start feeling pity for ourselves, we need to remember the examples God’s given us in the Bible. When David sinned with Bathsheba, he was told that one of the consequences would be the death of the child that she was carrying. When the baby was born, it was very sick, and David refused to eat or do anything else, but spent his time in prayer and meditation. When the baby died, he arose, cleaned himself and ate. His servants were surprised, and questioned him about it. His reply is as follows:
22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD[a] will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” – 2 Sam 12:22-23
Did David not love the child? Shouldn’t he have been more upset when it died? I think it’s obvious that David loved that child very much, and he pleaded with God to spare it. But once the child was dead, nothing would bring him back. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t show grief when we experience loss, but I think it should be a lesson to us that we have to go on with our lives too. We can’t stop living just because someone else has.
Peter is another great example. Here’s a man that denied Christ on the night of his crucifixion; the same man who had publically sworn to accompany Jesus to his death. When he realized what he had done, he was horribly upset. Yet, Peter still went on as one of the pillars of the early church, he preached to the first Gentile convert, and he even became a martyr. This is someone who did not let his sorrow overcome him (basically the opposite of Judas).
But today, people often become severely depressed over things that aren’t even as traumatic as death: financial problems, weight gain, relationship difficulties, etc. We have not been promised a perfect life. Our purpose in living this life is not happiness, it’s serving God. And while God does want us to be happy, it’s not the priority. We are going to experience hardships. We are going to experience pain, loss, and disappointment. If God had set things up for us to have perfect lives here on this earth, then there would have been no point in heaven.
Remember these passages:
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content – Phil 4:11
2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Col 3:2-3
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all. – Ecclesiastes 12:13
When we feel depressed and feel pity for ourselves, then Satan is winning. Those feelings father doubt, worry, inadequacy, and faithlessness. Understand that Satan will expoit every chink in your armor, and he won’t let up until he’s won.
If you have spent years and years on medication for depression, then you’re seeking the wrong fix. Again, there are people who really do need medication because of some chemical imbalance or other medical reason, but I honestly believe that most people take medication for no good reason. If you want to be cured of feelings of depression, then read your Bible everyday and pray without ceasing. It’s really that simple. You don’t need a change in prescription, but in perspective.
3 thoughts on “Getting Back Up”
This is a great post! I wholeheartedly agree with your last paragraph. Depression is often a symptom of a much larger spiritual problem. Medication seeks to alleviate the symptom, but does nothing to cure the problem (in the cases where it isn’t a genuine chemical imbalance).
Hey–gotta say, I agree with you for the most part, although I (being a devout atheist) don’t think the bible’s the only cure. The change in perspective is really important though.
There’s a very simple saying that I think jibes with religion quite well: That’s how it goes. Pretty simple, but incredibly powerful. In Christianity, I think it translates pretty much directly to “God’s will be done.” You can question it if you want to, but there’s not that much point, because it is what it is, that’s how it goes.
I think people in whom the force is not strong, through fault or no fault, tend to think they have a lot more control over things than they do. It’s hard to be well when you’re so focused on how you’re doing or on how you’re doing. But God calls us to be well, in spirit, and good actions and a good life (God willing) will flow from that. The lesson transcends religion, I think, although I think religion can get you there. I think medication can help as well, even for people who don’t need it, per se, in that it can show them what being well feels like, so they can try to do it without the medication later.
Still, material concerns are real concerns for people, and we shouldn’t use the Matthew passage to justify a lack of concern for other people’s needs. Man may not live on bread alone, but bread is pretty important. Additionally, discounting the future too much can hurt other people. Sometimes it’s good to “worry” about tomorrow, if it means building an ark.
Anyway, good post. Interesting stuff.
Thanks to both of you for your comments. Both points are excellent.
I just wanted to add that I totally agree with what you said. Especially the part about Matthew 6 (and I hope I didn’t apply it too fanatically). Our physical needs are still needs and shouldn’t be ignored or taken lightly. But at the same time, our outlook can function independantly from those things – it may be difficult, but it can happen. I know poor people who are very happy, and rich people who are not. Like you said, perspective is the real key.
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