VIEWS: 16 PAGES: 8 POSTED ON: 10/31/2012
To download this sermon for future reference: Choose "Save As" from the file menu on your browser and save it as a text document. or You may also copy or highlight the sermon text and choose "Copy" on your edit menu. Open any text application and choose "Paste" on your edit menu. Select "Save" on your file menu to save the sermon to your hard drive. DEPRESSED? YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY. A variety of emotions flirt with our feelings. Hiding deep down in the emotions of many, like a jack-in-the-box in a neatly wrapped gift package, waiting to spring out and surprise us is the emotion of depression. Depression is the "common cold" of our emotions. There seems to be no way to prevent it and no instant cure. One of the saddest things about depression is that those depressed tend to think they are the only ones suffering from this inward enemy. Quite the contrary is true. A study by the National Institute of Health reveals that depression is a billion dollar a year business. More than 8 million Americans go to a doctor each year to be treated for depression. Over 150,000 of these are hospitalized. "Newsweek" reports that it is now in an epidemic stage. You are not alone. So many people suffer from depression at Christmas one form has been named "Christmas neurosis." If you are depressed, you are in good company. Can you conceive of MOSES as depressed. In its most acute stages depression tends toward suicide. Even after being used of the Lord as an agent to perform miracles Moses became so depressed it is recorded in Numbers 11: 14, 15 that he cried out to God "I am not able to bear these people alone...kill me..." Can you depict ELIJAH as depressed. This was a man of God so strong in the faith that by God's grace he called fire down from heaven. This man who defied the godless King Ahab and his vile wife, Queen Jezebel, and defeated the prophets of Baal suffered such depth of depression that he pleaded with God, "O Lord ... take away my life" (I Kings 19:4). JONAH even after experiencing a miraculous deliverance from sure death was ensnared by this trap and prayed, "O Lord, take I beseech thee, my life..." (Jonah 4:3). ISAIAH referred to his state of depression as "the spirit of heaviness" Isaiah 61:3). PAUL a man whose intellect caused the wise of Rome and Greece to marvel, a man whose voice even demons obeyed, a man who said, "I can do all things through Christ" acknowledged there was a day that he "despaired even of life" (II Cor. 1;8). If you ever suffer depression, remember fellow sufferers such as Abraham, Jeremiah, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Peter. If you feel depressed, you are in rank with such self-acknowledged sufferers as Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill, the prince of pulpiteers Charles H. Spurgeon, Martin Luther, pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor, song writer Amy Carmichael, and author C. S. Lewis. Many well known Christians have wrestled with depression. It is no respecter of persons. Dr. Earl Johnson described this "spirit of heaviness" as follows: "It is the black night of the soul ... when God seems far away, when He really seems dead, when we feel isolated from friends and loved ones, become irritated at the smallest things and are thoroughly disgusted with ourselves ... We have feelings of hopelessness and dread as if life had run out." An elemental classification of causes of depression can be grouped as following: ENDOGENOUS DEPRESSION is cause by something within. It is associated with a chemical imbalance of the central nervous system. This "down" feeling can be caused by a disturbance in the body's chemical system. Clinically this might result when the hypothalamus doesn't secrete enough norepinephrine (NE). This slows the emotional circuit and a depressed feeling results. No matter what happens unless there is a return of normal neurohormonal energy in the hypothalamus depression continues. Symptoms are anxiety, confusion, inability to concentrate, memory loss, and a constant sad feeling. Other physical symptoms are pressure in the head or chest, neck or stomach pains, constipation or diarrhea, and dryness of mouth. Moods include sadness, loss of self-esteem, an attitude of worthlessness, inferiority, guilt, and a feeling that everyone despises you. TOXIC DEPRESSION is closely associated. It is caused by outside substances such as viral illness, drugs, or faulty diet. It can be either the cause or the effect of a disease. Mood swings vary form lethargy to hyperactivity and energy levels vary dramatically. Consider your eating habits. What you do or don't eat is important. Blood sugar level and moods are closely related. PSYCHOTIC DEPRESSION is caused by over-exhaustion, brain disease, mental disorder, or a nervous breakdown. Behavior and self-esteem are unpredictable. REACTIVE DEPRESSION is so called because it is often associated with the loss of a loved one, a death, or a severe personal setback. Sadness and anxiety without any physical symptoms characterize this form. Reactive depression results form nostalgia, loved ones absent, separation from family, and a sense of self-devaluation. This last one affects men most often. In our materialistic society we tend to measure our worth by our bankroll. Gifts can cause this type. We say "it is more blessed to give than to receive," but we also talk about "exchanging gifts." Even children who get things they know they don't deserve end up feeling guilty about things for which they begged. Don't worry about giving things. Give yourself. It is critical to note these various causes of depression because many Christians feel that because they are a Christian they shouldn't get depressed. They try harder to get over it without success and that further depresses them. SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION does sometimes result from one of three things. One is being out of fellowship with the Lord. As it ispractical to have a physical check-up to insure nothing physical is causing depression so it is wise to have a spiritual check-up to be sure it does not have a spiritual root. As a Christian it could be caused by being out of fellowship with the Lord as a result of an act of spiritual disobedience. I John 1:9 is the cure for depression caused by disobedience. A second spiritual cause might well be demonic activity. A Christian can't be demon possessed. Believers are possessed by Christ; they are His possession. However, anyone can be demon oppressed. Dr. Derek Prince, author and Cambridge University professor of logic, realized his deep depression and his inability to overcome it was caused by early childhood exposure to Hindu cults and Indian religions. He wrote: "I have learned from experience that people who become involved in the occult, normally develop two major problems: confusion and depression." Prince says satan operates by building "strongholds" in the mind. Having mentioned demon oppression I hasten to refer to demon obsession. That is, one becomes obsessed with thoughts of demons. If you have this tendency let the initial moment of such a thought cause you to turn your attention immediately to Christ. Flood your mind with Scripture. Remind yourself of the basic truth of I John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." Parents who allow their children to play with demon or occult related toys and games or view occult related films can well expect to have to deal with depressed teens and young adults. If you have ever dealt with depression you will lovingly do anything you can to prevent your child from becoming inclined to depression. Train your child don't let your child train you by putting pressure on you by begging for the very poison that might well destroy him or her later. I am convinced that the rise in teen suicide can often be traced to this root. We can learn much from David's depression as noted in Psalm 142. I. PSYCHOLOGICAL (Psalm 142:4) "Refuge has failed me, no man cares for my soul." "Soul" in the Old Testament is a term signifying the seat of the emotions. David was emotionally drained. He felt alone. There is no greater poverty than that caused by the lack of friendship, companionship, warmth, caring concern, and outgoing love. Some special events give some persons a false hope of an emotional quick fix for all the neglect given others during the year. As a special event draws near and passes persons often realize their expectations have been too high and depression results. Don't wait for someone to care for your "soul." In love reach out to others. Don't wait for a special season such as Christmas to do it. Let it become your life style. II. PHYSICAL (Psalm 142: 6 "I am brought very low, deliver me from my persecutors..." We tend to crowd extra activities into our schedules andphysically deplete ourselves. Some over eat rich foods and this affects their blood sugar which triggers a form of depression. Some consume alcohol, a natural depressant, only to increase their problem. A sense of obligation drives us to events we have no interest in and deprives us of the opportunities we desire to enjoy. This builds anxiety and animosity. We know these are wrong feelings and we get depressed over having them. Most persons have some acquaintances that irritate them. We tend to want to warm up to these frost-factored personalities and find it difficult to do seasonally. One psychologist hearing a new patient's introductory comments about a big pain in his young life made the following suggestion. "Picture your pain as a bright light. Imagine it dimming. When it goes out, your pain will be gone." The response: "I did; but when I opened my eyes, my little brother was still there." Paul's thorn in the flesh wasn't removed, but he learned from it "My grace is sufficient for you..." We need to learn from the misquotation of the model prayer of our Lord offered by a little child who had not learned it properly: "Forgive us our Christmasses as we forgive those who have Christmassed against us." III. SPIRITUAL (Psalms 142:3 "... my spirit was overwhelmed within me..." Two further aspects of spiritual depression need to be noted. Both can be very good. The 19th century Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon explained some of his depression in this way: "...this depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry." As unlikely as it seems some depression may be allowed to draw us closer to our Lord in order to condition us for special blessings to follow. Depression can be used to help realize God's plan. It was Saul's depression that brought David into the king's palace. Spurgeon further commented that "...he saw depression, not as something to be eradicated, but as something to be understood, used for God's glory and then alleviated...but before alleviation there is a positive understanding to be gained." To believe in the blessing of depression is to believe "all things work together for good, to those who love the Lord..." A second good benefit from depression related to that suffered by unbelievers. If unbelievers were ever to really stopped to consider what awaits them in eternity they ought to get and live depressed. Or, better yet let it be the motivation bringing them to a saving relationship with Christ. W H A T C A N B E D O N E ? Various secular remedies have been suggested. In The Anatomy of Melancholy, the 17th century scholar, Robert Burton, recommended a bath in milk, and "after bath, the body to be anointed with oil of bitter almonds, or violets, of new or fresh butter." If that solution sounds ludicrous you should hear some offered by modern psychologists. Try these steps to help: A. Mind power. With all due respect for the power of the mind I am convinced we don't have the capacity to avoid certain types of depression without the help of God. Christ said, "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Take heart, however, with Paul in the truth he penned in Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Get yourself off your mind and you mind off yourself. Focus your thoughts on Christ and Bible truths. B. Positive experiences need to be brought back into your life. Even if you don't feel like it brings physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual activities back into your life. Hear again the advise of Luther who said he had learned to "...ignore his heavy heart, solitude...music...joking, and feminine company were especially helpful." Matthew Chappell wisely wrote: "Happiness is purely internal. It is produced not by objects, but ideals, thoughts, and attitudes which can be developed by individuals irrespective of the environment." Don't wait for the external events and gifts of Christmas to make you happy. Let Christ work within to enable it. C. Anticipate how God can use your depression. Allow the Lord to take control of your thoughts. Experientially you can come to know the truth Moses spoke when he told Israel how theLord would deal with the curse Balaam had put on them: "The Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing for you" (Deut. 23:5). Employ the principles stated by David who spoke of the past, present, and future. PAST: Vs. 3, "Then You knew my path..." PRESENT: Vs. 5, "You are my refuge, my portion..." FUTURE: Vs. 7, "You shall deal bountifully with me." We can have past, present, and future victories because of "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). Ours is the God "which is, which was, and is to come" (Rev. 1:4). If you have never responded to Christ personally as your Savior your first step to recovery is to repentantly ask Him to forgive and give you new life. Then and only then you have spiritual resources to deal with depression and all of life. 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