By Sybil Mack
(Jesus said) "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20, NIV)
One of Jesus’ titles is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). When Jesus came into the world, literally “God with us,” we know that we will never be separated from His love (Romans 8:38-39). In many cases there are people who do not know that God is with us. This awareness touched me in the heart this week during a meeting with my manager who I noticed was not focused on our discussion. He later shared with me that he received a call from a friend telling him that his son had committed suicide. The emotional trauma left him bereft of words with deep sorrow for his friend’s loss. Silently, Psalms 23 sang in my mind, at the thought of the loss of a child.
My unsettled mind began rapidly assessing what truths could be collected from God's Word about the deplorable condition called depression. The Bible does not use words like “depression,” but uses words which have similar meaning like discouraged, and troubled, sadden and even despair. While the Scriptures will not diagnose a symptom called depression, nor present treatment options, however, the Scriptures does speak of God's Goodness, Mercy and Grace. His Wisdom and Power can bring reassurance to anyone who is struggling with any form of hopelessness. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalms 34:18, NIV).
Every day we are faced with the media and social networks broadcasting nonstop commentary on the Coronavirus and Social Injustice demonstrations taking place in cities across America and beyond. The daily tallying of the spikes in deaths and positive results does nothing but instill fear, increase stress and anxieties levels of viewers. Wear a mask or do not wear a mask dialog is slowly causing a shadow pandemic of mental illness in our nation. People are struggling to cope with the onslaught of symptoms of depression as human coping mechanisms do not always work or seeking help is often considered taboo. Nevertheless, we must have Faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is based on trusting that God will not abandon you or put you in a situation that is too tough to handle. God provided us with His only begotten son Jesus Christ who is our comforter and will help us through any trial or tribulation. We need to keep our eyes on God, his power, and his love for us: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV).
Fear is one of Satan's most popular weapons that he uses against us. The main cause of fear is an excessive concern about one’s self-preservation, what the future holds. Know that God’s plans for you are Perfect. “…do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)
Depression is not something new, as there are people in the Bible who experienced bouts of depression specifically, Moses, David and even Solomon. God’s servant Naomi found in the Book of Ruth opens with extremely bad circumstances: hunger, poverty, death and loneliness. Naomi’s path was divine even though she did not know it. Depressed, she returned to the land of Judah (the land of God) with her daughter-in-law Ruth. Wherein, Ruth converted to the God of Israel, and the blessings she received shows us how important it is for our LORD when we accept Him in our lives. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jeremiah 29:11-12, NIV).
Like Naomi and Ruth, we need to focus our hearts and minds on God as He is our strength in times of trouble. He is a way maker. He has plans and is with us. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; (John 14:16, KJV). There may be those who are contemplating perversity, encourage them to reach out and ask for help, talk to someone! Cling to God, to your family, friends, and community! Hence, David Powlison states in his article, Grieving Suicide. “God, in the Bible, doesn’t offer you platitudes and pat answers. He gives you something much better—in response to your sorrow, your emotions, and your unanswered questions, he gives you Himself.”