Recovering a Joyful Attitude
Recent newspaper accounts have reported that the incident of clinical depression worldwide continues to increase. According to the World Health Organization, presently 1 in every 4 persons will have certain mental or behavioral problems manifest at some point during their lives. Therefore the total number of depressed persons in the world is estimated to be 1.2 billion. Following this trend, by 2020 clinical depression will rank number 2 in the world¡¦s ailments, just after heart disease. Although depression is not a fatal illness in the short-term, it is nonetheless as common as influenza. Regardless of whether you¡¦re a Christian, if you do not attend to it with the proper disposition, it will lead to injury of the body and soul, affecting all normal living functions.
From the Bible, we see how not a few of God¡¦s servants had experienced depression or low morale to varying degrees. Moses bore the heavy burden of leading millions of Israelites out of Egypt into Canaan, sustaining tremendous physical and emotional pressure, so that he said to God, ¡§Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?¡¨ He even begged for death from God, so that he would not have to face his own ruin. (Numbers 11:11, 15) Elijah¡¦s spirits sank because of loneliness, set backs and fear in his service, so he begged for death from God in dejection and disappointment. (1 Kings 19:4) When Jeremiah saw his compatriots continue to sin despite repeated admonition, and clearly knowing that the punishment of God was imminent, he frequently wept in sorrow and was dismayed. That¡¦s why he is called the ¡§Weeping Prophet¡¨. As well, Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk and even our Lord Jesus Christ encountered many turns of sorrow and suffering. We see then that even people of God can have emotional depression and spiritual weariness brought on by unavoidable strain from circumstances.
Emotional disease is a complicated condition, largely composed of 3 elements: 1) Nature ¡V including personal physiological makeup, chemical and genetic factors. 2) Nurture ¡V including environment, circumstance and education. 3) Personal choice. We may not be able to control or avoid physiological or genetic factors, but we do possess a certain level of self-determination with regards to consequential circumstances, education and personal choice that we can manipulate or guard against, especially when personally choosing to accept the comfort of God.
When faced with the heavy loads and anxieties of the spirit, the biblical teaching is that whatever situation we may be confronted with, the love of God will never change. ¡§Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.¡¨ (Isaiah 54:10) Remember that we are the children of our Heavenly Father, and the love of God our Father will never be separated from us. Paul encourages us, ¡§Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship ¡K?¡¨ (Romans 8:35) And our Lord is a God who gladly bears our worries and burdens. ¡§Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.¡¨ (Isaiah 53:4) As long as we pour out our hearts to Him in our petitions and prayers, God will surely bless and preserve. Just as when He heard Hagar¡¦s suffering, saw Leah¡¦s suffering, and granted Hannah¡¦s prayer, God took pity upon them. But as for us, we must have the determination to cast all our worries and burdens on God. ¡§Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.¡¨ (1 Peter 5:7) This is a personal choice.
On the other hand, God is also concerned for man¡¦s physical needs. When Elijah thought that he had failed in his work, fled in fear and begged to die in dejection, God twice sent angels to bring him food and provided him with sufficient rest. So if the body has adequate rest and replenishment of food and drink, that helps us to overcome the low points in our mental state. Don¡¦t forget that the body affects the spirit as well. Of course, sometimes God also cures our emotional wounds through doctors and medication.
¡§A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.¡¨ (Proverbs 17:22)
By: Daniel To