Lesson 7

Hope Against Depression

(Psalms 42, Ecclesiastes 9, Hebrews 11, Acts 14, 1 Kings 19)
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Introduction: Last week I heard an inspirational message pointing out that humans, and specifically Christians, are God's hands and feet to accomplish His will on earth. When you get sick it is God's will for you to go to a medical doctor. If our lesson was titled "Hope Against Broken Bones," I would tell you to immediately see a doctor, not study the Bible to fix your broken bone. Is depression (a broken mind), like a broken bone? Some think so. The mind is a part of the body. Fixing a broken mind, however, is infinitely more complex than fixing a broken bone. If you have a "broken mind," I think you should consult a specialist - on two conditions. First, you must only consult a committed Christian. Much in psychiatry and psychology is directly at odds with the Bible. Second, you must read Robert Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic. This is what lawyers call "informed consent." Whitaker argues that much of psychotropic medicine is like throwing a rock in a finely tuned machine. Let's explore what the Creator of our finely tuned machine has to say about depression!



  1. Downcast Soul


    1. Read Psalms 42:9-11. What two problems does this poor person face? (His bones hurt and he is depressed.)


      1. In your experience do these two things sometimes go together? (If you are in pain, it is hard to have joy.)


      2. Sometimes when someone is depressed, we say "trust God." What does this text teach us about depression and trusting in God? (The writer of these verses calls God "my Rock," yet he suffers from despair.)


        1. What does the writer of these verses suggest is the solution to despair? (In verse 11 he says "put your hope in God" and praise will come.)


          1. How does that make any sense if he already trusts God, but suffers from despair? (Because we are human, we face suffering. That does not change the fact that trusting God puts us on the path to the solution.)
    2. Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-5. How would you like to invite this fellow to a party?


      1. This is King Solomon writing. How wise was King Solomon? (Read 1 Kings 3:11-12. God said no one would ever be like Solomon.)


      2. Is what King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:5 true? (Of course not. Jesus promises us in John 6:38-40, that we will have a further reward. That reward will be eternal life.)


        1. What caused King Solomon to write what he did? (Solomon suffered from depression.)


    3. What have we learned so far? That a wise person, a person who trusts God, can suffer from depression! If wise, trusting people suffer from depression, for what can we hope? Let's turn to that next.


  2. Jesus and Illness


    1. Nowhere in the Bible can I find a specific prescription to cure depression. Does this mean the Bible is irrelevant to curing depression?


    2. Read Matthew 8:16-17. Was illness and infirmity part of Jesus' mission? (It was prophesied that Jesus "took up" our infirmities.)


      1. How did He do that? (In this text Jesus drove out evil spirits and healed disease.)


    3. What is Jesus' attitude towards illness? (Read Matthew 12:15. Jesus showed us that He wants us to be free of all illness.)


    4. Read Luke 11:9-10. If Jesus wants us to be free from depression, and He has the power to cure all illness, and He has promised to give us the things we request, is just asking the answer to depression?


  3. Paul and Illness


    1. Read Acts 14:8-10. What was the key to the healing of this man? (Faith to be healed.)


    2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. The Bible does not explain the nature of Paul's "thorn." Perhaps it was depression. Did Paul ask that the thorn be taken away? (Yes! He pleaded.)


      1. What about Jesus' promise to give us what we ask? Why didn't that work here?


    3. In Acts 14:9-10 we read that Paul healed the man who had faith. What does Paul's situation say about faith and healing? (Obviously, Paul still suffered from his "thorn" even though he asked and he had great faith.)


    4. Look again at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. What positive purpose might depression serve? (Paul tells us that difficulties in life help strengthen our faith. He also suggests that his thorn helped him to handle his pride.)


      1. What was Paul's attitude towards the thorn that he begged to have taken away? (He said he delighted in it.)


      2. Would it seem reasonable to you to delight in depression?


    5. We know that God loves us. We know that Jesus eliminated the mental illness He encountered. We know God promised to help us when we ask. But, we see Paul suffering from his "thorn" and we know that we suffer. How can we reconcile these apparently opposing ideas? (If the goal of our life is to give glory to God, Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that our depression allows God's power to rest on us. We can use it to show how God can work through our weakness.)


  4. Faith and Illness


    1. Hebrews 11 recites glorious stories about faith and victory over oppressing problems. It also discusses something else. Read Hebrews 11:36-39. What is the relationship between faith and avoiding suffering? (When it comes to life on earth, the answer may be "none.")


      1. Notice the reference to a promise. Whose promise is this? (God's promise to them.)


    2. Read Hebrews 11:40. What is faith's answer to suffering and what appears to be a broken promise? (Heaven. God, who hates illness and disease, will fulfill His promise to make all things "perfect." In the meantime, we should consider our depression a vehicle for giving glory to God.)


    3. What have we learned about depression so far? That good people, people of faith suffer from it. Our God is opposed to suffering, He cured it when He walked the earth. But, we see that suffering can be a tool to improve our Christian witness and our Christian walk. Not until heaven will God cure all suffering.)


    4. Does this sound like nonsense to you? Depression can be good? (Depression is a very widespread problem. If you deal positively with your depression because of your faith, think what you have to offer to all those who suffer from the same affliction?)


  5. Saul and Depression


    1. Read 1 Samuel 15:26-29 and 1 Samuel 15:35. King Saul's sin caused God to reject him as king. How did this sin affect Samuel? (It depressed Samuel.)


      1. What does this teach us about the source of depression? (Sometimes the bad decisions of others creates depression.)


    2. Read 1 Samuel 16:23. Did Saul suffer from depression? What helped him with it? (Our sins can cause depression. Separation from God, as in King Saul's case, allowed an evil spirit to enter him. However, music helped Saul with depression.)


  6. Elijah and Depression


    1. Recall that Elijah was at the center of the glorious defeat of the prophets of Baal. Victories do not get any more impressive than that one. Let's read 1 Kings 19:2-4. How is our victor doing? (He is depressed. He wants to die.)


    2. Read 1 Kings 19:5-6. Excessive sleep is connected with depression. What angelic treatment for depression do we find? (The angel asked Elijah to get up and eat. We need to choose to go forward, even if we feel depressed.)


      1. Does Elijah keep moving forward? (No. He goes back to sleep!)


    3. Read 1 Kings 19:7-10. What angelic remedy do we see here? (He gets Elijah moving again and he gives him a goal.)


      1. Has Elijah's depression gotten better? (He is not asking to die.)


      2. What do we see in these verses that might aid us with depression? (Elijah has done a lot of walking. Exercise is an important tool to combat depression.)


    4. Read 1 Kings 19:11-13. What remedy for depression do we see here? (God has Elijah observe that God can do great things by no visible means. God is above all power on earth.)


      1. What question does God ask? (Notice this is the second time God has asked this ( 1 Kings 19:9): "What are you doing here?")


      2. What does this teach us about depression? (When depression hits, we need to review the power of God in our life. Then we need to make a decision to move forward and accomplish what God has assigned to us.)


    5. Friend, if you suffer from depression will you try this approach? Will you decide that you will move forward in weakness so that the glory of God may be displayed in your life? Exercise and good nutrition are simple steps we can take to help. If you are using drugs to help, read Anatomy of an Epidemic, and make an informed decision. God loves us, He understands our mind, and in His time He will cure our depression.


  7. Next week: Resilience.

  1. Downcast Soul


    1. Read Psalms 42:9-11. What two problems does this poor person face? (His bones hurt and he is depressed.)


      1. In your experience do these two things sometimes go together? (If you are in pain, it is hard to have joy.)


      2. Sometimes when someone is depressed, we say "trust God." What does this text teach us about depression and trusting in God? (The writer of these verses calls God "my Rock," yet he suffers from despair.)


        1. What does the writer of these verses suggest is the solution to despair? (In verse 11 he says "put your hope in God" and praise will come.)


          1. How does that make any sense if he already trusts God, but suffers from despair? (Because we are human, we face suffering. That does not change the fact that trusting God puts us on the path to the solution.)
    2. Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-5. How would you like to invite this fellow to a party?


      1. This is King Solomon writing. How wise was King Solomon? (Read 1 Kings 3:11-12. God said no one would ever be like Solomon.)


      2. Is what King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:5 true? (Of course not. Jesus promises us in John 6:38-40, that we will have a further reward. That reward will be eternal life.)


        1. What caused King Solomon to write what he did? (Solomon suffered from depression.)


    3. What have we learned so far? That a wise person, a person who trusts God, can suffer from depression! If wise, trusting people suffer from depression, for what can we hope? Let's turn to that next.


  2. Jesus and Illness


    1. Nowhere in the Bible can I find a specific prescription to cure depression. Does this mean the Bible is irrelevant to curing depression?


    2. Read Matthew 8:16-17. Was illness and infirmity part of Jesus' mission? (It was prophesied that Jesus "took up" our infirmities.)


      1. How did He do that? (In this text Jesus drove out evil spirits and healed disease.)


    3. What is Jesus' attitude towards illness? (Read Matthew 12:15. Jesus showed us that He wants us to be free of all illness.)


    4. Read Luke 11:9-10. If Jesus wants us to be free from depression, and He has the power to cure all illness, and He has promised to give us the things we request, is just asking the answer to depression?


  3. Paul and Illness


    1. Read Acts 14:8-10. What was the key to the healing of this man? (Faith to be healed.)


    2. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. The Bible does not explain the nature of Paul's "thorn." Perhaps it was depression. Did Paul ask that the thorn be taken away? (Yes! He pleaded.)


      1. What about Jesus' promise to give us what we ask? Why didn't that work here?


    3. In Acts 14:9-10 we read that Paul healed the man who had faith. What does Paul's situation say about faith and healing? (Obviously, Paul still suffered from his "thorn" even though he asked and he had great faith.)


    4. Look again at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. What positive purpose might depression serve? (Paul tells us that difficulties in life help strengthen our faith. He also suggests that his thorn helped him to handle his pride.)


      1. What was Paul's attitude towards the thorn that he begged to have taken away? (He said he delighted in it.)


      2. Would it seem reasonable to you to delight in depression?


    5. We know that God loves us. We know that Jesus eliminated the mental illness He encountered. We know God promised to help us when we ask. But, we see Paul suffering from his "thorn" and we know that we suffer. How can we reconcile these apparently opposing ideas? (If the goal of our life is to give glory to God, Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that our depression allows God's power to rest on us. We can use it to show how God can work through our weakness.)


  4. Faith and Illness


    1. Hebrews 11 recites glorious stories about faith and victory over oppressing problems. It also discusses something else. Read Hebrews 11:36-39. What is the relationship between faith and avoiding suffering? (When it comes to life on earth, the answer may be "none.")


      1. Notice the reference to a promise. Whose promise is this? (God's promise to them.)


    2. Read Hebrews 11:40. What is faith's answer to suffering and what appears to be a broken promise? (Heaven. God, who hates illness and disease, will fulfill His promise to make all things "perfect." In the meantime, we should consider our depression a vehicle for giving glory to God.)


    3. What have we learned about depression so far? That good people, people of faith suffer from it. Our God is opposed to suffering, He cured it when He walked the earth. But, we see that suffering can be a tool to improve our Christian witness and our Christian walk. Not until heaven will God cure all suffering.)


    4. Does this sound like nonsense to you? Depression can be good? (Depression is a very widespread problem. If you deal positively with your depression because of your faith, think what you have to offer to all those who suffer from the same affliction?)


  5. Saul and Depression


    1. Read 1 Samuel 15:26-29 and 1 Samuel 15:35. King Saul's sin caused God to reject him as king. How did this sin affect Samuel? (It depressed Samuel.)


      1. What does this teach us about the source of depression? (Sometimes the bad decisions of others creates depression.)


    2. Read 1 Samuel 16:23. Did Saul suffer from depression? What helped him with it? (Our sins can cause depression. Separation from God, as in King Saul's case, allowed an evil spirit to enter him. However, music helped Saul with depression.)


  6. Elijah and Depression


    1. Recall that Elijah was at the center of the glorious defeat of the prophets of Baal. Victories do not get any more impressive than that one. Let's read 1 Kings 19:2-4. How is our victor doing? (He is depressed. He wants to die.)


    2. Read 1 Kings 19:5-6. Excessive sleep is connected with depression. What angelic treatment for depression do we find? (The angel asked Elijah to get up and eat. We need to choose to go forward, even if we feel depressed.)


      1. Does Elijah keep moving forward? (No. He goes back to sleep!)


    3. Read 1 Kings 19:7-10. What angelic remedy do we see here? (He gets Elijah moving again and he gives him a goal.)


      1. Has Elijah's depression gotten better? (He is not asking to die.)


      2. What do we see in these verses that might aid us with depression? (Elijah has done a lot of walking. Exercise is an important tool to combat depression.)


    4. Read 1 Kings 19:11-13. What remedy for depression do we see here? (God has Elijah observe that God can do great things by no visible means. God is above all power on earth.)


      1. What question does God ask? (Notice this is the second time God has asked this ( 1 Kings 19:9): "What are you doing here?")


      2. What does this teach us about depression? (When depression hits, we need to review the power of God in our life. Then we need to make a decision to move forward and accomplish what God has assigned to us.)


    5. Friend, if you suffer from depression will you try this approach? Will you decide that you will move forward in weakness so that the glory of God may be displayed in your life? Exercise and good nutrition are simple steps we can take to help. If you are using drugs to help, read Anatomy of an Epidemic, and make an informed decision. God loves us, He understands our mind, and in His time He will cure our depression.


  7. Next week: Resilience.

Discussion

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