Workshop: Under the Juniper Tree, Part 1
“Even Christians Get Depressed”
This is a three part Christian workshop discussing the causes and management of depression. Please read the three sections and let's discuss the material in each section. If you are dealing with depression, let's talk about it as a community. If you have questions or would like more information, please leave your responses in the comment section below.
Do Christians get depressed? Think about this question for a moment. Ponder over it before you answer. If we are grounded and rooted in God and our faith, how then can we say that we become depressed? Isn’t that what having faith is all about – believing and hoping in that which we cannot see? Isn’t that why Jesus is our Savior, our Lord, our Father, our everything? Doesn’t his word say if we abide in Him and he abides in us then we can ask anything and it will be done? Doesn’t he tell us to cast our cares upon him? Or what about the passage of scripture that says, ‘He doesn’t put anymore on us than we can bear?’
Part 1 of this 3 part Christian Workshop Online Continues
Let’s continue to see what Elijah did. In 1 Kings Chapter 19 it states: 1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
Here, in the above passages of scripture, we see that Elijah ran for his life. He was terrified. He believed he was at the end, and that there was no one who would rescue him from the evil, murderous hands of Jezebel. He ran so far and so fast that he left his servant behind in a town called Beersheba. He must have really been running! How many times do we run in every direction but toward God, when trouble comes knocking at our door? How many times do we seek ungodly counsel and advice from everyone except God? How many times do we lay awake at night, depressed and worried and wondering how we’re going to pay the stack of bills piled high on our nightstands? How many times do we worry about the bad report the doctor gave us about ourselves or our loved ones? Well, like Elijah, we run away from God instead of toward God. We become depressed; feel hopeless, sad and despondent.
God, however, does not forsake his children. “All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
Oh, yes, you see. God supplied food and drink and shelter for Elijah. He told Elijah to get up! Rise up, Elijah. Twice he provided for Elijah while he slept and cowered under the juniper tree. The times when he was at his lowest, when he felt like it would be better if he died, God was yet there. God directed his angels to feed Elijah and to give him drink. Not just any old kind of good, but he provided a cake of bread that was good and hot and a jar of water. Elijah gained strength, so much so that he was able to travel for forty days and forty nights!
God is with us, even in the midst of our depression. God is with us, in the midnight hour when we think we are alone. God is with us, caring for us, watching after us, working things out on our behalf behind closed doors. He is our provider, the one true and loving God!
11 The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." The story continues in 1 Kings Chapter 19. God instructs Elijah to go back the way he came. He told him what he wanted him to do which was to go to the Desert of Damascus and anoint a man by the name of Hazael to be king over Aram and to anoint Jehu, who was the son of Nimshi, to be king over Israel, and anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat, to succeed Elijah as prophet. The Lord said, 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him." 19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.
There we have the story of Elijah! We see how God yet delivers him out of his state of despondency and depression. God tells him to go back! He tells him what to do along every step of the way. That’s the kind of God we serve. We serve a God who will be with us when we are fearful, when we are afraid. We serve a God who will tell us what to do, where to go and when we get to our destination, God will tell us what to say. While we’re trying to figure it all out, God has already worked it out! God is our present help in time of trouble. When we don’t know where our next dime is coming from, God will open the windows of heaven and blessings will fall upon us. I am a living witness. There are times that I have suffered hardships and defeats, yet God has kept me. I am still here, living and breathing. Whatever the enemy, that old sly one called Lucifer and satan, steals from us, God will restore it and more. God is a God of restoration, even in the midst of depression.
Did you know that Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon, two great theologians, frequently lived with depression? You can answer below.
There’s a story told about Charles Spurgeon. “On an unforgettable Sunday morning in 1866, the great Charles Spurgeon stunned his five thousand listeners when from the pulpit of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle he announced, "I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to." Charles Spurgeon is knows as one of the world’s greatest preachers; one of the world’s greatest theologians. Spurgeon was truly a modern day man after God’s own heart, yet. Yes, yet, he suffered from depression. Twenty-one years from the very same pulpit, Spurgeon said the congregation gathered, "Personally I have often passed through the dark valley."
As for Martin Luther, history states that when he was depressed h e often hid away in darkness, away from everyone, including his family. His family went so far as to make sure Martin Luther did not have the chance to get hold of any knives, scissors or other objects he might be able to use to bring harm to himself.
More than Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, there are great men of the Bible who lived with depression. Many of you have heard about Job. Job lost so much and experienced so much suffering in such a short length of time that he became totally depressed to the point that he cursed the day of his birth (Job 3:1). Job was so depressed and miserable that he cried out to God, "My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me" (Job 17:1). Then there is Jonah. Jonah had an eye witness view of God’s majesty, power and grace in Ninevah where evilness dwelt. Yet, even after witnessing for himself, the power of God, Jonah still became depressed. Jonah said, in his time of depression, "Death is better to me than life" (Jonah 4:3). What about the great prophet Jeremiah? Jeremiah was so depressed that we questioned his very existence. “Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow?" (Jeremiah 20:18).
Even Moses became so depressed to the point where he wanted to die (Exodus 32:32). So, you see, we are not alone. There are many instances where God’s people suffered from depression. Great people of God! People who had seen with their own eyes the mighty works of God became depressed at the signs of trouble, sickness and turmoil. Just like you and I, they suffered in their flesh and felt as if to die would be better than to stay and face the situations life had them in.
I read somewhere that depression is defined as "the common cold of emotional disorders and it appears to be on the rise. People of both genders get depressed, although women are twice as likely as men to suffer from major depressive disorders." In another article I read, it describes depression as “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.
Feeling of isolation and dejection, in other words, depression has touched the lives of not only ordinary people like you and me, but people like Anna Nicole Smith, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe, actress Marilyn Monroe, pop singer Britney Spears, news reporter Mike Wallace, famous painter Vincent Van Gogh, actor Owen Wilson. The suicide rate among today’s teens has increased dramatically. It all stems from depression.
While many, literally millions of people everyday, walk around in a state of despondency and depression, there is yet hope. God will not leave us without a way out. God will never leave us or forsake us, even during our bouts of depression and despair. He is able to keep us when we can’t keep ourselves. He is able to hold us and comfort us, when there is no one who we can turn to.
God is the one true and only God. His promises are true. Even in the worst of times. When my fiance’, Roderick was murdered in 1997, the pain and agony seemed too much for me to bear. Yet, God saw me through it all. I don’t remember the times I sobbed and I didn’t see a way out. But I’m still here and God has kept me. God tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:8 (New International Version) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; Psalms 34:17 (KJS) The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. Isaiah 41:10 (KJS) Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Continue reading for the conclusion to this community workshop.
Read part 2 by clicking here.
Read part 2 by clicking here.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.
Introduction for the workshop, Part One and Part Two are also included here. Please take part in all three sessions.
Novelist, Shelia E. Lipsey, is a native Memphian. She attended Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, graduating magna cum laude with a BBA degree. Lipsey, a published author, professional copyeditor and inspirational speaker has been actively writing and speaking most of her life. Lipsey has written several short stories and over 200 poems which she has plans of publishing in the near future. Her novels with Urban Books are entitled, Into Each Life (Jan. ’07), Sinsatiable (Aug.’07). Lipsey’s third novel, My Son’s Wife will be released October 1, 2008. Visit her website today for more details and to read excerpts: http://www.shelialipsey.com/
Among Lipsey’s list of literary accomplishments and affiliations, she was awarded Conversations Book Club 2008 Author of the Year (thebestbookclub.info), Dallas Morning News Bestselling Author ’07, Urban Knowledge Memphis Bestselling Author ‘07; Founding president Memphis African American Writers Group (MAAW), president Urban Christian's UC His Glory Book Club (uchisglorybookclub.net)
Shelia is also the founder of 1st Annual Living Your Dreams Literary Arts Seminar (livingyourdreamsnow.net); founder of The Word According to Shelia Newsletter; Publishing & a contributing writer for Victorious Voice Magazine (www.victoriousvoice.com) online member of Black Writers Christian Network (email@example.com), Booknibbler_Christian, Black, Copy Editor (www.shelialipsey.com). Lipsey is also acontributing blogger for Sankofa Literary Society(sankofaliterarysociety.org), guest columnist at Blogginginblack.com, as well as several other online literary groups.