Healing Spiritual Wounds (Chpt. 1)
Suffer from sadness and depression? Let’s take a spiritual look at depression and learn how to heal spiritual wounds so that we can better handle depression.
I have been wanting to touch on the subject of depression for a few months now, but have never made the time to sit down and type to all you on this subject matter; mostly because I am not one who has ever really had to deal with depression. This is not to say that I have never been depressed, but that I usually don’t stay depressed for too long. Is this a magical power that I possess? No, not at all! What I have noticed is that there are many people my age that is drowning in a sea of sadness and depression. As a pastor, preacher of God, I feel it is my responsibility to reach out to the broken-hearted.
Let me make a few disclaimers here before I jump into my writing. Disclaimer one: I am not a professional on the subject matter of depression. I will talk about depression from a spiritual aspect and also use scripture for help. Disclaimer two: scripture may not work for everybody because not everyone is a believer in God. So, that being said, if you feel you cannot open your mind to the Lord, this may not be for you. Disclaimer three: I am not all-knowing! I will often speak from my opinion or what I have experienced; it is likely that your opinions and experiences may differ – nothing is wrong with this. Disclaimer four: I am no professional writer! So, if my grammar is not perfect, charge it to my head and not my heart – also Grammarly because it did not catch the mistakes as it should have!
Is depression brand new?
So, where do I begin? I guess I could begin with my thoughts on depression. I’m a proud black man, so sadness and depression is not something that ever really came up when I was growing up. In fact, I can’t really recall ever talking about sadness and depression with my friends. I am going to guess that many of you reading this were probably in the same boat. The first time I truly recognized sadness and depression was when my brother posted about his ordeal with sadness and depression on his Instagram. This certainly opened my eyes to all of those that have talked about their depression before.
Then something tragic happened to me in June of 2016 which really opened my eyes. I was hospitalized and diagnosed with end-stage renal kidney failure – my kidneys had failed me that June due to high blood pressure. The first few months after this diagnosis, and going through treatment were the saddest and most depressing times of my young life. My dad had passed 5 years earlier, those days were hard, but nothing compared to those first few months of treatment. Yet, I tell you that I found myself growing stronger and stronger as a person. My sadness and depression were giving way to a more stronger person that now treats himself 4 days a week and sharing this testimony with you. I tell you that I did not grow stronger because of anything that I had done but because of my faith in the Lord – this is God’s doing.
We like to believe that things like depression are brand new in this world – that’s not true. Depression is not brand new. In fact, if you do enough studying of scripture, you will start to see that demon (depression) has been around since even the Old Testament days. Don’t believe me? Study Elijah in 1 Kings – he had a battle with depression. Study Jeremiah – he wrote the book after his name and Lamentations (arguably the saddest and most depressing book in the Bible). Even Jesus Christ dealt with depression!
The problem with depression is that we have allowed that demon to fester among us without us doing anything to fight off the demon. We develop vaccines to try and fight off the flu and colds, but we do absolutely nothing to help treat those infected by the demon of depression. By now, you may be wondering why do I keep referring to depression as a demon? Let’s take a moment to step into scripture so that you can better understand where I am coming from.
The Apostle Paul, also another man that dealt with depression, wrote (Ephesians 6:10-20) about wearing the whole armor of God. We often hear about the armor of God, but we often miss some very important things that the apostle mentioned in this passage. Paul said:
11 put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Wiles: devious or cunning stratagems employed in manipulating or persuading someone to do what one wants. What are the wiles of the devil? I believe they are opposed to everything that the Lord stands for. God stands for love, the devil stands opposite for that. God stands for truth, the devil stands opposite to the truth. The Lord wants us to be humble, the devil himself is prideful and looks to increase man’s pride. God wants to fill us with joy, the devil looks to tear down our soul.
For example: let’s take a look at the story of Job. Job was a man that the Lord said was perfect (blameless) and upright, yet Satan (the devil) sought to break Job (Job 1:6-12). Satan did everything in his power to destroy Job: killed his children, killed his stock, and destroyed his home. Many people like to talk about the patience of Job, and how Job never cursed the Lord, but when you study Job, you will see that he was a very depressed man that constantly questioned God. I would tell you that his depression was brought on by the wiles of the devil. I tell you that the devil is still at it today; this is why Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God.
Paul also said this and we must pay close attention to this (Ephesians 6:12):
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I am a spiritual person. We, mankind, was certainly created from the dust of the earth (space stuff) but the Lord breathed a piece of Himself into mankind and mankind became living souls. I believe that depression, while it is manifested physically and psychologically, begins in the soul (spirit). It is my opinion that depression has honestly been going mistreated because many of us don’t ever look to treat or heal our soul. I believe depression is the result of the ongoing spiritual warfare that has been taken place since before the time of mankind.
How we got to this point
We believe depression is a “new” thing because it’s spreading like a wildfire – it seems everybody is depressed. There’s a really good chance that you or someone you know is depressed; they may not admit to it but this is true. Here lies, arguably, the biggest problem with depression: we are unable and will not admit to our sadness and depression. I feel this to be a really big deal in the Church today. The Church: the full body of believers in Jesus Christ.
In the local church, we hardly ever talk about depression. I know this because I am the son of a preacher and have attended many church services. I can count on one hand how often depression came up in church. I am now a preacher, pastor, and can count using one hand how many sermons I have actually preached on depression (there are a few out there). Side note: I just preached a sermon – Still Holding On – that deals with depression. I have my thoughts and ideas on why this has happened in the church.
First thought: the generation before us did not stay sad or depressed long, so they did not know how to teach about sadness or depression. I have thought long and hard about my first thought and feel there is a great amount of truth to this. I think about my dad (who has passed), my grandparents (all have passed), uncles, aunts, and all of those that came before me and lived in very hard times; they grew to have a different kind of faith than we do today. James wrote (James 1:2-4) that trials increase faith (patience) and the people of that day had a great deal of faith. Faith is what brought them through, I really do believe that to be the case.
That said, I now realize that they were not really good teachers in teaching the younger generation how to handle something like depression. I don’t believe they really understood what depression was because they had a recovering faith that was built on the hope that things would get better. The older generation would simply say “have faith” and go about their day. They were able to tell their peers “have faith” and it would work for the most part because their peers understood what that meant. That generation held on to nothing but hope, and faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
My generation struggles with that kind of faith – that hopeful kind of faith. When I was going in-center for my treatments, I would also speak to what I “hoped” for. The in-center social worker would hear me and always say, “have faith” (I don’t think she understood my hopeful faith). Honestly, it feels at times that my generation could not care less about a sermon or lesson about faith – this leads me to my next thought on how this happened in the church.
Second thought: poor teaching. We don’t talk or preach about depression filling our communities because this generation does not want to hear that kind of message. I saw someone once say that preachers should focus on “why men cannot be faithful in a relationship”. I frowned; mostly because I don’t care much for anybody telling me what I should preach about, especially when they aren’t going to read, watch, listen, or attend service. I don’t believe that we as preachers can let the crowd dictate what our sermons be about, but that we should be led by the Spirit.
Sadly, I’ve noticed that a lot of preaching ends up being a hoop and holler about the things that will bring people (money) through the church doors: prosperity, relationship stuff, and great wealth (that’s money again, I suppose). We have gotten away from the message of the Lord, and then we wonder why it seems the world is “going to hell”. The doctrine of Christ has become intermingled with the doctrine of the world – that helps nobody. “What does this have to do with depression?” you may ask.
Well, the fact is that we in the local church are unable to help those that come to the local church for help on such matters. We pat them on the back, say a prayer, and then send them on their way – that’s not good enough. For me, it feels like we as believers, we as the Church, should be doing more to help. We have failed terribly. We have failed when it comes to helping the lost souls, and we have especially failed when it comes to helping the wounded soul. I often preach to the lost soul, as do many other preachers, but we must also learn to focus our attention to the ones broken in spirit.
Is faith really the fix
Do we suffer from depression due to a lack of faith? I mentioned earlier that I too have suffered from depression, but that it does not last long for me. I always credit my faith for bringing me through any and everything. I even accredited faith to bringing the generations before me through their hard times. I realize that this makes it seem that I am blaming depression on a lack of faith. Well, am I?
I had to think on this thought for some time because the answer is not simple. There are children that suffer from depression; is that due to a lack of faith? After all, what would a child know about faith, right? Do we suffer from depression today because we lack faith? The thing about depression is that there are so many different forms of depression.
Some of us are depressed because we can’t find love. Some of us are depressed because we can’t find a job, or land a job in our career path. Some of us are depressed because of the future. Some of us are depressed because of a decision we made in our past. There are simply so many things that can depress us nowadays, but is this because we lack faith?
Does lack of faith and depression play hand in hand? This, my friends, is an interesting question. You will recall that I mentioned men like Elijah and Jeremiah showed signs of depression, earlier in this “chapter”, yet these were men who were also very strong in their faith. Noah, another faithful man, was also one who showed signs of being depressed.
I cannot say that this is my final conclusion, but here is how I feel at the moment: depression, in its nature, does not care about your faith. Pay close attention to what I just said and what I am about to say. I believe that depression can hit those who are strong in their faith, just as hard as it can hit those who have no faith at all. However, the difference is in how we recover from depression. I believe that the one who is strong in his or her faith will better handle their depression than the one who has little or no faith at all.
An offer to help
The men of faith that I mentioned before (Noah, Elijah, Jeremiah, and even Jesus) were able to handle their depression. For us, we have to learn how to better handle our depression and live with our depression. Truthfully, depression is something that never really goes away; it find a way to rear its ugly head, so we have to learn how to put a handle on it.
We must first be able to admit to ourselves what we face. They say that when you learn how to swim, you have to come to an understanding that you’re not going to drown. I always tell people I know how to float! We have to learn how to not drown in our depression; the problem we face is that many of us begin to drown in our depression and give it the victory. Let’s not give depression the victory. Also, do not let anybody ever tell you that you’re weak because you get depressed – you’re strong because you can admit to it. If you take away anything from this “chapter”, let this paragraph be it!
As I stated in one of my disclaimers above: if you cannot have faith in Him, this may not be for you. My brother looks at his depression as a trial, and those trials require faith to get through. Over the next few months, I plan on writing and posting a “chapter” to help us with learning how to handle our depression. The sooner that we can learn to handle our depression, the better we will able to live. I know that what I have to share can work for you because it has and still works for me.