Still Holding On
Are you still holding on to God’s unchanging hand? Today’s sermon takes a look at holding on to God during sadness and depression
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. –
Lamentations 3:22 NKJV
Sadness and depression
Are you still holding on to His hand? That is, are you still holding on to God’s hand? I encourage all of you reading today’s message to first read Lamentations 3:14-26. I want to focus on sadness and depression in my message today.
I cannot say that the book of Lamentations (wailings) is one of my favorite books in the bible. Lamentations is a rather sad and depressing book. I believe I already live in a world that is rather sad and depressing, so I don’t personally care to ever escape, in my mind, to reading something that’s also sad and depressing. Yet, Lamentations, like other books in the Bible, serve a very important purpose for the readers of the Bible.
We must keep in mind that Lamentations was written on the heels of the fall of Jerusalem, and during the Israelites captivity to the Babylonians. In other words, Lamentations was written during a rather hard, sad, and depressing time for Israel. It is commonly accepted that the prophet Jeremiah is the author of this book and I guess you can say this is fitting when you consider that Jeremiah is known as the “weeping/crying prophet”.
Jeremiah was saddened that he had to deliver warnings and prophesies of Israel’s looming demise to his brethren. I imagine, in my finite mind, that Jeremiah would lay down at night and weep over the saddening messages he had to deliver to the people. He had to deliver: messages of the fall of Jerusalem; messages of death; messages of captivity. As a preacher in our time today, I understand the feeling of preaching when nobody is really listening. I know what it is like to do everything possible to bring God’s gospel to the world, but only have a handful of people listen.
Once Jerusalem fell, Jeremiah wrote this book of Lamentations. He pens one of the most hopeful passages of scriptures that we find in the bible. In the darkest hour, we see that Jeremiah still hoped in the Lord – Jeremiah was still holding on! When it seemed like there was no hope for the children of Israel, Jeremiah reminded the people that there is always hope in the Lord! I feel like we, today, need to hear this!
Are you still holding on?
Do you know that there is always hope in the Lord? As bad as things were for Jeremiah, he still had hope in the Lord. Hope that the Lord would keep not only him but also his people as well. Imagine how sad and depressed Jeremiah and his brethren were in those days. To keep that faith certainly says a lot about Jeremiah, but what about us?
One subject we don’t like to broach in the church today is depression. For whatever reason, we like to ignore the subject of sadness and depression – I do not understand why that is. We either don’t think depression is real or we don’t take depression as seriously as I believe we should. Yet, I tell you today that there is a spirit of depression and that spirit of depression is growing and spreading like a wildfire in the world today. The spirit of depression is also spoken of in scripture and, and I feel it is one of the most powerful wiles of the devil.
A depressed spirit is one who is losing or has lost heart; they are, in other words, broken-hearted. If you have been reading, listening, or watching my sermons over the recent years then you know that the heart is very important to me. I want to make sure we are clear on the subject of the broken-hearted. I believe there are three forms of depression: physical depression, mental depression, and spiritual depression. The heart is the soul. When we say somebody is broken-hearted or spiritually depressed, we are saying that they are depressed in their soul. So, how do we “fix” our broken heart or the broken-hearted?
Jesus, when he was in Nazareth at the start of His ministry, announced that He had come to heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18); notice that Jesus says “to heal”. Sounds familiar? In our sermon last week, we saw Jesus healing the father’s son who had been possessed by an unclean (impure) spirit. Remember, the father said that the spirit (demon) in the son would cast him into the fire and into the water trying to destroy him.
The spirit of sadness and depression are no different than the demon that possessed that father’s son. The spirit (demon) of sadness and depression has jump inside and possesses many today. I say that this spirit is not a spirit that is of the Lord who Himself is of love and joy. Depression, arguably, might be one of the worst spirits that one can pick up. Truthfully, I believe this to be the case because most people choose to continue to ignore things of the spiritual realm and we do not know how to properly diagnose the problem. Again I quote the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:12) in saying that we do not wrestle against the flesh and blood but against principalities!
Last week, we established that the disciples should have been able to heal the father’s son (Matthew 10:1) of his unclean spirit, but they were unable to do so (Mark 9:18). The trouble, we realized, was that the disciples did not present Jesus to the father or to the son. As disciples ourselves, because we are followers of Christ, we too have a ministry that we must share with all nations, but especially to those that are brokenhearted. This ministry cannot be a ministry simply of “I’ll pray for you” – we must break away from that! Solely because we always say that and we never ever pray for those we say that too.
Our ministry must be about genuinely presenting Christ to those around us. We must look to find ways that we can help by presenting God to those that are brokenhearted – broken in spirit! We sing that Jesus is “my” doctor and that He writes out all of “my” prescriptions, but again we are not telling those that need spiritual healing to go to the doctor for their prescription! We say “Jesus helped me” and expect that if they say His name He will be healed. Again, I can say a name all day long, but if there is no faith in my saying it, what does it do?
We spend so much time blaming others for not having faith. We proudly hunch our shoulders and say, “that’s their fault”; no, it’s our fault. We have allowed such spirits to go undiagnosed and untreated in the world today, and now the depressed spirits have gotten into our brethren and will not let them go. The depressed spirit now comes into the church and we don’t know how to treat the depressed spirit – that’s sad!
Overcome by holding on
We, as the Church, have failed our neighbors. Admittedly faith comes to some a lot easier than it does to others. We must remember that when it comes to faith, patience is a requirement and it takes time for some to learn patience. Paul says (Romans 14:1) that we should “receive one who is weak in the faith. (Romans 15:1) bear with the infirmities of the weak.” We all have our weaknesses – we all have our weaknesses but they do not make us weak.
I tell those that are depressed in spirit – brokenhearted and sad – you are not weak. We come from a people who looked on sadness and depression as a weakness; they thought you could rub the Georgia red clay on the injury and it would heal the injury. No, we must help lift each other up and bear with one another if we are going to overcome.
I want to help you today by presenting the Lord to you and showing you what God can do. I know that God can do this because I know what He has done for me. Jeremiah was sent off to Egypt (Jeremiah 43 & 44), again he was very sad and depressed, yet he still held on to his faith in the Lord.
In Lamentations 3:22, Jeremiah says:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
We have our struggles, heartache, and pain but we are not destroyed. We are not destroyed because the Lord loves us and does not allow this world to consume us! In our weakness, the Lord’s strength is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9). We must learn to actually live and boast in our infirmities – not allow the infirmity (weakness) to have the victory over us. For so long we stand ashamed to live within ourselves and we turn the victory over to our demons and allow them to gain the victory.
Do not give the victory to your demons when you can turn those demons over to God! I want you to hear this message today and I want you to understand it clearly! Turn your demons over to the Lord. If you are depressed in spirit today, I present to you a God that is compassionate, powerful, and merciful to those that hold on to His hand. I have come to God so many times with my infirmities that I think to myself, “God, I know you’re getting tired of me.” But the truth of the matter is that God does not grow weary of us and wants to help us with our infirmities.
If you are depressed in spirit, I want to also share this scripture from Lamentations 3:25:
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.
Your weaknesses (infirmities) are not going to vanish away immediately. Again I repeat, patience is required in faith in God!
It is our duty and responsibility, as believers, to be there for those who are defeated and broken in spirit. We have been given authority (power) over these unclean spirits – the power to present them to the Lord. We must not think that we can tell them to “have faith” and then leave it at that; our faith is also required. We must have faith to remain and be there for those that are broken-hearted, and also those that struggle with other infirmities. If they need counseling (professional help) we must still be there for those that are in need.
We fall short in our faith – we must overcome this failure.