Depression is on the rise in our society. The Centers for Disease Control reports antidepressant use in the United States increased nearly 400 percent over the last two decades.
When faced with troubling emotions, most of us turn to modern medicine. In olden times, there was no Prozac! What are we to do? Take it to God! It seems our faith in God has diminished. We have difficulty believing in a God who is omnipotent; One who can cure all. We must remember that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).
Our society looks upon those with depression as weaker vessels. Yet, if we look through the annals of history we find many a great person who was afflicted with this dreaded illness. Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary were both sufferers of what amounts to clinical depression. One greater comes to mind—King David. You say the David of the Bible?
Listen to David as he cries out to God in Psalm 6. He uses words like weary, sore vexed, weak, groaning, grief, and weeping to describe his feelings. He cried so much that his bed and couch are soaked with tears. This is a chronic issue as David describes these feelings other places in the Bible (Ps. 39 & 40:2). Certainly, these symptoms meet the modern-day criteria for a diagnosis of depression.
God has given mankind wisdom to develop medicine for this disease, but David did not have antidepressants. It is what he did, that is so crucial to receive healing from God. If medication be our lot, let us do so looking to God with an earnest expectation of healing in His time.
David would be the first to admit that we think too highly of ourselves. When David was compassed about by life’s hardships, his first step was to seek the Lord (Psalm 6:1). He turned his attention toward the Great Physician. Forget about the musings of mankind, they are filled with false hope. Without God, the healing process is doomed. It is like a mathematical problem; leave something out and it cannot be solved. Two plus two equals four, but man without God is zero.
Secondly, David asks the Lord to search him and reveal any sin in his life (Psalm 7). David is laying it all before the Lord. If we humble ourselves and honestly ask Him, then be prepared. God will reveal and provide help to the sincere.
Although we are incapable of fully describing God’s majesty, due to the finite limits of our mind, David makes a great attempt in this third step in Psalm 8. In spite of his afflictions, he praises God! We, likewise, must praise Him if we want the victory we desperately seek. Will we be heard singing, “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1, 9)? Peace can only be obtained by seeking, asking and praising God Almighty.
“Nevertheless the children of Israel expelled not the Geshurites…but [they] dwell among the Israelites until this day” (Joshua 13:13).
Doesn’t that phrase bother you?
God has given the Israelites the Promised Land. It’s ripe for the taking. All they need to do is claim the fullness of God’s blessings and proceed in His power! As long as Joshua helped them, they would evict the enemy. Once Joshua’s age became prohibitive and he could no longer expand the people’s access to all God had given them, the people settled to abide the enemy.
My personal motto is: “Content, but never satisfied.” Humor me for a moment. Although the two words “content” and “satisfied” are often synonymous, there is a nuance of difference. “Content” is an adjective which describes one who is at ease with his current possession. If one is content, he is no longer seeking for something beyond the borders of his blessings. “Satisfied” is a verb and literally means “do enough.” In Paul’s terminology, I wish to learn “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). Yet is my work ever done? have I ever done enough to evict the enemies from my God-given blessings? Have I finished my course for the cause of Christ? No, not until I breathe my final breath on this earth will I be satisfied or have done enough.
Caleb approaches Joshua and requests, “Give me this mountain…for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12). Caleb was one, at the age of 85, who remembered God’s promise to him through Moses and he claimed his rightful inheritance within the parameters of God’s blessing. To go beyond the borders of the Promised Land would have been discontent. To settle with the enemy feasting on your blessings is the sin of complacency. “To be content but never satisfied,” should have been the Israelites motto.
So I wish to be content with what God has given me but explore and expand within His blessing to know fully the scope of what it is I possess. Rise up like Caleb and take in the full horizon of God’s blessing in your life.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Seek first the kingdom of God. What was Christ telling us? How does that instruction look in a devoted believer’s life?
Let’s take man’s natural inclination (which is not to seek God’s kingdom) and visit Genesis 11. There you see the descendants of Noah gathered together in the city of Babel. Nimrod, the defiant, had established the city and created a kingdom. It culminated in the people making this declaration, “Let us make a name for ourselves!” So they built the city and a tower whose top was to pierce the heavens, so they may arrogantly announce, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God!”
Their resources combined to seek their own kingdom, yet the very thing they wanted to mount stirred wonder in the psalmist. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars…what is man?” Then the exclamation bursts from his lips, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” He was not seeking his own kingdom, but was admiring the kingdom of God.
When we seek our own kingdom, we see the world differently. We use our life differently. Our ambition is to leave a mark for posterity. Our aim is self-gratification. We see the world as ours for our own consumption. When we seek the kingdom of God, we desire His mark on our life. We marvel at His creative force and are compelled to worship Him in humility. It revolves around the name.
Are you busy making a name for yourself or are you consumed with the excellence and adoration of the name above all names?
I’m sure we have all seen the old Western movies in which a picture of the fugitive from the law would be posted indicating that the sheriff just wants the criminal captured, whether dead or alive. In our reading today in Romans 6, we are challenged with the thought that God wants us to consider ourselves both dead and alive.
This critical chapter starts with Paul answering a question that some had apparently asked, “Since God’s grace is greater than my sin, does this give me the freedom to continue sinning?” Paul gives a very direct and pointed response of “God forbid!”, meaning “certainly not!” He then introduces the thought that we as Christians should consider ourselves as being dead to sin. According to verse 6, at the moment of our salvation, our “old man”, i.e. our sin nature, was symbolically crucified with Christ on the cross. So as Christ died on the cross, so too was our old man crucified with him.
Whereas we normally think of death in a negative light, this death of our old man is a wonderful thing! Verse 7 reads, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Because our old man was crucified with Christ, our bondage to sin has been broken! We do not need to let sin reign in our lives and obey its desire and passions. Do we sometimes voluntarily yield ourselves back to the power of sin? Absolutely. However, that decision was our choice as the divine power is available for us to live victoriously over sin.
So while we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, verse 11 teaches us to “reckon” or consider ourselves to be “alive to God.” In contrast to yielding our bodies as instruments of sin, we are to present ourselves and our members as instruments of righteousness (vs. 13). Our same bodies that used to be a slave/servant of sin can now be used as instruments of righteousness to accomplish God’s purposes in our lives. What a blessed turnaround!
There is something majestic and romantic when you see an old wooden vessel. As it regally stands at attention in the harbor, imagine the life and experience of such a ship. Envision the exotic scenery, the splendid moments of valor it witnessed. Capture in your mind’s eye the torment of struggle in the squall of the terrifying sea storm. As some of these ships were eventually retired and dismantled, a writer documented how exquisite the lumber of these ships appeared. He tells of an oak beam from one ship which had been on the high seas for eighty years exhibited such coloring and distinctive grain it attracted the attention of many a passersby in a local furniture shop. A mahogany beam which had sixty years experience with colors deepened and grain defined was compared to the artistic value of a Chinese vase.
What conditioned this timber into such a spectacle? It was not age alone. The “straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and the many kinds of cargoes” transformed the original bright fiber into something of esteemed value.
James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). You are that ship sailing on the seven seas of life. You face the hurricanes of tragedy, the gnawing of old age, the burdens of cares all which contribute to your exquisite character.
Suffering cannot be avoided. Eliphaz had that much right when he said, “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Suffering should be endured because it identifies us with Christ: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
Suffering fashions you into a vessel of honor which will one day be a display of God’s marvelous works (Job 5:9).
“The Lord trieth the righteous. In the Lord put I my trust” (Psalm 11:1, 5).
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).