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  • Writer's pictureIan Ferguson

The Big 'D' Word-not in the book

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

The book I am referring to is the Bible and the Word is ‘depression’ The word is not found in the bible, but the condition is indeed there. A common definition of the word 'depression' “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home” The Bible does not use the word but it does use words that describe a full understanding of the experience. The Bible uses words, such as “downcast,” “broken-hearted,” “troubled,” “miserable,” “despairing,” and “mourning,” among others. As you read the Bible you come across men and women who were great leaders. They were people of faith, and some struggled with and battled against dark times of depression and feelings of hopelessness. Why do we have accounts, in the Bible, of people with faith who struggle with depression or darkness? Why does the Bible not simply focus on the triumphs of faith? Why the accounts of struggles, defeats, failures, and weaknesses? Don't get me wrong, the Bible resounds with the message of triumph and victory. The Easter narrative is all about the greatest enemy, death itself, being defeated. Part of the answer lies in the fact that the Bible is a book of realism- looking at people as they are and not as we would like them to be. People are human. People make mistakes. People turn away from God. People sometimes live with the silence of God, where their prayers feel as though they are hitting a wall and not being heard by God. Only one man lived the pure life. Only one man displayed all the godly attributes. He never sinned, he never failed, he never let anyone down, he never lacked faith and all this he did as a human being, and not as some superhero infused with such power that he overcame before he even entered the trial. No, he did all things as a man, fully human and fully divine.

Yet he knew the agony of loneliness and separation. Go to the garden of Gethsemane and watch Jesus struggle as he contemplates what lies ahead. The Cross!! Separation from His Father in heaven. His agony and cry of dereliction 'My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"

Here is a man who empathizes in every way with our human condition. We struggle and fail at times. We fall short of God's standards. We often fail to live up to our own teaching. We talk the talk but sometimes don't walk the walk. However, When we look at the characters in the Bible we see the same frailty in them as we see in ourselves. They are not heralded as people who have it all together. Yes, we see men and women who are overcomers and who do amazingly brave things. We see them triumphant and victorious over great odds and challenges. Yet, they face many trials and make mistakes. But they are lifted up, forgiven, and restored. So when we read of them there is a resounding note of HOPE echoing the pages of scripture. The hope lies in the fact that they put their trust in God who helps them and sustains them. When I see an Elijah running scared for his life, wanting to give up on life itself, or a Jonah who wants to end his life because things are not working out the way he had hoped, and when I see how God knew them, understood them, came to their rescue, then I feel hopeful. Whatever you are facing, especially you as a leader, remember you are not alone. God is not looking for perfection in people like us. He is looking for those who will look to Him and see a loving Father, who is pleased with his children. One who loves us and walks beside us.

If you are struggling, if you feel that you can't go on, if you think you are finished and done then believe me when I say you are not alone. Many of us have felt just like that.

So my prayer is that will give you hope and encouragement to go on.


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