Depression: Strictly Chemical, or can there be Spiritual Causes?

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Depression and mental illness have become hot topics in the public eye in the past decade, and for good reason. Chaos and heartless acts are being televised everywhere, traumatic and high stress events occur in peoples’ lives, and it becomes so easy to stay stuck in an abysmal state of mind. For some people, depression is a chemical imbalance that can be treated with prescription drugs. I believe it goes deeper than that for many people nowadays though. Depression for some people comes from a place of spiritual turmoil. It is something I know from personal experience because I’ve been fighting with depression on and off for over a decade. It starts to eat away at you, pessimism is the easiest form of logic to use, hopelessness starts to flood into you, and just a general lack of self worth creates a house for itself in your heart and mind. These were constants in my life since my 8th grade year when one of my biggest life influences, my grandpa, passed away. When that happened, my fight or flight instincts kicked into gear about how do I react to this situation. The choices my heart and mind gave me were: cry out to God for comfort and just to understand why this happened, or run away in the anger that had welled up within the confusion and pain because of unresolved time with my grandfather.

 

I ran away from God that day because I was hurt, I didn’t know how to talk about what had happened, and I was scared to show a hole in my armor at school because it felt like the people at school fed on my failure and pain. I now know looking at the past that probably wasn’t true, but I lost that passion to learn for a bit because I didn’t want to be attacked from the inside and out. The experiences I’ve had may not have been pleasant, but we’ve got an example of someone in Scripture who has gone through much worse, and came out on top because of his faith in God. That man’s name is Job. I believe that if we take the time to understand him we can learn to sympathize or empathize with people who have gone through, or are going through spiritual depression.

 

Job 2:9 (NASB). “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Personally, this verse is the best example of a variant of the fight or flight question that ran through my mind. Job was given the option to hold fast to his integrity, which stems from his relationship with the Heavenly Father. He was also given the option to curse God and die. Given everything that had happened to him by this point, it would be extremely easy for anyone to cry out in anger against God. Job by this point had lost all his monetary wealth, his cattle were all decimated, his children all recently died, and he had just begun to lose his health. Even through all of that, he stayed faithful to YHWH. Job 2:10 (NASB): “But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

The response he gives has been stuck inside my head ever since I have read these verses. “…Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity…” That is such a healthy perspective on life, and one we must learn for ourselves. These words are ones I believe we must learn to use with one another in love and gentleness because it is easier to become angry with God, instead of realize we can use the rough patches of our lives as catalysts for something better. Whether that is to draw closer to God, be empathetic with another’s life stories, or to share our stories letting others know they aren’t the only ones struggling in this life.

-Andrew Cheatwood

 

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