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Monthly Archives: July 2019

Depressingly, Depressed!

Last week, my blog was about the person with whom I believe is the poster boy from the Bible for Bi-Polar disorder. This week I would like to attempt to take the person that I believe is the best representative from the Bible that suffers from depression.

I have heard people refer to Jeremiah as the weeping prophet. We have read about the hard spots that Joseph continually found himself in; which could make anyone depressed. In the book of Job, he says that his afflictions lasted months [ (7:3, 29:2) and I can sympathize having myself suffered from pain for years and it is depressing.] In 2 Kings, King Zedekiah watched as his sons were killed and then his eyes were poked out. Can you imagine having that horrific sight stuck in your head until death? That has to be depressing.

However, when I think about depression there is one person that stands out more than the rest. Hannah! You know Samuel’s mom. We find her story in 1 Samuel 1-2. Hannah was barren and at that time not being able to have children was detrimental to life. If a wife outlived her husband and did not have children she was doomed. Without a son, she would be a beggar or bound for prostitution. That is why in the book of Ruth, Naomi said call me Mara (1:20).

Elkanah, Hannah’s husband also had another wife. A wife that bore him children and as if being barren was not enough, she also had to compete for her husband’s love. And all of these things I am sure brought her self esteem down into the mud.

The Mayo Clinic has a website that is pretty cool and on it is a list of the symptoms of depression. Let me state that if you feel that you suffer from depression you need to consult a doctor (if you have not already done so). Now here are a few of the symptoms that Hannah displayed.

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-image

One of the symptoms of depression is loss of appetite and we see this in 1 Samuel 1:5 when seeing that Elkanah would give her a double portion of the meat from his offering, and in lines 7 and 8, we see that her eating problems lasted for years.

Another symptom that Hannah displayed
was feelings of sadness and tearfulness. We see her crying in lines 7, 8, and 10.

We also know from lines 6 and 7 that Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah would taunt Hannah year after year for being barren. Which I am sure made Hannah feel even more worthless and brought about even more frustration and more anxiety. Not to mention bringing up all the painful thoughts of past failures at conceiving a child.

Let’s face it Hannah is the poster girl from the Bible for depression. But in all of this God was faithful, and blessed Hannah with Samuel and then with three other sons and two daughters (2:21).

I am a man writing this and it is hard for me to completely wrap my head around what Hannah was going through. But what I can say is that I sympathize and empathize with it. I have had the awesome opportunity to pray with a couple going through this exact same thing. And it has changed the way I look at Hannah’s story

I know many people suffer from depression, so I am writing this in the hopes that seeing someone struggling with something that you struggle with from the bible will give you hope. God promises never to leave you and never to forsake you. His love is eternal!

Sources

Mayo Clinic website for depression

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King Saul, Bi-Polar, What?

I have not heard many people talk much about mental disease and the Bible. If you looked around, I am willing to bet that you know someone who has a mental disorder. Maybe you even know a couple of people that suffer from a disorder of some sort, maybe it is even you.

Over the next couple of post, I want to take a look at some people from the Bible that may have suffered from a possible mental disorder. One of the reasons I am doing this is because I have a brother that suffers from being Bi-Polar and he was amazed when I told him that God’s Word contained people that have suffered from mental illnesses as well. I also wanted to point out to him that God supplies help and sometimes a cure to people suffering from these disorders.

Now through this last statement, there is no judgment. I am not saying that the cure can only come through God’s supernatural intervention, but rather that I believe God uses other people and even medicine to help us out. In fact, I love how Rick Warren states it, when he said, “If my heart isn’t working, and I take a pill, nobody thinks anything of it. [Same with the liver]. But if my brain doesn’t work right and I take a pill, I’m supposed to be ashamed of that? What’s wrong with that?”

So now back to the topic at hand, and the first disorder: Bi-Polar disorder and that brings us to King Saul. Now I did say King Saul, not the apostle Paul but King Saul. If you are wondering who that is, I will give a brief introduction.

King Saul was Isreal’s first king. He would have kind of looked like Actor Liev Schreiber ( who is of Jewish descent), with a beard. He was tall, muscular and handsome. (1 Sam 9:2) I do not often describe a man as handsome, but as my wife tells me Liev is, we will use him. Liev is 6’3″ tall and at least in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he was buff. Now that I have given you a mental picture of what King Saul would have looked like we will proceed.

God chose Saul as king from among all the tribes of Isreal, more specifically he was from the tribe of Benjamin. As we established above he was tall, handsome and it may have seemed like he had everything going for him, However, he had problems, maybe mental problems. I would like to assert that he might have had Bi-Polar Disorder

Here is a chart that the Mayo Clinic put out displaying some of the symptoms of Bi-Polar disorder:

Mood: anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, elevated mood, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness

Behavioral: aggression, agitation, crying, disorganized behavior, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, restlessness, risk-taking behaviors, or self-harm

Cognitive: delusion, false belief of superiority, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, slowness inactivity, or unwanted thoughts

Psychological: agitated depression, depression, manic episode, or paranoia

Weight: weight gain or weight loss

Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness
Also common: fatigue or rapid and frenzied speaking

Now, this is a pretty long list and I am only going to examine a couple of these areas in Saul’s life.

The first symptoms Saul displayed that are common among people who suffer from Bi-Polar disorder are apprehension and loss of interest. In 1 Samuel 9 and 10, Saul went from being a normal man to being the king. We read how one day he is eating, prophesizing and worshipping with the prophets (9:22 and 10:13). And then a couple of days later when it is time for Saul to become the king, Samuel had to inquire of the LORD to find Saul, because he was hiding among the supplies (10:22).

Another set of symptoms King Saul displayed was his mood swings and paranoia. He could go from eating at the king’s table to trying to kill his own son with a spear ( 20:22-23). Or from celebrating a victory in battle one day to trying to kill David the next (18:10-11).

Saul also made reckless decisions and was impulsive which are two more traits of a person struggling with being Bi-Polar. He made unauthorized burnt and fellowship offerings to God because of his impatience (13:9). He also made a rash oath about eating during battle when his troops could have used food to boost their energy because they were worn out. All because he wanted vengeance (14:24). He even made more reckless decisions than the ones I have listed.

He also displayed many other traits throughout his 42 years as king, and you can be a Berean and look those up yourselves. There is, however, something awesome about how God reacted to all of this. How God provides help to King Saul, much like how the therapist prescribes medication to help people struggling with mental disorders. See God sent him relief through David. First, with how He used David to calm the evil spirits with the music David played, and then in the fact that David spared Saul’s life not once but twice. David could have struck Saul down and took his kingship but out of respect and love for the LORD, and the LORD’s anointed David kept waiting upon the LORD for his promised kingdom.

Now I am not a psychologist and I am not saying that King Saul absolutely suffered from a Mental Disorder, all I am doing is painting a picture that could possibly be true with the ultimate hope that it will get people to see how much God loves them. God loved Saul! We know this because God knows everything. So we know that God chose Saul as king knowing that he was going to screw up. Much like we do, but also the mere fact that Saul reigned for 42 years as king shows God’s love for him. God’s long-suffering here proves He loves us too despite whatever is going on in our lives. I would also like to point out that Saul’s possible symptoms showed both before and after God removed His Spirit from him, so I am in no way stating that God made him or anyone else Bi-Polar.

I love what the Word says in 1 Corinthians 1: 27- 29, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Source

Christian Post, 2013, Rick Warre interview

Xmen Origins: Wolverine, 2009, Marvel Comics Films

Bi-Polar symptoms chart, Mayo Clinic

Remnant = Support

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:14

There have been times where I feel like I can totally empathize or is it sympathize with Elijah( maybe it is both). How about you?

I know in my walk there have been times where the weight of my sins have made me feel alone and on the verge of defeat. Now I know that my circumstances are different from Elijah, in that I am not being persecuted by rulers or other people because of living out my faith or obeying God. At times, however, I do feel that Satan and his minions are putting so much pressure on me that I will crack. And Elijah felt just this way.

Elijah felt this way so much so that he was pleading with the LORD in verse 4 to take his life from him. He felt like he was alone and helpless. He felt that his fate was going to be the same as his fathers. And this is the area that I and maybe you can empathize with him.

When dealing with overcoming sin in our lives, at times we do feel helpless, alone and defeated. I know that there have even been times where I have pleaded with God, “saying that it would better for me to come home than to stay and fight.” Let me state here that in no way am I saying that I have contemplated suicide! Just like I am sure Elijah wasn’t thinking about taking his own life. What I am saying is that maybe I just wanted the easy way out.

In all of this, however, God restores Elijah’s hope and hopefully ours as well. In verse 15, 16 and 18 the Word states,”

And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be a prophet in your place. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:15‭-‬16‭, ‬18

I love this blessed reassurance! God, in His still, small voice tells Elijah that He is bringing about change and that He is going to bless him with brothers to help him to not feel defeated and alone anymore.

Another verse that I love that goes so well with these verses and quenches that idea of loneliness is from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Just like for Elijah, God has risen people up to help us in our battles against sin. People like our spouses and our brothers or sisters, so let us soak up all that our heavenly Father is pouring our way.

Challenge

Plug into a group of people who are willing to help carry your burdens, and carry some of their’s as well.

Bittersweet

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6‭-‬8

So many mornings during my prayer time, I pray this verse. And while doing so the gravity of it smacks me Leroy Jethro Gibbs style in the back of the head. If you are searching for what that means you can watch any NCIS episode and see him (Mark Harmon) doing this to any one of his subordinates. And he does not do it as a lack of respect but rather as he explains it; as a wake-up call. God does this a lot in our lives ( at least He does in mine), gives us wake up calls I mean.

But I digress. While it is so awesome for us that Jesus took our place by taking the punishment that we so fully deserve; there is still another side to this. It is so humbling, even saddening to know that my Savoir and King had to be beaten and scourged and hung on a tree because of my rebellion against my Father. Jesus suffered because I sinned. This rocks my world! Constantly!

Think about it, every lash of the whip, the insulting slaps in the face, the pricking of the crown of thorns, the mocking, the carrying of the cross, the nails, the insults the were hurled at him while hanging on the cross. All the way to the blade piercing his side were all because of our sins. More personally my sins.

The cross is so beautiful but at times it breaks me! So I just wanted to share this thought with you.

Commitment

I need to try and be more aware of the gravity of my sins and what they cost. How about you?

Questions

1) When you read the living word of God, do you use it in your prayer life or how about in you life?

2) Are there pieces of Scripture that break you, what are you going to do about that?

Cited

NCIS, 2003, Belisarius Productions, CBS

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, 2003, Belisarius Productions, CBS