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!
Mayo Clinic website for depression