We all know that men are the worst in confiding in each other about challenges in life. I have known men that would rather go down with the ship, than ask for help in a failing marriage. There are men out there in jobs that are being shut-down, re-assigned, and laid off. There are men out there that have walls built between their spouses and them, and thus are careening towards divorce. Addictions are at an all time high, and vices abound. Many of us know that these things exist around us, because we watch tv, talk to friends and family, and experience it in our own personal lives. However, the silent killer is Depression.
A couple of weeks ago I knew a man who committed suicide. I struggled for a few days wondering if there was something I could have said to help him out if I had only known. As men, and even further as Christian men, we are not apt to discuss whether or not we are struggling with an issue. I am not here today to discuss whether or not somebody should be on an anti-depressant, or any other medical treatment. I am however going to discuss what the Bible has to say about Anxiety and Depression, as this is not a respecter of persons (no matter your religious belief, sex, race, age, etc.)
We can read the Bible and see several men who struggled with Anxiety and/or Depression. A few that come to mind are the prophet Elijah after his mountain top experience found in I Kings, he quickly had a major valley experience. Also King David is also known for this, as the Psalms are chock full of passages where he is lamenting to God and crying out in dry and desolate times when he feels abandoned and all alone. Here are a few scriptures that have ministered to me during this time, as I also struggle with Anxiety & Depression from time to time.
Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Psalm 23:4 ESV /
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 34:17-18 ESV /
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 40:1-3 ESV /
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Proverbs 12:25 ESV /
“Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
Isaiah 41:10 ESV /
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV /
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Matthew 6:27 ESV /
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Matthew 11:28 ESV /
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV /
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV /
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
1 Peter 5:7 ESV /
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
I know that this is a lot of scripture passages, but they have encouraged and challenged me during this time of unrest. I have sensed that there is a spirit of unrest that is settled over the entire globe. This is not just because of the elections in the US in November, or civil unrest at home. The world over has experienced COVID-19 and its effects. I am not here to debate whether or not face masks work or not, or if this whole thing is a conspiracy. As one who does addiction recovery ministry, I can tell you that no matter what your opinions are on the virus, the cause and effect of it is devastating. Addictions and overdoses are on the rise, addictions to pornography have risen, divorces around the world have skyrocketed, thoughts of suicide and following through with those thoughts has escalated, etc. I believe that we are in a spiritual battle, as satan is wreaking havoc and creating a last stand.
What is the solution? Funny you should ask! I truly do feel that turning to God in the good and bad is absolutely essential. We do not want to just cry out to God when we need Him, and as soon as things alleviate and resolve, we shove Him off to the side, and with our actions show that we don't need Him any longer. No, the answer is a steady and consistent relationship with Him. This is not to discount things that I mentioned before. If you feel that you need an anti-depressant, that is between you and your doctor. I do challenge you to make sure that you aren't putting a band aid on the situation and kicking the can down the road. We all need to deal with our underlying issues. Communication, Exercise, and Meditation are essential.
Communication with others about how we are feeling. I am not a psychologist (although there is a place for these), nor do I need to be. I know how to bend an ear to a friend in need, and have those who do to me as well. It is important that we communicate effectively with our parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Find another person that you can confide in, and just talk.
Exercise is also very crucial to overcoming Anxiety and/or Depression. I try to go to the gym and lift weights several times a week, and I walk the dogs daily with my wife in our neighborhood. It is important to not fall into the rut of just becoming a couch potato and sleeping all the time. GET UP AND MOVE!!!
I say Meditation, as we in church circles tend to throw out "quite time" or "devotions" more often. Joshua 1:8 tells us to "Meditate on His Word day and night." I NEED to have my opportunities daily to be still and know that He is God. That might come through a drive through the country, sitting down and reading my Bible, closing my eyes and just focusing on God, or through prayer.
Now that I have gone through how I overcome Anxiety & Depression, I wanted to share with you a couple of Bible passages that show and point me to resolution in Him:
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV /“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
John 16:33 ESV /
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Romans 15:13 ESV /
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Check out this encouraging video below: