“WISDOM OF LIVING (59) DEPRESSION”         By Pastor YAU

Text: Exodus 6:1-12                                                  March 16, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    A scientific conclusion: Scientists in the UK have calculated that the most depressing day of the year comes in the third week of January, to be more precise, the third Tuesday of January. Winter days are dark and cold, holiday excitement has worn off just as Christmas debts are coming due and New Year’s resolutions have all been broken. The celebration, the gift-giving, the good wishes and good intentions that once made us feel happy now press us down and leave us feeling hopeless and helpless. With all the negative elements of life, the scientists concluded that depression is inevitable.

2)    A practical conclusion: Thousands of years ago, the Hebrews had high hope that Moses would rescue them from slavery when God sent him to pronounce His intention. (Exodus 4:29-31) But their hopes were crushed by Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and their life had become much worse. Instead of gaining freedom, the people were pressed even harder by slave masters who demanded that they produced the same amount of bricks with fewer supplies. Moses cried out to the Lord, “Why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you have sent me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he had done evil to this people; you have not delivered your people at all.” (5:22-23)When God asked Moses to speak to Pharaoh again, Moses reminded God in such a depressing tone, “If the Israelis will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me.” (6:12)With the hopeless situation, Moses concluded that there was nothing God can do.

 

GETTING TO KNOW DEPRESSION:

1)      Depression: its definition: According to Encyclopedic Dictionary, “depression” means: lowering in vigor, value or quality; sinking in spirit. The root is from “depress” which means: to push or pull down, to bring low or humble, dispirit or deject or bad situation.

2)      Depression: Its symptoms: According to Medical Dictionary from WebMD, “depression” is: 1, reduction of the level of functioning; 2, displacement of a part downward or inward; and 3, a mental state or chronic mental disorder characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness and loneliness, despair, low self-esteem, self-reproach and dejection. Sleepless night, loss of appetite and loss of interest to live are just a few obvious signs of depression. 

3)      Depression: Its causes: Besides medical conditions that caused people to be depressed, such as chronic mental disorder, chemical imbalance many people become depressed because of unfavorable life condition, pressure of life and helpless situation they face. Just look at the 2 scenarios in the introduction, people were depressed in early February and Moses who faced a downward spiral in the mission God called him to do. When life environment presses in and we can see no way out, many of us will feel depressed.

4)      Depression: Its victims: Many of us, as well as people in Bible time, face life conditions that may lead to depression. But that doesn’t mean all possible victims will become depressed. We see this in real life to day and examples in the Bible. While difficult life experience is universal, cases of depression is not. Not all who live their life under insurmountable problems will become victims of depression. It is a case by case situation. We will explore these phenomena from the Bible in the next part of this message.

 

DEPRESSION IN THE BIBLE: You may be surprised that the Bible did record cases of people who went through extraordinary life experiences and had become depressed or very depressed. You will also see people who went through similar life experiences but came out victorious, not depressed at all. As we study these cases, we may come up with some practical remedies that may help us to handle difficult life experience.

1)   Moses was depressed: In the second year of leading the Israelis out of Egypt, Moses faced some no-win situation and the rebellion of the people. In the midst of all the problems, Moses brought his problems to God. He was totally depressed and had completely given up the hope in God and the people. “Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance of his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry and Moses was troubled. ‘Why have you brought these trouble on your servant’, said Moses. ‘What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?’ . . . . ‘I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If I have found mercy in your eyes, kill me now, do not let me see my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:10-11, 14-15, KJV and NIV)I am sure no one would like to face that situation as Moses did. Great people could be depressed too.

2)   Job was depressed: After he had lost all his children and properties, got painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head and the scolding of his wife urging him to curse God and die, Job did most people will do. “Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said, ‘May the day of my birth perish and the night it was said ‘a boy is born.’ That day, may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it, may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more, may a cloud settle over it, may blackness overwhelm its light.” (Job 1:13-3:5)I think we all can understand why Job was so depressed that he wished he had never been born.

3)   Elijah was depressed: Right after he had won a great victory over the false prophets of Jezebel on Mt. Carmel to prove that Jehovah was the only true God, Elijah was frightened by the threat of Jezebel to take his life. He fled for his life from Mt. Carmel all the way to the desert. Under a broom tree Elijah prayed to God. He said, “I have enough. Take my life. I am not better than my ancestors.” ( 1 Kings 18:20-19:2)Then he ran again to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. Again, he complained to God that was the lone ranger of God when all other prophets were killed by Jezebel and she was pursuing his life. While Elijah was honored as a hero of Israel, he was so depressed to ask God to let him die.

4)   Habakkuk was a victor: After years of oppression and destruction in the land of Judea by the invading Babylonians and the cruelty the Israelis and their land had suffered, Prophet Habakkuk stood his ground on his faith in the almighty God. He said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feel like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on high ground. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)Difficult times may not get you down or depressed if you know where to get strength.

5)      Paul was a victor: Not many of us live a life as pressured and even hopeless as the life of Paul, especially during his decades of missionary endeavor. With uncommon faith and commitment on the mission God called him to do, Paul repeatedly faced many setbacks, betrayal, persecution, danger and helpless situation, (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)Paul did not surrender to the environment to become depressed. His secret? Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” It is the power of God which lived in him that sustained him to go through all kinds of circumstances without becoming depressed.

6)      More victors: James, the brother of Jesus, encouraged the early Christians to stand firm in time of trials and difficulties. James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1:2-4) Then he said, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”(1:12)History of Christian Church has countless accounts that many survived the test of faith and became victors instead of victims.

 

SUPER CURE OF DEPRESSION: (Exodus 6:1-12) We need to know. . .

1)   God has a plan: When we read chapter 5 of Exodus, the only thing we see is how the situation of the Israelis went from bad to worse after Moses went to tell Pharaoh what God wanted him to say: let me people go. We don’t blame Moses when he complained that God had brought more trouble for the people and had done nothing to deliver them. (5:23)But God has a plan. Read 6:1, “Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” What will God do with His mighty hand? He will send enough plaques to punish Pharaoh so he will allow the Israelis to leave. In fact, he begged them to leave and sent them away with many treasures. ((Exodus 12:31-36)

2)   God has a name: To know God by his name was a desire of Moses when he was called to deliver the Israelis out of Egypt. (Ex. 3:13-14)God gave Moses not his name but his nature: “I AM WHO I AM.” It means “I am self exist and everlasting.” Here in the text, God repeated his name, Yahweh or Jehovah or LORD, 5 times. This name appears over 6,000 times in the Old Testament alone. Besides its nature of self existence, YHWH carries the idea of LORD of all: all things, all people, all events and all powers. God knows what is happening and He knows what to do, he is in control of all. Names are for identity purpose. Although God didn’t need any identity, He told Moses His name 5 times to remind him He was in control.

3)   God is their God: Here in 6:7, God told Moses His desire to be their God and they His people---a covenant relationship throughout the Bible. God wants to be God for the Israelis and He wants the Israelis be His people. No any other god of any religion has such a relationship with those who worship it. This covenant relationship is the basis of God’s loving care, protection, guidance, riches and blessing. All that God is and has are inheritance of His people. He is much more than just a distant deity with super power. This is the God who loves His people like a Father to His children. This close relationship sustains all our needs and supplies all our strength to go through all kinds of difficult times.

4)   God made a promise: In this text, God repeatedly reminded Moses His promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (6:2-5, 8)God will never forget His promises made to the patriarchs nor will He forget those promises made to the Israelis, His people. Whatever God said He will do, He has never failed in the past and He will not fail in the future.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   This is a depressed world: Just look around our city, we can easily see many reasons why people got depressed. (News reported a gun shot incident at Mitchell High School today, Feb. 11) Look at the chaos in the political arena, the deteriorating economy, the rebellious young people, the breaking down of families, the anti-everything phenomena and many other depressing conditions. No wonder Jesus told His disciples that “In this world, you will have trouble (suffering).” (John 16:33)

2)   There is a cure: Preceding the warning of trouble in this world, Jesus gave His disciples a guarantee of peace, not depression. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.” (6:33)We can’t run away from this world and all her troubles. But we can run to Jesus and hide ourselves in Him for protection and care. King David gave many testimonies of his experience that the Lord is his shelter, his rock his fortress and his salvation. In God he has no fear of evil. (Psalm 23:4)

3)   Get protection: Insurance sales agents will tell us buying insurance policies will provide protection when “things” happen. The truth is that insurance cannot protect us or stop things from happening. It provides financial support when things do happen. God provides more than monetary protection when things happen. He provides us with peace, hope and strength when we face adversities. In Him we shall not be moved.