We trust you had a blessed day with family and friends this Memorial Day Holiday. Here is the next step in our review of the grief study.
This is another stage that has a fine line between initial emotions and being out of the will of God. We can become so entrenched in our despair that we never get out. After the intense emotions of shock and anger have worn off, depression and or loneliness will often set in.
When depression moves in, life loses its color and purpose. Getting out of bed is a struggle and appetite is either lost or, on the opposite end, over-indulged. Appearance may become neglected. The responsibilities of life, including caring for remaining family members, may be ignored or avoided.
Depression can be a physical issue, due to an imbalance of hormones. Great tragedies and shocks can result in a disruption of the brain chemicals that help control mood, not to mention extreme hormonal changes disrupting these chemicals as well. Medication may be necessary for a period of time, in order to correct this. Depending on the severity of the problem, a one to three year time period on prescription medication may help these chemicals and hormones regulate. There is no shame or sin in taking these medications.
A caution does need to be heeded, however. Medication should never be expressly used to numb and hide away from the pain that needs to be faced and addressed.
Medication is a tool for healing not the cure-all.
The Seven Stages of Grief:
Not only can depression take over one’s life, so can loneliness. Loneliness sets in, because no one else understands the pain we are experiencing. Our spouse often deals with grief in his own way. Many men become withdrawn, silent, or even angry when the loss is brought up.
A sense of bewilderment can come, as we wonder whom we can talk to without fear of either making people uncomfortable or receiving clichés and thoughtless comments about our pain. We may find it less exhausting and emotionally draining to not speak of our grief. However, the end result is a great feeling of being all alone in our pain.
A Biblical Response:
First, we need to discuss the difference between depression and discouragement. The Bible talks about how we do not grieve like the world does, so we need to discuss this distinction.
1. Severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.
2. A condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life.
Synonyms: dejection, hollow
The feeling of despair in the face of obstacles.
Synonyms: caution, hindrance, opposition
Discouragement slows you down for a little while. Depression stops everything for a long time. We need to continue following God in our daily walk – as a wife, mother, employee, or any other role He has asked us to maintain. We sin when discouragement takes over our lives and becomes willful depression. Pride also plays a role in this, as we often refuse to get help. We do not want others to think badly of us or, sometimes, we just want the attention that depression can bring us.
The Bible is full of discouragement.
I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. Psalm 6:6
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” Psalm 42:3
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13
Look at the fact that even though David was completely dismayed at the circumstances that he found himself in, he ended Psalm 13 by reminding himself of the absolute truth about God. He was able to find joy and blessing in the midst of fear and discouragement.
Now, look at II Samuel 12. First is his response to the prophet’s news that because of his sin, his firstborn son would die. Then, notice his response after he gets news that his son had passed away.
He did not waste his grief for a moment.
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. II Samuel 12:15-17
And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” II Samuel 12:19-23
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. I Kings 19: 4-8
Like anger, the initial emotion of discouragement is not a sin. We can, however, sin in our depression. We sin when we allow self-pity to consume us, when our depression causes us to remain in such bondage that we no longer enter life or live in the role God has called us to live in.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
Depression is a battle that must be fought and it is not an easy battle. Some days, it feels as if it would be easier to give in to it. But we must not. Giving in does not bring glory to God. Living life as God intended, despite the difficulties of it, brings glory to God.
Practical suggestions for fighting depression daily:
- Sleep (Refer to previous story of Elijah)
- Eat correctly. Healthy, nourishing foods are key, not a dependence upon foods such as sugar and caffeine to take us from one food “high” to the next. When we eat to care for God’s temple with healthy foods, we also have an added benefit of our brains being nourished, which then helps regulate the chemicals that control depression.
- Maintain a normal routine. Get up at a certain time each day. Go to bed a regular time each night.
- Exercise. Even a 1-2 mile walk, at a slower pace will help release endorphins to flood our brains, helps relieve depression and negativity.
- Focus on the truth of God’s Word, not the emotion of depression. The more we focus on how depressed we feel, the further into it we plummet.