Should we treat depression and anxiety as a sickness to be cured, or should we see it as a sign – to repent and return to God through His Son, Jesus Christ?
Of all the posts I’ve done on this site, this is the one that I’m most afraid of with regard to reactions and how I come across. Depression and anxiety are prevalent in today’s culture here in the states and I want to put a not-so-different perspective on why this may be. Because I’m doing this and going against accepted norms, even within the Christian culture, I’m sure to get some backlash, and I accept that. I am not making light of these conditions, nor am I belittling anyone suffering through this personal hell. So, with that, let’s begin.
In previous articles I’ve posted, I’ve touched upon depression & anxiety when it comes to demonic attacks, and I would encourage you to read them at your leisure, but for the sake of this post, I’ll skip past these tactics used by demons & the world system and discuss depression & anxiety from the standpoint of why they are a sign for a person to “stop and think” about the status you have with God. With that in mind, I’ll begin with passages from Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
While most Christians (and non-believers) might be familiar with the encounter and even the dialogue listed above, the last part is often overlooked and even omitted in most Bible translations with it being found in the King James Version (KJV) and the New King James Version (NKJV) respectively – the part being “…it is hard for you to kick against the goads (…pricks in the KJV).” It is unfortunate that this portion is left out as it brings into play a large reason for Saul’s conversion as Jesus is referencing an old Jewish proverb.
The meaning of the proverb
The Israelites were predominantly an agrarian-based people/economy, utilizing livestock for milk, cheese, and for the work. Large animals were used to help Jewish farmers plow the fields and one of the instruments used to complete these tasks were goads. Goads were large metal rods with pointed tips that were placed to the left and right of the animal to keep them going in a straight line. If the animal were to go too far over to one direction or the other, there would be pain until the beast righted itself and got back on track. The analogy of the goads was used on Paul as he was “going off track” with regard to God’s path, and that track was causing him great pain.
God can use pain to tell anyone that he/she is “not plowing a straight line,” or not on the right path.
Ok, but I’m not a beast, I’m depressed, so what’s the message here?
Each of us, both believer and non-believer go through life making choices. Each choice brings about its own set of consequences. No one can deny this as it is a law of life. Each of us can look back and remember painful choices and learn from them to make better choices in the future. I’m not talking about the momentary pain of consequences through minor bad choices, I’m talking about being down a wrong path and continuing down said path. The animals didn’t immediately right themselves upon the first prick of the goads, they continued to “kick against” them for a while, all the time feeling greater and greater pain.
While God did not put metal rods on us, He does allow us to plow our particular field our own way (free will) AND God allows us to feel the pain of our choices – that pain being depression and anxiety.
God intends us to feel the weight of those choices, and that weight, coming in the form of depression and anxiety, are meant for us to “right ourselves” in a direction back to God’s Will for our lives. The sad thing is that the norm of our culture is to mask the pain through pharmaceuticals and therapy, never fully coming to terms with why the pain is there and settling for a deflection and/or masking the pain itself in a fog of false bliss in the form of a pill. The culture of today has taken God out of the equation, not asking if we are on the wrong path to begin with, but instead filing down the points of the goads to take away the sharpness of the pain to a false sense of paradise based upon the new religion of pharmacology and psychology.
I firmly believe that depression & anxiety are meant as flashing signs warning us “you are not on the right path. Get right with God through Jesus Christ.”
Ok, that’s fine for non-believers, but I’m a Christian that’s depressed, so what’s up with that?
There are many Christians that believe in the back of their minds that God will take a “hands-off” approach to them being more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ – that God won’t let us suffer the same as a non-believer.
Those Christians would be sadly mistaken.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” ~2 Peter 2:20-22 NKJV
The plain and simple truth is this; God uses the same goads to keep us in line.
Now, to state again, I’m not talking about demonic attack, I’m talking about life choices that go against the Will of God and the consequences that go along with them.
Christians that step off the narrow path are not in danger of losing their salvation, but being off the path puts us back into the consequences of breaking the law. Yes, we are dead to the law through Jesus Christ, but we can step off of the path that we were set upon after our confession of faith (walking in the Spirit) and go right back to being a carnal individual (walking in the flesh), and, while in that carnal state, we are subject to the law.
While depression and anxiety are the subjects of this post, it’s important to note that believers, feeling the hard pain of the goads of life outside of God’s path, can feel the full measure of part or all of the curses of God found in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 (the 1-14 passages apply to Christians only) that non-believers feel every day.
Ok, so what’s the solution? How can I be rid of depression and anxiety?
Non-believers (the Jesus route):
If you feel led to come to God, then answer the call. Find a full-spirited Christian and ask him/her how I can make myself right with God through the healing power of Jesus Christ. Come to God and tell Him everything (trust me, He knows it all), because telling God aloud is part of it – nothing hidden. Ask for forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ, and after that is done, find a Christian, tell him/her what you did and ask for help on your new life.
Non-believers (the “no way to Jesus” route):
Enjoy a half-life of pain or dulled pain through pills and therapy, being relieved with an occasional oasis that will be ripped away soon.
Believers (the “repent” route)
Earnestly ask God for forgiveness. Get rid of everything and everyone that has helped to lead you down this bad path. Get back in the Word of God (Bible). Pray and Praise God every day. If it’s at a point where you have to quit everything, then quit everything!
Believers (the “no way to repentant” route):
Enjoy a half-life of pain or dulled pain through pills and therapy, being relieved with an occasional oasis that will be ripped away soon. Your life will be much worse as you have known what it was to have a blessed life (see the 2 Peter verse above.)