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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sanctification Saturday (7/9) - Dealing with Depression

I have a relative (who shall remain nameless…) who at one time had the habit of ignoring the warning lights on the dashboard of his vehicle.  When the "check engine" light came on, he assumed the light was malfunctioning, not the corresponding system under the hood.  As you might imagine, eventually he found out that the warning light was working just fine.  The revelation came in the form of the distinct sound of a rod knocking in the motor.   
Of course, I’m not going to cast stones.  While I don’t assume that the warning lights on my car are malfunctioning or playing a practical joke on me, I do on occasion tell myself that given enough time, perhaps the problem will “work itself out.” 
“The car just needs rest.” 
“The light just came on.  I’ve got a while before I need to worry about it.” 
“Oh, that light came on before and went out by itself.  I’ll just watch it for a few days to see if it does that again.” 
“The brakes aren’t even grinding yet.  The light is overreacting.” 
The motive for this kind of rationalization should be obvious.  I don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of spending the time and money to have the car checked out and fixed.  The problem is that ignoring the lights indefinitely will lead to much more costly trouble than if I had simply heeded the warning in a timely manner.
Humans are hardwired with a number of “warning lights,” and it is common for people to think of these warning lights as problems in themselves rather than indicators of some deeper issue.  Anxiety is an example of a typical warning light.  It can manifest itself in simple doubtful thoughts or in severe panic attacks.  Many times people with anxiety think that anxiety itself is their problem, so they go to a medical doctor or a mental health professional to get a pill to fix that problem.     
I certainly agree that there are legitimate medical issues that require such drugs.  I’m not anti-drug.  What concerns me is the rush to assume that our issues are medical without considering the possibility that the difficulty we are experiencing might be a warning light alerting us to a deeper problem.  That assumption can lead to the unnecessary medicating of an issue that is not medical at all.
At our next Sanctification Saturday on July 9, we are going to open the Word and see what it has to teach us about another warning light, depression.  Most of us have experienced depression ourselves or have a close loved one who has.  Sometimes depression can be the result of something as simple as illness or poor eating and sleeping habits.  But God’s Word tells us that there can be other, deeper reasons that our souls are “cast down” with us.  If our depression is warning us that there is a deeper issue at work, ignoring it or needlessly medicating it is similar to trying to disconnect an illuminated “check engine” light in the dashboard of our car.  We may not see the light on anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the deeper problem has been fixed.  The root issue will only continue to deteriorate, leading to greater trouble later on.
Whatever that deeper issue is, there is hope and help in Christ.  Through our knowledge of Him, God has granted us everything necessary to be saved and sanctified.  If you are dealing with depression or have a loved one who is, please make every effort to be here on July 9, 8:30a-12p.  We will be discussing how to determine the root issue and what provisions God has made for dealing with those issues. 
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2Tim 3:16-17

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