Depression is a real and present danger, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are those who are shut in, others who have gotten sick and lost loved ones, some who have lost their jobs and businesses, so many changes that have brought an unusual amount of stress upon us all.
Recently, I have talked to several preachers that are battling depression. Elijah, the prophet, had a tremendous battle with depression that lasted many days (1 Kings 19). James reminds us that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). Perhaps, we forget that we are all just human.
Psalm 73 is a wisdom psalm. The psalmist struggled to understand why the wicked prosper, and he was envious of them (vv. 2-3). They were saying that God didn’t even take knowledge of him; that He didn’t care about him (v. 11). His efforts to live a pure life seemed futile because all the while he himself was suffering (vv. 13-14). It was not until he finally sought God for answers that he came to understand the fearful destiny of the wicked in complete destruction (vv. 17-19). With a convicted and penitent heart, he then realized that he should never have complained and questioned God (vv. 21-22). He knew that God had always been there for him and would ultimately bring him to glory (vv. 23-24).
It is here that the psalmist exclaimed: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (vv. 25-26).
Let’s celebrate being a father. Don’t run from it. Don’t deny it. Don’t give up on it. Don’t do it half-way. Don’t forget it. Don’t take it for granted. Be a father. Work at it. Pray about it. Learn from it. Grow in it. Rejoice in it. Laugh at it. Cry over it. Praise God for it. Hear God on it.
Genesis 18:19 “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”
Exodus 34:6-7 “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation.”
God, our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. We lift Your name above all others and seek only Your glory. We praise You for Your daily blessings, Your care and watch over us all. We thank You for the salvation and hope that is found in Your Son Jesus Christ, for Your tremendous love for us in sending Him and for the sacrifice He made for us. We are also grateful that You have brought us all together, those of us from every race or nationality, from every place and language, from many different backgrounds, to make us one in the body of Christ, Your church, bound by a common faith and love for the Lord Jesus.
These days are especially troubling. It is stressful, frightening, and difficult. In such times we often react out of fear, anger, and frustration. Some do a lot of finger pointing and complaining. Others exploit such times to promote their own agenda or for their own profit, wreaking havoc, violence and destruction. These things lead to division, fighting and much harm. According to James 3:13-18, wisdom teaches us differently.
Wisdom is seen in how we conduct ourselves (vv. 13-14). It calls for good behavior characterized by meekness. Meekness is not weakness but acting with gentleness and self-control. It calls for humility. Selfish envy and pride are contrary to the truth. Wisdom is more than words. It is who we are and how we live our lives.
God’s word is meant to be experienced. Read, pray, sing, study, memorize, meditate upon and live the words of God. Try this with Psalms 131.
Experience humility. David was a shepherd boy when God called him to be king of Israel. It would be many years before he would sit on the throne, but he was perfectly content. He set pride aside and went through the experience of humility. When the time was right, he gladly served as a man after God’s own heart.
Of the seven things God hates that are listed in Proverbs 6:16-19, the first on the list is “a proud look”. Like David, we must first humble ourselves. Jesus taught His apostles to humble themselves as a little child to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-4). He set the example for His apostles when at the last Passover with them he washed their feet (John 13). The apostle Paul warned every person “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). Peter wrote: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
1 Peter 2:9-10 "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy."
Peter uses several descriptive phrases to remind us who we are and why we are here. The same expressions were applied to Israel in the Old Testament. The church of Christ which consists of both Jews and Gentiles is the true Israel of God (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:26-29; 6:16).
Ben’s wife, Stacie, had a terrible accident while riding her horse causing severe trauma to her brain and leaving her in a coma from which she never recovered. Ben was unable to visit her until just after her surgery and only for a short time. Ben posted an update on Facebook for family and friends. “She’s a fighter, and through God’s power and might she will wake up, if it is God’s will.”
In the morning, Ben was very appreciative of “everyone’s kind words and prayers”. That night there was little change in Stacie’s condition, but Ben wrote, “Thank you for all of the supportive texts and posts! We are so blessed to have so many people praying on our behalf. Philippians 4:6 is helping me get through these times. Please be patient and continue to pray for our dear Stacie.”
Doctors, hospitals and medicines can be helpful, even lifesaving, when we are ill or don’t feel well but I am afraid that many rely too heavily on such for their good health. Good health requires a good diet, good exercise and a good lifestyle. When these things are neglected we are more apt to encounter bad health and will have a hard time recovering. Changing bad health habits for good health habits can often restore our good health without the usual treatments. The usual treatments have been known to cause many bad side effects, sometimes worse than the problems they are meant to treat. More attention needs to be given to the maintaining of good health that we might not only prevent illness but also improve our health.
Is the coronavirus pandemic another of many signs heralding Christ’s coming at the end of the world? Not if you believe what Jesus said about His coming.
Jesus said that nobody, but the Father knows when He is coming (Matthew 24:36). If there will be signs of His coming, then anyone could know. Doesn’t that mean that if someone says there are signs that Christ is about to come that he doesn’t know what he is talking about?
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135