Depression and Your Social Life

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in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (eph 6:16

One of the most horrific features of depression is the corrosive effect it has on our [my] social life. Along with anxiety, depression can eat away friendships like the swarms of locusts ate away the egyptian agriculture (Exo 10:15). I do not think depression is necessarily sinful in and of itself (at least, not until I experience one of those knock-down-drag-out seasons of it). Depression, however, is a product of the sinful world we live in. It was necessary for Jesus to experience  depression and anxiety (Mark 14:34; Matt 26:38; Isa 53:3,4,12), but He did so without sin (Heb 2:18; 4:15). It was necessary for Him to suffer so that He could be the perfect mediator between God and Man (1 Tim 2:5). This is one of the reasons a distinction is necessary between sin and suffering.

Even though suffering is the “theological seminary”  God uses to sanctify and train us in our obedience (my major is depression [Heb 5:8-9]), Satan would enjoy turning it into a “theological cemetery”  (Job 1:11-12; 1 Peter 5:8-9). My  depression in combination with my  sinful heart can (and will) make for easy prey for the devil’s schemes against God. Let it be known that we are still responsible for the sins that we commit. So even though we are victims, we are also culprits.

Because God created us in His image, everything we are and everything we do is directly relative to Him, and others. This is the reason scripture is so concerned with how we interact with one another (in both Old and New Testaments).

As I “listen”  to my worst bouts of depression, most of the sound stems from issues I’ve had with other people. Whether  they’ve offended me, or I’ve offended them, my concerns fixate themselves on what the person is thinking and feeling. In my effort to “fix” my own problems, the paradigm shifts away from my duty to love/trust/fear  “the LORD who brought me out of the land of slavery” (Exo 20:2;Isa 61:1;Luk 4:18;Eph 4:8), toward a love/trust/fear of man (Prov 29:25; Jer 17:5; Isa 2:22; Psa 118:8; Isa 30:1). The love of God is powerful in that it teaches us how to love. Knowing the love of God in Christ Jesus is necessary to loving others (2 Cor 5:14). His love sets the correct  pattern.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  (1 John 4:10)
“We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Augustine makes this point beautifully;

But living a just and holy life requires one to……  love things… in the right order, so that you do not love what is not to be loved, or fail to love what is to be loved, or have a greater love for what should be loved less, or an equal love for things that should be loved less or more, or a lesser or greater love for things that should be loved equally. (On Christian Doctrine, I.27-28)

The biggest threat to love, according to Augustine is when “We fix our love on the creature, instead of on thee, the Creator” . This is why Augustine prayed that God would “Set love in order in me.”  (City of God, XV.22).

My depression often is the target of the fiery darts of satan, however I remain unconvinced that it is the result of the devil and his minions in its totality . Hooligans coming by and tagging buildings doesn’t  provide reason to believe that it belongs to them.

Depression can be a helpful indicator to idolatry, and it very well may be why God, in His Divine care and providence  has blessed me with it. Due to the perception of isolation (from both God and people) I’m  reminded of who I was made to be. No matter how small my social failures, their loud resonance within my heart impresses on me my primary need, which is The LORD.  God uses depression to strip me of the fig leaves I use to cover my failure and shame, and remind me of His Son. I get prideful, and in my pride I forget about the LORD (1 Sam 12:9; Jud 8:34; 2 Chron 26:16). When I make the mistake of the man named “YHWH is my strength” [Uzziah], God kindly reminds me of His name: “The LORD our Righteousness” and “Savior” (Jeremiah 23:6; Matt 1:21)

Earlier on, I indicated that I asked God to remove this melancholic tendency. I still ask God to remove it. Then I wait for Him to answer

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 
(Psa 22:1)

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? “ (Psa 13:1-2)

But God reminds me that my sin is the bigger problem (Love needs to be set in order!) .  It certainly doesn’t take away from the experience of  slipping down  into the slough of feeling unwanted, unimportant, self-anger, socially exhausted, untrusted, hopeless insignificant, empty, worthless, and some sort of combination of all of these things (Psa 73:2; Psa 94:18), but even so His “unfailing love, LORD, support[s] me”.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

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