Monday, February 06, 2006

Deep, Dark, Depressed

Intro.: It was in September 2000 that I first began to feel a numbness in my left foot.

  1. I went to the doctor and he scheduled an MRI for the following Tuesday. But before I could make that appointment, my other leg started to go numb. The MRI was rescheduled for the Saturday instead, and thus began a five year journey with what was later diagnosed as MS.

  2. It was a tough year. Earlier that year I had begun to explore my return to ministry – but now all the uncertainty about my future, threw that into doubt.

  3. I read stories where people went from diagnosis to invalid in a matter of months. It was scary and uncertain. There were no promises – and I entered some of the darkest days of my life.

  4. It would be a year before I would again explore the ministry

  5. I wish I knew what I am going to share today, then.

  6. – at the time it was a disappointment. But if you think through the timing, I would not be here today if all the pieces had come together a year earlier.

Read: Psalm 142:1-7
Trans: Pray as I preach.

  1. I spent time this week re-listening to some of the messages preached at the Congress on Evangelism held in Atlanta in 2005.

  2. One of the preachers made the point that if I have the church praying for me while I preach, the poorest sermon that I might preach will be more powerful than the greatest sermon I might preach without prayer.

  3. Join me in delivering the morning message, not by preaching, but praying for me as I present it.

T.S. I want to look at what depression looks like and then spend some time looking at how one man responded to it.

  1. What does depression look like?

    1. In one of my first sermons, I quoted one my favorite authors, Dr. Scott Peck. Dr. Peck started his most famous book, The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.”

    2. Though Dr. Peck only became a believer later in his life, there are many Christians who can attest to the truthfulness of his affirmation as they have struggled with depression.

    3. In some ways, one might think that depression is a 20th century malady – but I am not so certain that is entirely true.

    4. There are a number of examples – but probably one of the most well known individuals found in the scriptures that demonstrated depression dates from 1000 BC. David had grown up as a shepherd, the son of a shepherd. Nobody thought much of him, even his dad ignored him when Samuel tried to gather Eliab and his sons. Not only his dad, but King Saul sought to kill David, even after he saved the Israelites from the Philistines after killing Goliath.

    5. Turn with me to Psalm 142 to see what one man's view of depression was.

      1. David was sad (v. 1). He directed his tears to the Lord, but he was sad. If there is any one characteristic of depression it is an overwhelming of sadness.

      2. David felt tired (v. 3). Not every yawn is the result of depression.

(Ill.) A Lieutenant in World War II got so tired he went to sleep while talking on a field telephone—not when he was listening, but in the middle of his sentence! A professor told a class he once got so tired he nodded off while he lectured. Dozing is not uncommon in American courtrooms, among judges, attorneys, lawyers, bailiffs, court clerks, jurors, and clients! Often without windows, poorly lighted and deprived of necessary oxygen, the courtrooms offer tired, tense, and sometimes bored participants an irresistible invitation to nod. A court clerk was surprised to find the judge furiously scribbling on notepads during closing arguments. She laughed later when she looked at the message: “Don’t go to sleep, don’t go to sleep! Don’t go to sleep, do NOT go to sleep!”i

But one of the symptoms of depression is unexplained exhaustion.

    1. David felt lonely and isolated. (v. 4) There is a significance difference between being alone and being lonely. There are times when I want to be alone. Most of you have heard me talk about taking a “Floyd Day”. The last one I took me to a corner of a bookstore, away from other people. I took two books – my Bible and my current reading book. I was alone, but I was not lonely. Yet for the person who is depressed, being in a 10000 seat auditorium filled to capacity, will not remove the feeling of loneliness.

  1. David responds to his depression.

    1. David Jeremiah suggests that David responded to his depression in four ways.ii

    2. David begins by verbalizing his problems

      1. David begins with God – have you ever wondered why we need to tell God our problems, I mean he knows everything already. All I can say is this – we tell God our problems because he has commanded us to do so. Three times David says he will call out to God.

      2. But sometimes we need more. A friend, a pastor, a counselor all can be part of the solution of moving through our down times.

    3. David recognized God's presence.

      1. David traveled a lot of places to be safe from the wrath of King Saul. But he never found a road, he never found a cave, that God was not there to meet him.

      2. Dr. Jeremiah points out that in the same way Jonah could never charter a boat capable of cruising outside the Lord's jurisdiction.

    (Ill.) Peter Marshall once wrote “At times when we feel forsaken, may we know the presence of the Holy Spirit who brings comfort to all human hearts when we are willing to surrender ourselves. May we be convinced that even before we reach up to Thee, Thou art reaching down to us.”iii

    1. God was there, but David also placed himself before God.

      1. Look at verse 5 - I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”iv

      2. God was there, but David placed himself before God.

      3. I cannot escape God, but I can ignore Him. David didn't – neither should we.

(Ill.) Let illustrate it this way – in our cars are seat belts, since the early 70's American cares have been required to have seat belts. They are there. But too many people choose to ignore them, though they have been proven to save more lives than is possible without wearing them. Just as we should not ignore our seat belts, we ought not to ignore God – even the midst of the dark times of our lives.

    1. David continued to praise God

      1. If you look at the very beginning of Psalm 142, you will see that it was written by David while in a cave. It was not the only Psalm written by David while he was trying to survive King Saul's hatred. Turn to Psalm 57 for just a minute.

      2. The first four verses echo his depression, look at verse 5: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” And then look at verses 7-11:

        My heart is steadfast, O God,
        my heart is steadfast;
        I will sing and make music.
        Awake, my soul!
        Awake, harp and lyre!
        I will awaken the dawn.
        I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
        I will sing of you among the peoples.
        For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
        your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
        Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
        let your glory be over all the earth.

      3. Even while trapped in a cave, David was able to praise God.

Conclusion: Dark times come. Choose now to move through them.

iHurley, V. (2000, c1995). Speaker's sourcebook of new illustrations (electronic ed.) (Page 220). Dallas: Word Publishers.

iiJeremiah, D. (2000). A bend in the road (Page 186). Nashville, Tenn.: Word Pub.

iiiJeremiah, D. (2000). A bend in the road (Page 189). Nashville, Tenn.: Word Pub.

ivThe Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Ps 142:5). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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