Overcome: Encountering God in the Midst of Depression
In my whole life, I’ve only heard two sermons on depression. One of them was at a recent Friday night service at Christ Church Knoxville. As my pastor Nathan spoke, I realized that there is real freedom from this dark mood. In this place of weakness that affects many lives, God delights to be strong. I realized that I can’t rescue myself, but God is a great deliverer. Psalm 32:7 says, “You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance.”
I can image a person curled up in a little ball weeping over a very real circumstances or pain, and then the Lord literally shouts their deliverance. As His voice begins to echo, truth shines its light, chains begin to fall off, and the person is freed from their dark frame of mind. This is who our God is—a delivering God.
This is not a far off concept to me. It was a real life changing moment when God shouted my deliverance. God healed me! And He continues to faithfully heal my broken emotions.
I was so comforted by Scripture that Friday night because I realized that I am not alone in this fight for my heart. Other people—Christian people— have struggled with depression.
Did you know that Moses- the chosen leader of Israel was so overwhelmed with people that he asked God to take his life? Do you remember Elijah- the great prophet of God? He was so tired, hungry, and overcome with his circumstances that he fell into a such a dark mood that he too asked God to kill him. And they weren’t the only ones. Jonah- another one of God’s prophets- was so angry about who the Lord is (gracious and compassionate) that he wanted to die. Other people like Job wished he had never been born, and Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth. You could go so far as to say these guys were in suicidal moods.
However, these men did not take their lives!
Instead they took their despair to God. As my pastor Nathan said, “They prayed to the Lord of life! And even in that dark, black place—the Lord encountered them!”
I want to look at one of these encounters today and be encouraged that God will meet us in the place of prayer too!
People were weeping at the door of Moses’ tent. With loud cries and many tears the people came to him and begged for meat to eat. They were looking to him—their leader– for answers. This large group of people was crying loudly– maybe even hysterically.
Moses was very displeased.
This wasn’t a matter of hunger. On their journey to the land that God had promised them, the Lord, in His grace and mercy had already miraculously provided food for the nation. The people were rebelling against God. One commentator Gaebelein says, “He(God) is near in grace, but they have turned their back on him. He is in their midst, and they wish he were not. He has come down, and they wish he would go away” (793). What the people were doing would essentially be like someone today saying, “Jesus, I wish you had not died for me. Go away. Leave me alone.”
With hardened hearts they cried. With rebellion they wept at Moses’ door. This burdened Moses’ heart.
At a very low moment– in desperation– Moses turned to the Lord in prayer. He poured out the questions of his heart. He asked God things like: Why am I the one burdened with these people? Haven’t I found favor in your sight? Did I give birth to them? Where am I to find meat for them?
Moses literally had a break down before the Lord.
He said, “I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.” Being distraught he continued, “If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” (Num 11:14-15)
In case you missed it– Moses just asked God to let him die. If that isn’t falling down the slope of depression I don’t know what is. But I can’t over emphasize the fact that even though Moses asked to die (bad), he did it before the Lord (good).
In the midst of depression, Moses went to God in prayer. My pastor Nathan said, “This is not easy for us to do- usually when we are in one of these black moods we do not feel like reading our Bibles (hearing the Lord speak to us), we don’t feel like praying. But it is just here that the Lord wants to meet us in our depression. He wants to meet us in the place of prayer.”
This part is amazing! The Lord encounters Moses.
In the midst of his brokenness, the Lord speaks. He tells Moses to go gather seventy leaders “And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone. (Num 11:17)
What I learned from Moses is that my life can never be a one man show. I can’t do it all by myself. The burdens of sin and rebellion are too heavy. The burden of people is too much for me. I need help just like Moses.
First, I need to cry out to the Lord. I desperately need God’s help. I must encounter the Lord in prayer. Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” God is offering me an invitation to freedom. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Second, I need the people of God. If Moses—a person who spoke with God face to face—needed help from the people of God, than so do I. As my pastor says, “God so often meets the needs of his people through his people.” Moses is a great example of this. Whenever I have gone to the people of God for prayer, the Lord has been faithful to encounter me. Hebrews 10:23-25 exhorts us to go when it says, ”Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
God heals broken emotions and provides a way out of this dark, black mood. Open your mouth and pour your heart out to the Lord. Go to church. Find godly people and have them pray for you and speak God’s word over your life. He will encounter you! He will help you overcome when you are overcome.