My heart is just torn over the recent news of a young pastor who recently took his own life. Based on what I had read, this young man battled with anxiety and depression for quite some time. From the old to the young, from the Hollywood elites to those who live in obscurity, unfortunately, suicide has become an epidemic in our world today.
When I heard the news of this suicide, my heart grieved a little bit more because not only was this man young, had a wife, and three little boys, but he was a pastor who happened to lead the church right next door to my church.
Every Sunday, as Eric and I pull out of our church’s parking, we pass Inland Hills Church (IHC). IHC is so close to my church you can throw a rock and hit it. Years ago I went to IHC to attend a woman’s seminar and luncheon. And before I got married, I worked at a company where my boss sat on the Board of IHC and one of my duties was to type up the Board meeting’s minutes.
Even though I never met the pastor and his family, the situation hit too close to home. Bottom line: a local brother who served Jesus and preached about Jesus was hurting so much that he took his own life.
I can’t help but think of the pressure he was under and the constant scrutiny- offline and online. From having to be business savvy to being a dynamic, rockstar preacher with celebrity-like status, to presenting a picture perfect life on Instagram and all the other social media channels. Not to mention meeting the demanding needs of those he serves in real life. Pastors of today face a criticism that is unheard of. In the age of technology, now you can go online and
complain and rant leave a Google or Yelp review of a church!
I don’t know suicide, I know depression. I have zero understanding of the immense pain of having a loved one take their own life. I am only familiar with the three different causes of depression, which is what I’m discussing today. Lord willing, this little blog post will offer hope to a hurting heart.
Three Different Causes of Depression
Your brain is an organ and sometimes it needs assistance. Just like a person with diabetes needs insulin or a woman who just gave birth may experience post-partum depression. The brain needs help but for some reason, there is a stigma of shame for a person who can’t mentally and emotionally cope with life. Yet conversely, there are many prescriptions drugs that can cause depression. One recent report showed the FDA issuing a statement…advising physicians and consumers about reports of “depression, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts due to an acne drug. Physiological depression is like a catch 22. Do you take the drug or not take the drug? Will it do more harm than good? Personally, I have only used natural medicine to get my brain back in balance.
Trials are hard and our world is dark. It doesn’t take much for a soul to become discouraged and then depressed. I wrote more on this type of depression here.
3. Spiritual oppression/spiritual warfare
A Christ-follower has an enemy who wants to destroy him. Satan will use whatever means possible to put you in a pit of depression. If you’re going through a season absence of peace, you’re filled with confusion, spiritual apathy has set in, or you’re consumed with fear, make a note of it. There is a high probability you’re dealing with spiritual warfare.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. John 10:10
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
After years of battling with all of the above, I have found depression to be quite common, yet not common enough for the Church to address this concern. If anything, I feel like they shy away from it. But if you look at scripture you’ll find many spiritual giants who faced this problem.
David was depressed and felt abandoned.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? Psalm 22:1
Elijah was depressed. After God showed off by performing a big miracle when He sent down fire in 1 Kings 18, Elijah, well, just lost his mind for a time. The Bible says that Elijah ran for his life when Jezebel threatened to kill him. He went a day’s journey in the wilderness and prayed to the Lord that he might die. 1 Kings 19
Jesus even had his moment of feeling forsaken by God when He cried out to the Lord before He went to the Cross for our sins.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46
Yes, you and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, but we’re not made of steel. God has given every human being emotions and feelings. These are indicators of what’s taken place within our hearts and minds. Our responsibility is to identify our needs, weaknesses, limitations, and temptations and then pray to God for help.
A person can only do so much to push through the pain. Sometimes we need healing for our physical bodies because we are out of balance. Other times we need the Body of Christ to carry us in our dark moments. But here’s the catch. The Body can’t help us if we’re unwilling to share our needs.
Instead of dulling our pain with substance abuse, retail therapy, emotional eating, or isolating ourselves, perhaps we should tell others we need help, we need a friend, we need prayer, and we need God to give us direction.
Things I do and don’t do to protect my spiritual and emotional well-being:
Of course, I read my Bible, the source of all comfort and truth. I spend time in prayer. I listen to worship and praise music and I attend church on a regular basis.
Because God has called me to speak spiritual truth into the online world, I have my comments turned off on my site because I’m protecting myself emotionally and spiritually. I don’t need naysayers, trolls, haters, and even Christians criticizing me for the work I do for Christ. There is no spiritual benefit to this.
I don’t follow people on social media that I feel will discourage me. I don’t need my flesh, nor Satan telling me I’m not measuring up.
I block people on my Facebook page as well as on my phone who attack or accuse me. I won’t put up with their toxicity for one second.
I share my pain and frustrations with other like-minded believers whom I trust- women who will pray for me and encourage me in the Lord. I have found this to be the hardest area of my life as a woman to cultivate. Having trusted friends and wise advisors are rare and hard to come by. But with some intentionality and prayer, God has provided a few faithful women who I can turn to in my time of need.
As an author, I don’t read reviews, I read my Bible. Reader reviews will either inflate me or defeat me. Neither one points to Jesus.
I take time to rest and rejuvenate but I try my darndest not to isolate myself.
I do my best to take every thought captive and to think on what is true.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
When depression shows up on my doorstep again, I ask myself what is the root of this depression? Is it physiological, circumstantial, or spiritual warfare? I’ve experienced all three separately and all three simultaneously. I’ve learned to pinpoint the problem and seek out the appropriate way to combat it. See if you can pinpoint your depression. Then pray and ask God to give you the guidance and help you need.
If you’re facing depression for whatever reason and you feel alone, reach out and talk with someone. I get countless emails from Christian women all around the world who face dark situations. Their letters express their pain, broken hearts, and discouraged souls. Sometimes they write to me because they need a friend. While I can’t answer each individual email that comes my way, I try to meet their needs as best as I can. But, my strong exhortation to you would be to find someone you can talk to in real life. I know it’s scary, which is why I’ve decided to share my story with you so you’ll have the courage to be brave!
Live a poured out life for Christ,