“Now if someone has been a cause of pain, it is not I whom he has pained, but, in some measure – I don’t want to overstate it – all of you. For such a person the punishment already imposed on him by the majority is sufficient, so that now you should do the opposite – forgive him, encourage him, comfort him. Otherwise such a person might be swallowed up in overwhelming depression. So I urge you to show that you really do love him” (2 Corinthians 2:5-7).
Have you ever known someone who has struggled with ‘overwhelming depression?’ Have you ever considered it was caused a lack of forgiveness, encouragement, and comfort from others, from themselves?
The person who lives with ‘overwhelming depression’ lives with pain whether it is self-inflicted or from someone else. Many try to mask that pain with alcohol, sex, and illegal drugs. Many who suffer turn to legal drugs or pharmaceuticals. They rely on medication because they are told their depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in their body. Of course, medical science can prove this is true, but from where did that chemical imbalance originate? What is the root of the depression?
“A More Excellent Way” written by Henry Wright delves into the spiritual roots of disease using a Scripture along with his medical background. He suggests that in order to be healthy ‘mind, body, and soul,’ each of us needs to be in right relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.
Forgiveness begins with the relationship between an individual and God. Through Yeshua’s blood, forgiveness of sin is allotted to each of us as individuals. Forgiveness for and from others is also important. Yeshua taught that we must forgive others in order to receive forgiveness from Adonai. He says we are to forgive a brother or sister 7 times 70 or until forgiveness brings healing in the relationship (Matthew 18:22). Forgiveness of oneself is the most difficult. Loving ourselves includes forgiving ourselves in spite of Satan reminding us of our fallen nature and judging us with words like, “You’re not good enough to be forgiven.”
Recently I read an article about a young woman in the Netherlands who was euthanized because she could no longer ‘live with herself.’ She had been sexually abused as a child and then raped twice as a young adult. By 17, she felt she could no longer live and that death was the only way out of her pain. In the Netherlands it is legal for anyone over 12 to commit suicide so doctors agreed with her decision. Her mother also felt that because her daughter struggled with anorexia and nearly died, she should be allowed to die.
The Netherlands has placed the God of the Bible and Yeshua behind glass like in a museum as something ‘cute’ from the past. This woman died because of pain – pain that Yeshua took upon himself so she could be healed body, soul and spirit. Instead, she allowed the ‘father of lies’ to speak death into her mind and she is lost for all eternity.
Each of us can embrace disease like it is our identity. When that begins to happen we need to be reminded to see ourselves as God sees us – whole and healed. Our identity should never be in the pain, the depression, or the disease, but in Yeshua who set us free from the root of everything that causes the pain, depression and disease.
I knew a woman who asked God to put the sins of her husband on her so he could be saved. God answered this woman’s prayer and gave her a very rare cancer. Consequently, she embraced her disease as part of carrying her husband’s sin burden! When she told me what she had done, I told her to immediately repent because we, mere jars of clay, are incapable of taking on our own sin let alone those of someone else. Her cancer did not go away, but she lived years longer than expected, and passed because of an event that had nothing to do with the cancer.
Awhile back I was part of a group praying for someone who was ill. Different people asked God to put the person’s burden of the illness on them! We can carry the burdens of the one who is ill by taking care of them, encouraging them, ministering to their spiritual needs, but we were not created to carry the illness or diseases of anyone. That is the purpose for Yeshua’s death (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Job was afflicted with horrible sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. He scratched himself with a piece of pottery and sat in ashes. He never blamed God for what was happening to him. He never ‘cursed God and died’ as his wife suggested. Though there was great discourse between Job and his friends, his righteousness before God had been tested only because the Adversary challenged it. In the end, Job learned about God’s Sovereignty and his life was restored with greater blessings. In all of his struggles, Job never embraced his afflictions as his identity and never consoled his pain by thinking he suddenly had some inspiration as to how he was going to die!
One of the names or characteristics of Adonai is the El Rafa or God, The Healer. Why does anyone believes the Healer would inflict illness on His people. Perhaps the only reason a person has a some disease is because it’s the only way to send a faithful servant into a place where a doctor or nurse needs to hear the message of repentance and the Kingdom. God does not give us diseases to teach us a lesson or show us the way we are going to die. Perhaps disease and working through the pain of disease may be God’s way of transforming us into the image of His Son through suffering, but the disease is still not our identity.
Henry Wright suggests that ‘overwhelming depression’ is a spiritual battle caused by a conflict between the spirit and the soul. When we are diagnosed with an illness like ‘overwhelming depression,’ we need to stop and look at what is happening in our spiritual lives and how it’s affecting our souls. The famous hymn says, “It Is Well With My Soul,” but is it? Is there an emotional conflict between what you know is true in your spiritual man and what your soul is telling you?
“We have God’s power for demolishing strongholds. We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I have known three people who have taken their lives. The first was a man with whom I worked for several years. I lost touch with him only to reconnect several months before he made that fateful decision. Those who lived near him heard him fighting with ‘someone’ the night he died though he lived alone. He was very much into different spiritual entities. What battle was raging between his spirit and his soul?
The second was a woman who claimed to follow Christ. She never had any outward sign of depression though after she took her life, it was revealed she struggled with depression for many years. Why did she succumb to the lies of the evil one? Was there no one ministering to her the power of God over the enemy’s lies? What were her last moments like? Did her spirit and soul battle?
The third was a young man I had known since he was born. As I tried to understand the reasons for his decision, I could not fathom making his reason to ‘end it all.’ He had a wife and two very young sons. Yet, he also believed the lies of the evil one who came to steal, kill, and destroy his life and his family. From the evidence surrounding his death, there was an obvious spiritual conflict going on between his spirit and his soul.
The most famous Biblical suicide was Judas. Once he betrayed Yeshua, he went to the authorities and said, “I sinned in betraying an innocent man to death.” He, too, had a struggle between his soul and his spirit. The leaders didn’t care that he had a conscience so he hurled the pieces of silver into the sanctuary of the Temple and went out and hung himself (Matthew 27:1-10).
With each of those that I knew who took their lives, much discussion ensues about eternity. Some believe the person loses eternal life; others believe they never had it. Still others say, ‘once saved, always saved’ or believe that just because the person left loved ones, they receive a special reserved place in heaven. Though each person has their reason for their viewpoint, they never really talk about the consequences of the ‘murder of self.’ I had no real opinion so I put it in the category of God knows the destiny of the one who commits suicide since it’s not definitively laid out in Scripture.
When I was in Israel I asked a man who claimed to be a cohen how Judaism viewed suicide. He explained the Scriptures clearly state that we will each stand before God and give an account of our lives. In Judaism, it is believed that the person who takes his own life will also give an account of his death. That was a new perspective for me. Giving an account of our individual lives and every word spoken is already overwhelming to think about, but what a burden to carry to give an account of one’s death! What would it be like to stand before the Judge and explain why I didn’t want His breath of life flowing through my body? What would it be like to say, “I chose the day I died, not You?”
After considering the words of Sha’ul to the Corinthians, I began to see something else about ‘overwhelming depression.’ What if those who take their lives stand before God and say, “No one forgave me, no one encouraged my faith in Yeshua, no one comforted me when I struggled?” What if the Body of Messiah will ultimately be accountable for the death of those who were struggling with ‘overwhelming depression?’ What if the Body of Messiah has lost the conviction to forgive, encourage, and comfort? What if the Body of Messiah has lost its connection with Yeshua who has the Words of eternal life and the Spirit that gives life?
Sha’ul says in 1 Corinthians 11 that those who ‘eat the body and drink the wine’ in an unworthy manner, who don’t recognize the Body of Messiah, drink judgment upon themselves. He explains this is why many are weak and sick within the congregation. Could the same be said for those who don’t forgive, encourage, and comfort those with ‘overwhelming depression,’ suffering a conflict between spirit and soul?
These questions will be answered in the world to come; however, today I hear of another man, an acquaintance of friends, who took his life. What it will be like when he stands before God and gives an account of his death? Will it be about the battle between his soul and spirit that he had no power to overcome? Will it be that he just didn’t know or understand that his identity wasn’t in the pain he suffered –– it was in Yeshua who took his pain so he could be free from his suffering? Or, will it be that he never had truly accepted the forgiveness offered by Adonai through Yeshua’s blood. Though everyone said he was a good man, did he have a broken, un-restored relationship with God that will keep him from Eternity?
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