The Swallowing of Overwhelming Depression

“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 by a state of pain where there was a lack of forgiveness, encouragement, and comfort from others, from themselves? 

The person who lives with overwhelming depression has pain whether it is self-inflicted or from someone else.  Many try to mask that pain with alcohol, sex, and illegal drugs. For many who suffer they 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 Scriptural basis 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

Forgiveness begins with the relationship each individual has with God.  Through Yeshua’s blood, forgiveness of sin and the guilt associated with it is allotted to each of us as individuals.  Without Yeshua, without his blood and forgiveness, our relationship with our Father in heaven remains broken.

Forgiveness for and from others is also necessary.  Yeshua commanded that we must forgive others in order to receive forgiveness from the Father.  We can’t have one without the other.  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 often the most difficult because in wounding one another, we wound ourselves.  This can become a never-ending cycle of blame and hurt.  Forgiving ourselves when another refuses to forgive us can also be an insurmountable wall.

Tucked away in the second part of the two greatest commandments is loving others as we love ourselves.  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.  You have to flesh this out!”  

Yeshua ‘fleshed’  everything out by taking on our sins, our sickness, our diseases, our guilt issues, and our depression on the cross.  Knowing that our Father has forgiven us can set us free from overwhelming depression because standing on the sacrificial love of Yeshua destroys all accusations of the enemy.  

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.  Because in the Netherlands it is legal for anyone over 12 to commit suicide, 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. 

Because the Netherlands is now post-Christian, placing the God of the Bible and Yeshua behind glass like in a museum as something ‘cute’ and in 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 into her mind and she is lost for all eternity.  

This is not an example of pain inflicted by the Body of Messiah, but it is the result of the fields being white for the harvest and few workers understand the spiritual roots of pain and suffering. Death is not the way out of pain and overwhelming depression, Yeshua is.

“Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him.  Indeed just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

“Instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The Identity of Disease

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 only 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.

“In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God.  But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and in fellowship with him, we are healed” 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!  

“It is the Spirit of God that made me, the breath of Shaddai that gives me life” (Job 33:4).  

One of the names or characteristics of God is the El Rafa or God The Healer.  It confounds me why 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 someone 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.

The Conflict of Soul and Spirit

Henry Wright suggests that 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 Truth in your spiritual man and what your soul is telling you?

I have known three people to take 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 not a believer, but 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 action,  I could not fathom making the decision 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).

“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).  

Eternity and Self-Inflicted Murder

With each of those that I knew who took their lives, much discussion ensues about eternity.  Some believe that 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 place with God.  Though each person has their reasons 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 quite overwhelming, but what a burden to carry to give an account of one’s death!  What would it be like to stand before the Father and explain why I didn’t want His breath of life any longer 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 me to walk in faith like Yeshua, no one comforted me with the Counselor 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 command to forgive, encourage, and comfort? What if the Body of Messiah has lost its connection with the Yeshua who has the Words of eternal life, and the Spirit that gives us that 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 there are many who 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 debilitating conflict between spirit and soul?

Ultimately the answers to these questions will be answered in the world to come.  Today I hear another man, an acquaintance of believing friends, succumbed to suicide. I wonder 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 – he lacked the power of the Spirit and walked a life of defeat?  Will it be that he just didn’t know or understand that his identity wasn’t in the pain he suffered, it was in Messiah 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 God through Yeshua’s blood. Though he was a good man did he have a broken, unrestored relationship with God that will keep him from an eternal Paradise?

“Dear friend, I am praying that everything prosper with you and that you be in good health, as I know you are prospering spiritually” (3 John 2).

“May the God of shalom make you completely holy – may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

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