The Swallowing of Overwhelming Depression

“Now if someone has been a cause of pain, it is not I (Sha’ul) 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? 

Deeply-Rooted Pain

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 the modern-day option of pharmeceuticals. 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?

According to Scripture, the Body of Messiah imposes punishment on such people by their actions or inactions.  This can be done to unbelievers as well as believers causing a gigantic chasm between the healing power of our God and the lost and dying soul. According to Sha’ul the punishment (being ignored, judged, ostracized) of those in the congregation is sufficient, but he states more is needed – congregations are admonished to forgive, encourage and comfort the suffering individual. I would add this needs to be done outside the Body of Messiah as well as inside.

“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).

A book entitled “A More Excellent Way” written by Henry Wright delves into the spiritual roots of disease using the Scriptures 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 by God

First and foremost, forgiveness.  Forgiveness begins with the relationship we have with God.  By Yeshua’s blood forgiveness of sin and guilt is allotted to each of us as individuals.  Our relationship with God can be restored through forgiveness, but without Yeshua, our relationship with our Creator/Father remains broken.

“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).

Forgiveness from those with whom we fellowship is also necessary.  Yeshua commanded that we forgive our brothers and sisters in order to receive personal forgiveness from the Father.  We can’t have one without the other.  He commands we forgive a brother or sister 7 times 70 or until forgiveness brings healing to the individuals involved (Matthew 18:22). 

Forgiveness of Oneself

Forgiveness of oneself is often the most difficult because in wounding 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 includes loving others as we love ourselves.  Loving ourselves includes forgiving ourselves in spite of Satan reminding us of our fallen nature  and judging our hearts with words like, “You’re not good enough to be forgiven.  You have to flesh this out!”  

Because the Adversary is the father of lies, these words are blatant lies.  Yeshua ‘fleshed’  everything out by taking on our sins, our sickness, our diseases, our guilt issues, our depression on the cross. 

Knowing that our Father has forgiven us and Yeshua died so we could receive that forgiveness can set us free from “overwhelming depression” because standing on Truth refutes the accusations of the enemy.  

Recently I read a sad 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.  Doctors agreed with her decision because in the Netherlands it is legal for anyone over 12 to make the decision to commit legal suicide.  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 those who trust in the God of Israel and the Messiah 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 the pain inflicted by the Body of Messiah, but it is the result of the fields being white for the harvest and few workers.  Death is not the way out of pain and ‘overwhelming depression’; Yeshua is.  

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

Encouragement from The Body

To encourage others in the relationships we have is the reflection of Yeshua’s life in us.  The journey to healing and restoration includes encouragement to continue walking through and eventually out of the pain one has suffered.   It is important for someone who struggles guilt and the ensuing depression must learn how to overcome and not revert into the same emotionally destructive patterns.   Encouragement from those in the Body of Messiah, the spiritual family of believers, becomes key to progressing the healing process. 

“Let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).

In what is your identity?

Each of us can become consumed by the disease of depression that we need to be reminded to see ourselves as God sees us – whole and healed being transformed into the image of His son.  Our identity should never be in the pain, the depression or the disease, but in Yeshua who set us free from the spiritual roots of disease. 

I knew a woman who asked that God 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!  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 something that had nothing to do with the cancer.

Awhile back I was part of a group of people praying for someone who was ill.  Different supplicators 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 reason and purpose for Yeshua’s death and resurrection.

“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 because the Adversary challenged that righteousness.  In the end, Job learned about God’s Sovereignty and his life was restored with greater blessings.  In all of his struggles, he never embraced his afflictions as his identity and willfully consoled his pain by believing he suddenly has some inspiration as to how he was going to die!  

Though disease and working through the pain of disease may be allowed by God to transform us into the image of Messiah through suffering, God does not give us diseases to teach us a lesson or show us the way we are going to die.  One of the names or characteristics of God is the El Rafa or the Healer.  It confounds me as to why a Healer would inflict illness on His people and why people actually believe such nonsense.  Perhaps the only reason a person has a disease is because it’s the only way to send a faithful servant to a place where someone needs to hear the message of salvation in Yeshua.  

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, compassionate Father, God of all encouragement and comfort; who encourages us in all our trials, so that we can encourage others in whatever trials they be undergoing with the encouragement we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

At the last Passover as Yeshua spoke of the new covenant instituted by his blood, he promised a Comforter when he ascended to the Father.  The Comforter gives us the power to overcome sin in our lives.  Many of the sins with which we find ourselves entangled are rooted in our weakness as a human being, but by  embracing the Ruach, the Spirit of God, we receive the power to stand against those sins and the Comforter  becomes the ‘medication’ that not just manages the disease, but heals our mind and soul and ultimately our bodies.  

“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).

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.  If that is the case, then what does that mean?

It means that 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 (mind) is telling you? Have you embraced that you have a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2)?

“For who has known the mind of Adonai?  Who will counsel him? But we have the mind of Messiah” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Death from Suicide

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 was alone!  He was not a believer, but very much into mysticism.  What battle was raging in 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, as a believer, 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 just 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 and he hurled the pieces of silver into the sanctuary of the Temple 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 own lives, much discussion ensues.  Some believe that the person loses eternal life; others believe they never have it.  Still others say, ‘once saved, always saved’ or believe that just because the person had loved one, they receive a special place with God.  Though each person has their reasons for their viewpoint, they never really dealt with the consequences of ‘murdering’ oneself. I had no real opinion so I put it in the same category of Pharaoh who’s heart was hardened by God because there was an eternal plan.  Only 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. This man said 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 one who takes his life will also give an account of his death.  That was a new perspective for me to ponder.  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 my Creator and 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 choose the day I’m going to die, not You?”

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

After considering the words of Sha’ul to the Corinthians, I began to see another side of the ‘account of death.’  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 comfort of the Spirit when I struggled?”  What if the Body of Messiah will ultimately accountable for the death of one of those who was 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 Father, Yeshua (who has the Words of eternal life) and the Spirit that gives us that life? 

Sha’ul sayas 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 that 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 by the Father in the world to come.  Until then, as another man, considered a believer, succumbs to suicide, I wonder what his resurrection moment will be like when he stands before God and gives an account of his death.  Will it be about a battle between his soul and spirit that he had no power to overcome – he lacked the power of the Spirit of God and walked a life of defeat?  Will it be that he just didn’t know and understand that his identity wasn’t in the pain he suffered, it was in Messiah Yeshua who took on the 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 Messiah’s blood and, though he was a good man had a broken, unrestored relationship that will keep him from an eternal Paradise?  Whatever brought him to be ‘swallowed by overwhelming depression’ will be given an account. Whatever condition his/her soul, believer or non-believer, whose burden will it be?

©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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