Moving Beyond the Blues


Greg Barber

Today we are going to be dialoguing about a topic that is can be difficult. Maybe you feel like it is something:

  • Only other people deal with
  • I am the only person dealing with it
  • People try to hide it, but aren’t very good at hiding it
  • What is something that I am really good at hiding
  • What is something that I just need to learn to live with
  • What is something that affects every aspect of your life
  • What is something that pushes us to isolate
  • What is something that only gets worse when you isolate yourself

DEPRESSION

But before we dive into it I want us to share something in order to get our minds going in the same direction. When have you truly felt something? A clear emotion, feeling. It started, it stopped and you felt it. It may be pain. It may be an emotion. It may have been fun. It may have not been any fun, but let’s think about it right now. 

When have you truly felt something?

When we think about feeling, we generally think of feeling things at the most epic scale: 

  • Saddest
  • Happiest
  • Maddest
  • Confused-est

Most emotions are not EST, but that does not mean that they are not real or don’t have real impact. Today we are not necessarily focusing on the extreme of depression. We are not necessarily talking about clinical depression. That is a real thing, and there are people much more certified than me to talk about it.

But today, in life, in the everyday, we are talking about the blues. 

  • Feeling messed up
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling alone
  • Feeling depressed

Today I am going to jump right into it. If I went to your workplace, your family, your school, your New Year’s Eve Party, your neighborhood meeting; and I asked everyone there who was not living for God: 

  • Why aren’t you living for God? 
  • Why don’t you go to church?
  • Why hasn’t Christianity changed your life? 

If we asked them all and if we got an honest answer, what do you think the answer would be?

If you asked non-Christians why they aren’t Christian, what answers do you think you would hear?

How many of you think the answer would be:

  • God has nothing for me
  • The church has nothing for me
  • The bible has nothing for me
  • Jesus has nothing for me
  • Christians definitly have nothing for me
  • It just isn’t my thing
  • It does not add to my life
  • I have tried it before, I have been to church, I have said the prayers, but there is nothing for me
  • Christianity is not relevant or important

Here is the scary reality: if we were honest with ourselves, forget about being honest with each other, if we were honest with ourselves I think we would say that we sometimes feel that way. 

God do you have anything for me? Do you hear me? Do you see me? Do you even care about me? Are you really involved with my life? 

I truly believe that God knows your situation, God knows your experiences, God knows what you go through everyday, God is broken by the things that break you, God stays up at night thinking about you and your situations. This reality has to be more than just talk or Church is pointsless. I really believe that He has something for us. For us in our reality and in our real situations. Even in the midst of something so real as depression. I belive that realitonship with Jesus impacts us ina tough times. 

This does not mean that he fixes it all, it is so much more complex than that. When have I been shaped the most? Where has my character been built? What has made me, me? Often it’s in the midst of the hard times. So relationship with Jesus does not and should not fix everything. If that was the goal it would be pretty one sided: “I have relationship with Jesus so I can get my stuff fixed…” Relationship with Jesus does impact our hardest times. Our hard times like depression. 

It is easy to think:

  • Just suck it up
  • Just get over it
  • It’s not that bad
  • Just deal with it

These are all things that I say to myself in the midst of a moment of depression. We’re ashamed of it, we’re embarrassed of it, we think we should just be able to walk away from it; but it is real, it is powerful, it is experience by all of us. So what should we do? 

There are thousands and thousands of things in the world that cause depression. From lack of sleep, to guilt, to being overworked. There are chemical imbalances. They are real just as heart disease is real. I believe in the medicines that are available. This type of depression should not be something that we are ashamed of, but we should rather embrace the help that is available.

Most depression that most people feel is not physiological. It is situational and it is real. The feeling is real. Today we are going to look at three situations which can cause us to feel depressed. 

Feeling down because…

1) I messed up

2) I’m in a hopeless situation

3) I feel abandoned

Today we are looking at three people in the bible that felt these things and then had a turning point. These stories have a nice clean turning point. I don’t think that is a promise. A nice clean cause and effect turing point is not promised to us, but we need to evaluate and apply what we see in these stories. I think they teach us, lead us, help us as we apply their actions in our situations. 

I MESSED UP

(JONAH MESSED UP)

God directed Jonah to go to Nineveh however; Jonah disobeyed, boarded a ship and headed for Tarshish. The sailors of the ship became concerned because of the great storm that brewed and Jonah explained that God was bringing judgment upon him. The sailors threw him into the sea where he was swallowed by an enormous fish. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17).

Jonah, the prophet of God, had disobeyed God. He had been in a terrible storm at sea, had been thrown overboard by the ship’s crew, had been swallowed by a giant fish, and had been there in the stomach of the fish for three days with seaweed wrapped about his head. This was certainly an opportunity for being depressed! However, he began to pray and praise God. He said, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).

Jonah 2
Jonah’s Prayer
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the LORD ,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave [1] I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, [2]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD ,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD .”
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah proclaimed “Even when I don’t see, I still believe”

I’M IN A HOPELESS SITUATION

(JEHOSHAPHAT WAS HOPELESS)

Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was surrounded by the armies of three of his enemies. His army was far outnumbered by the armies of his enemies. Surely this was an opportunity to give in to hopelessness. What did he do? He sent the singers out before his army to sing and to praise the LORD (II Chronicles 20:20–22).

2 Chronicles 20
22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

Through his actions Jehoshaphat proclaimed, “even when I don’t see I still believe.”

I FEEL ABANDONED

(PAUL AND SILAS WERE ABANDONED)

We find another example in the book of Acts. Paul and Silas had been severely beaten and had been put in prison with their feet in stocks, all for preaching the gospel. Here was a real opportunity to believe that God had deserted them and become depressed. However, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them”

Acts 16:16:40
Paul and Silas in Prison
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Even in their messed up situation Paul and Silas proclaimed “even when I don’t see I still belive.”

What happens inside a person that has reason to be depressed as they worship God? Physically, emotionally and Spiritually

Again, I don’t think this is meant to be a nice clean promise of immedaitly fixing the blues. I don’t think this is a principle that should be brought to clinical depression as the fix all. I do think something changes in us as we worship.

Proverbs 3:5–12 in the MESSAGE VERSION puts it this way
Proverbs 3:5–12 (Message)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.

Worship. It is powerful. It is active. It is a response. It is eternal. In Revelations 7 we see this picture of heaven worshipping: 

Revelations 7:11–12
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

I don’t know what situation you are facing. I am not saying that everyone is depressed, but I do know that we live in a world that it is so easy to get down. I know depression is something that we all face at different times, but today maybe you are down because you messed up, maybe you are down because you are in a situation where you are overwhelmed, maybe you are down because you feel abandedoned. In those moments my simple faith says that something changes when we choose to worship, when we choose to look to God, dwell on God, adore God. I believe our faith is not worthless, it is transformative. Now this is not a moment to simply sing a song. Worship is so much more than a song. 

Today, let’s write. Write a thank you note to God. I have an issue with thank you notes. I procrastinate. Then it is just weird to write a thank you months after christmas gifts where recived. Months after your birthday. Time passes and then I just don’t do it. I do the same thing in appreciating God. I procrastinate and then I end of just not doing it. 

As our year ends, as we walk into a new year, express appreciation in writing, and in doing so worship God. 

Write a worshipful thank you card to God

Take It Deeper Questions:

  • Read: Acts 16:1–40
  • How do you respond internally and externally to people who are going through tough times?
  • What would be a trigger for depression for you?
  • What response from people you love is the most helpful when you are feeling depressed?
  • What prompted Paul and Silas to sing hymns of worship while being imprisoned? (vs. 25)
  • What impact does worship have on a person when they are going through tough times? Emotionally, physically and Spiritually
  • Is worship something that just happens or is chosen? Why?

The post was adapted from a message shared at Corner Church by Scott Woller & Greg J Barber

Messages depression, Acts 16, Revelations 7, Proverbs 3, Paul, Silas, 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat, Jonah, Messed up, Abandoned, Hopeless, Blues