A recent article in a German magazine pointed out that five to ten percent of all people in the Western World suffer depression. In Germany alone, 12,000 people commit suicide each year because of depression, and 250,000 people are hospitalized because of depression-related suicide attempts (Online Focus, February 15, 2004).
Clinical depression is the end result of a development beginning with feelings of temporary frustration and self-pity. Rather than fighting and overcoming those feelings, affected people are often times being told by medical “experts” to concentrate on their own selves — to develop feelings to booster and inflate their “Ego” — to try to feel better about themselves and to develop a better “self-esteem,” while at the same time blaming others for their condition, including parents, friends, relatives, or just the society as a whole. THAT, however, is the surest way NOT to overcome depression.
The feeling of self-pity — the “woe-is-me” -syndrome — may even lead to suicide, if not overcome in time. Judas committed suicide when he realized what he had done. Rather than truly repenting in a godly way, rather than seeking help from GOD to continue, he did not want to live anymore — his grief for himself was just too much for him to bear (compare Matthew 27:3-5).
Paul, on the other hand, also had a lot to be sorry about. As Saul, he caused true Christians to be killed. But he repented in a godly way, and although he never forgot what he had done, he did not blame others for his deeds. Rather, he looked to God for mercy and forgiveness and began to live a new life (compare Acts 26:9-18).
We all have sinned (compare Ecclesiastes 7:20). We all have done things in our lives of which we are not proud. We all could find fault in others, blaming them for what we became and what we are today. But such conduct is not productive and healthy. We are what we are, and we all must change — and continue to change — to become better persons. To do that, we must look to God for help and to develop a love for others. Christ said that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). When we concentrate on others, and how we can help them, we are less concerned about and occupied with ourselves — what WE are, and what WE can get from others. When we are “more blessed,” then we are happier persons. Christ is telling us that it is more rewarding, more profitable, more important, more healthy and productive, to try to make others happy, than it is to try to make ourselves happy. The seeming paradox is, that if we concentrate on others and how we can help them, we WILL become happier persons ourselves. This is the godly way of how we can overcome depression. It includes forgiving others — what they might have done to us, knowing that we have done wrong things to others as well (compare Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). It includes an understanding that true love “covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).
God does not become depressed. He is a very happy Personage, because HE IS LOVE (1 John 4:16). And love — true godly love — is outflowing. It shares, and it is concerned about the welfare and benefit of others — how to make others happy.
If you don’t want to overcome depression and frustration, all you have to do is to blame others for your present condition. Concentrate on yourself, live with self-pity and hate for others and for society as a whole. Justify your wrongs, by pointing the finger at injustices that you might have had to endure. Blame your bad luck, your upbringing, your heritage, or maybe even God for being unfair. Dwell on the mistakes others have made and how they have hurt you.
On the other hand, if you are depressed and want to overcome depression, and if you want to become a happier person, you need to first of all admit that YOU have done wrong things — as everybody else has. Rather than concentrating on the sins of others, examine yourself (compare 2 Corinthians 13:5). Admit that you were wrong, that you did wrong, and repent of the wrong. In leaving behind what is in the past (compare Philippians 3:13), you need to begin a new life of hope and trust in God — realizing that God knows what He is doing.
You will soon find that feelings of depression and frustration will leave you. That there is hope for your future (Jeremiah 31:17). That you can love yourself, by loving others (Matthew 19:19). That an interest for others can become your new way of life, including praying for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Realize that Christ died for you when you were still His enemy (Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:21). You will soon realize that your happiness and joy will be the result, and that feelings of frustration and hopelessness will belong to the past.
Depression originates from Satan. We are told to resist Satan, and he — with his destructive feelings — will flee from us (James 4:7). We must submit to God, and He will lift us up (James 4:7-10) — that is, He will give us comfort, consolation, happiness and hope for the future. Christ showed us how to do it. When Satan tempted Him to sin, to give up the purpose for His First Coming, Christ told him: “Away with you, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10). As a consequence, Satan had to leave, and God’s angels came to serve Christ (Matthew 4:11). Later, in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed to God the Father for spiritual help, and an angel appeared to strengthen Him (Luke 22:41-44). All the time, Christ had His great purpose in mind — that He had come to give His life for OTHERS, so that OTHERS could live (compare John 10:10; 17:4; Matthew 16:21-23). God the Father and Jesus Christ loved us so much, that they were willing to bring this supreme sacrifice — for YOU and for me (John 3:16-17; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2). Christ never allowed Satan’s feelings of frustration, hopelessness and depression to find a place in His mind. Satan offered Him the kingdoms of this world, and he tried to bring Christ to the point where He would feel more important than was fitting (Compare Matthew 4:5-9). “Prove to me that YOU are the Son of God!”, Satan said, in effect. “You don’t have to go through all these trials set before you — all you need to do is to worship me, and all will be yours! Take the easy way out!”
But Christ rejected all of those feelings and temptations, which could have led to depression and frustration. Christ always upheld and maintained His love for God and man, thereby resisting the devil. He did not blame others for His situation, justifying thereby to choose “the easy way out.” He had come to die for us, because of His great love for us. He came to share His love with us, so that we could overcome depression and become happier persons — and ultimately enter the very Kingdom of God — a kingdom of unspeakable happiness and joy (Matthew 25:21; Psalm 16:11). And so, the devil had to depart from Him. We must act the same. And when we do, happy are we!