Monday 7 February 2022



In the likeness of the medical profession, Ministers of religion have the task of meeting, and have the task of trying to help and care for those people suffering with depression.  Whilst this in comparison with other illnesses is not in the same serious category, it is debilitating and distressing.  Modern day living has caused feelings and lives widespread across age, gender, race and class to be victims.   A part is due to the pace of life, and the effects of the pandemic which has destroyed or devastated millions of lives in every country.

Lockdowns in many countries caused people, especially the older ones, to spend hours, days, even weeks alone, and life to-day has moved families which once lived close to each other, to be literally across the world.  The separation and loneliness has preyed on minds, and the medical profession has recognized a distinct rise in mental health problems.

But in addition, business people have had their places closed, and workers have had their jobs either lost or in abeyance.  Students have been reduced to teaching through a computer, and in England I read that only one University has face to face to teaching.

We all get depressed at some time and we shake it off.  In other cases we cannot do so.  Indeed, some people love begin depressed, for it brings what they crave, sympathy and attention.  But anyone who has had to care for a close relative suffering from dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease, and has love for that person cannot but be depressed.

I have ministered to people with heart trouble, cancer, and serious injuries, but say with full conviction, no illness at all compares with dementia.  I have met with strong men, clever people who have cried many tears at seeing a mother asking them, ‘who are you’; not recognizing members of their own family. Bright women and men, once full of life becoming what one person called ‘living corpse’. Such may sound like a cruel term, but I appreciate what was felt, a person alive but not fully realizing it, as they cannot understand  what is going on.  This can last for a long time, and depression is unavoidable at seeing such suffering.

But of course there are other less serious motivations for depression.  Worry, anxiety, fear, all lead to it.   People worry over their health, future, will they get that promotion they have waited so long for, will they be able to afford a holiday, all the small facets of life which have such a bug influence in life.

There are so many fears in modern life. Young people facing life away from home for the first time. The man in his 40s fearing redundancy. Young managers worried at having to achieve ridiculously high targets. The business man working such hours he hardly has little time to see his family. The fear of marriage breakdown, Of serious illness. Fear of losing someone dear. These are all perils faced by people every single day.

Martin Luther, the German monk who created the Protestant Reformation which changed the Church situation across the world, breaking a way to a faith based Church from a corrupt one. He was constantly depressed fearing God would not forgive him for any sins he had committed, until he read a verse in Romans which told him that everyone who believes in Christ will be forgiven and the righteous shall live by faith.  He went out and preached this which started the great revival of 1517.  Now we in Evangelical Churches remember the anniversary each October 504 years later.

His namesake Martin Luther King, an American black Pastor was depressed by the treatment of his fellow black country people, and by his devotion eventually caused the United States Government to introduce laws giving them freedom.  Whilst there is still some resistance, it is so far better than could have been.  What a blessing black people have been to the Christian Church. I have enjoyed preaching where they have been present, they are so committed.

Paul, the major Apostle was often depressed, but in his Letter to the Philippians stated, ‘in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God’. He further stated, ‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me’

The Bible is full of people who were depressed, but were lifted out by faith.  Hannah who suffered as she was unable to have a child, which for a Jewish woman was looked down on, but she was answered. Elijah and Jeremiah. Two major prophets of the Old Testament, David the greatest Jewish King, all were depressed, but were helped to recovery.

I hope I am considered by the Lord to be faithful in my faith, but I am also one who likes integrity. I hear fellow Christians giving grieving people full assurances, that simple prayer will resolve all their problems. I cannot do that, for I have seen consequences when that does not happen, so to be so positive is not always helpful.

 Yes, I do encourage prayer, but the Bible also tells us that God has a plan for everyone of his people.  Like an earthly father, God looks after his children, and as the earthly father may not answer his child to their wish, it is because he has other ideas for them to fulfil.  I accept that God may not answer as we might have hoped, but out of care for us in a different way.

Some people may be thinking I have given all causes for depression, yet missed one out, and that of curse is undoubtedly the major cause.  Grief after death of a loved one.

Last week I did refer briefly to this, but it is so all embracing every aspect of our life when we lose a dear wife, mother, father, brother or sister, or lesser close relative or even friend. Anyone I believe who looses a wife without being depressed, has not loved them deeply.  I say that respectfully, but when years have been spent in the closest possible way, and suddenly it is over, everything you have lived for has gone, and you know you will never see them again in your life.

 I have seen so many many times, men unable to move at a funeral with grief, and as I stated last week, men take it worse in my experience, although I fully agree women are also deeply hurt.

I have heard it said many times things will get easier as time goes on, but have never been assured. In fact, I don’t believe it, I think it will increase if true love existed.

 Paul’s First to Letter to Corinthians in Chapter 15 tells of new life with Christ after death on earth, and that of course is the Christian teaching.  I look forward with Christian hope,to meeting the many friends I have known during ministry and have gone ahead.

 Before closing I want to give helpful advice to anyone put in the position of meeting a grieving friend.  Pastor Robert Jeffress, the distinguished teacher of First Baptist Church in Dallas, was preaching recently about death and stated wisely, if you feel like crying do so, that is what Jesus did at the death of his friend Lazarus.  If you don’t know what to say to someone grieving, don’t say anything, and love by Jesus doesn’t except you from grieving.

 Finally, the words of Jesus in Matthew 11 . Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  

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