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Prophetic Depression (33)
Christopher B. Harbin
1st Kings 19:1-18
We often have difficulties in dealing with psychological disorders. We are so used to thinking that we can be in control of ourselves, our actions, our speech, and our decisions that it is very hard to grasp that a psychological disorder is just as much an infirmity as appendicitis, cancer, pneumonia, or gout. It makes it harder for us to deal with something like clinical depression along the same lines as we deal with the flu, diabetes, or acid reflux. It is hard enough for us to understand dementia or Alzheimer's in a way that does not attribute shame or guilt on the victims of these conditions. With mental illnesses like depression, we tend to treat them as moral failures instead of health conditions which can be treated by a physician. Why is it so hard for us to treat people with love and acceptance instead of casting shame and condemnation for things beyond their control?
Of all psychological disorders, perhaps depression is one we are most ready to deal with as a moral failure. We look at depression as a failure of one's will, just as we do with addictions. In point of fact, the two are often medically related, as treating an addict with anti-depressants often allows the person to become much more successful in stepping away from their addictions. More often, however, we have tended to worsen cases of depression and addiction by adding shame to an individual's struggles. Rather than extending a hand of compassion, we more often condemn for what one cannot control.
That is not how God operates. It is not the pattern established for us in Scripture. There is more than one case of prophets in the Bible who rather clearly suffered from clinical depression, yet there is not divine word of condemnation for them. God's response is rather different than the standard human reaction to those who struggle.
In 1st Kings 19, we find the greatest of the prophets strug ...
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