About three years ago, I felt God speak to me about a huge problem in America...depression. It was something that weighed so heavily on my heart, and it just wouldn't go away. It is such a huge problem, not only in the secular world but also among Christians.
I attended a women's retreat a couple of years ago with my church, and one of the things discussed was the fruit of the Spirit and what it consists of. Galatians 5:22-23 says that the fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." After meeting in a big group, we were broken up into small groups where we discussed what we had learned. As the women were speaking, I felt God telling me to speak up about depression and specifically depression medication. I fought it for a few minutes and tried to avoid it, but God wasn't letting up. So reluctantly, I brought up the fruit of the Spirit. I told them that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit and that God tells us to covet the fruits, but that so often when Christians get down or depressed, they quickly run to their doctors instead of the Great Physician. Christians want to condemn those who get drunk on alcohol or mind-altering illegal drugs but don't think anything about popping Prozac. In my opinion, many people drink alcohol so that they can get away from the stresses of the world and relax...to get that "good" feeling. Isn't that the same thing as taking that depression medication that makes you feel better? Anyway, after talking to my group about this, no one really commented. Actually, the room got quite quiet. I was thinking...oops! However, after leaving the group, I had two women tell me that they had been battling depression and that they didn't want to live on these medications. They told me their stories and how they wanted to change. One even told me that her husband believed that every woman should be on some sort of hormone or depression medication (Can you believe that?! I mean, don't you think that if that was what God intended, then we would have some little button on our arms to release the meds?). Crazy!
Anyway, I say this to say that I have been working through a Beth Moore Bible Study: "A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place". It is a study of God's persistent desire to relate to His children as the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. I have learned so much through this study! It is amazing how much God has done to get close to us. It is quite humbling!
So I've been working on this study for a few weeks. Although it's such a great study, I often find other "more important things" to do, and I put it off. Well I've been doing that over the past week and a half. But not only have I been putting off my Bible study, I've also been putting my relationship with God on hold. I've just been too busy...too busy getting the kids ready, cleaning, working on the computer, etc. I have barely worked God into my schedule let alone worked my schedule around God. The result? Feelings of diminished hope, lack of get-up-and-go, feelings of depression. I've been short with my husband and short with my kids. I haven't bothered to get in touch with my friends as often as I would like.
Then today, I watched Joyce Meyer. Her message was amazing! She was talking about how much God loves us, no matter how often we mess up. How when we are tired, "He will renew our strength, we will soar on wings like eagles..." (ok, so I probably didn't get that exactly right, but you know the verse.). She said that while her children often do things differently than she would like, she never stops loving them, and she certainly doesn't want anyone talking about them...just like God is with us!
After Joyce, I got back to my Beth Moore study. Today it was amazing! God really spoke to me through his Word. This blog is long enough, so I won't go into everything, but I will highlight a couple of things. She had us read John 15:2, 4-6. "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful...No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit... If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown in to the fire and burned."
Did you catch the part about "withering"? That is exactly how I've been over the past couple of weeks; like a withering branch. Beth says that a relationship with God is not something that can be "stored up". It must be renewed every day! Without that daily relationship, we WITHER! Wow! What a perfect illustration. And as Joyce pointed out today, you aren't going to be at the level of someone who has been in strong relationship with God for 40 years after your two week relationship with Him. However, if you remain faithful, things will get better. I mean, I feel better after one day.
Check out these statistics I found today:
- Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million Americans.
- Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for anti-depressants. (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!)
- 30% of Americans are depressed. (I would guess more)
- 15% of depressed people will commit suicide.
- Depression will be the 2nd largest killer after heart disease by 2020.
- Depression results in more absenteeism than almost any other physical disorder and costs employers more than 51 billion dollars a year in absenteeism and lost productivity, no including high medical and pharmaceutical bills.
- Standard depressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft have been revealed to have serious risks and are linked to suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding, and brain tumors.
Joyce also said today that many times, those in ministry have a poor relationship with God because they hide themselves with their acts for God. They convince themselves that their relationships are in good standing because they're doing so much for Him. I've done that, but that makes about as much sense as me just doing things for Channing and never with him, you know?
One thing I've learned is that if you want, God will allow you to do things on your own. He wants to be included, but He needs to be invited.. In the book of John, He tells you that if you remain "in Him, you will bear much fruit but apart from Him, you can do nothing." The best example I can think of is with my son, Tristan. He used to try to tie his shoes on his own. He's three, he has no idea how to tie his shoes. However, he always wanted to do it and insisted that we leave him alone. So we would. After a couple of minutes of frustration at his failed attempts, he would come to us for help. Now isn't that just like us? I know it's what I do. Even though I know II need God, I still try to go it alone. My attempts always fail, and I end up right back where I should have been. On my knees begging for help.
I'm sorry this post has been so long, but God has really been speaking to my heart today, and I feel like there are others who have allowed themselves to struggle as I have. I am tired of seeing people on all this unneccessary medication. God desires to help us. We just need to ask!
I'm not a doctor, so I can't tell you to stop taking depression medication, but I can tell you to please give God a chance. Let's work together to build a strong relationship with God. It's what He desires and what we need.