Sermon title:

Depression Hit Disciples and Prophets

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, July 12, 2020

Our sermons in recent weeks

have followed our Lord Jesus as he was put on trial unfairly and unjustly.

We’ve watched as he was wrongly convicted

on false charges, and as he was sentenced to death by a judge

who knew Jesus was really innocent.

And then we watched as he suffered on the cross

and died a painful death.

But, as we read and discussed all these events,

they didn’t have the same effect on us

that they had on the people who were actually there

our Lord’s disciples, companions

and family members.

That’s because we know the end of the story.

We’ve read the whole Bible.

We know that Christ won the victory at the cross,

that he rose from the grave on the 3rd day,

and that his sacrificial death

paid the penalty for our sins

and set us free.

We know that he ascended to heaven,

sat down on the throne of God,

and is coming again

at the head of armies of angels,

to rule the world as our immortal King.

But the people who were there with our Lord Jesus,

and who watched as he was tried and crucified—

they were discouraged and depressed

by what they saw.

They didn’t have the 20-20 hindsight

that we have today,

and that allows us to put it all into perspective.

They just saw their beloved teacher ridiculed, abused

spit upon, beaten until he was bloody,

and put through a horrible death.

Yes, Jesus had told them repeatedly, ahead of time,

that he was about to go through that agony,

and that it would prove to be good in the end,

bringing good results.

But his earlier words were overshadowed that day

by the harsh reality of what they saw happen.

And it was a depressing scene.

The Gospels tell us

that even the sky turned dark and gloomy

while our Lord hung on the cross.

And, at the moment he died,

the earth shook in a powerful earthquake.

Matthew 27:54 says,

54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Imagine how guilty they must have felt,

having been the ones who killed him!

And the rest of the people who saw Christ die

were terribly sad.

Luke 23 tells us,

48When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

People beat their breasts

and left the scene overwhelmed with sadness.

That sadness and grief left Jesus’ disciples

discouraged and depressed.

Despite what Jesus had told them ahead of time,

that he would rise from the dead,

all they saw was the depressing reality

of what they were actually going through.

Their hopes were dashed, and they were very sad.

We see that in the encounter the risen Christ had

with two of them on the road to Emmaus,

before he revealed himself to them.

Luke 24:13 begins,

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles a from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.

17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast.

Other translations say,

"sadness on their faces."

"sadness written across their faces."

"looked discouraged."

"looking sad and gloomy."

18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19“What things?” he asked.

About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

Before Christ revealed himself to them

that he was now risen and alive,

their faces were downcast,

they were sad, discouraged, gloomy,


And this must have been the condition

of the rest of the disciples

who had just lost their Lord to death

and who saw their hope disappear.

So, what about us today?

Might we become depressed, discouraged and sad?

Could our circumstances in this world today

lead us to discouragement and even to depression?

The economy that was booming just months ago

has now collapsed, and millions are without jobs.

Violent mobs are setting fire to buildings and police cars,

tearing down statues,

and threatening to change our culture

and erase our history.

A cruel pandemic illness is sweeping the globe,

and we have all been affected—

if not by the illness itself,

then by shortages of toilet paper and grocery items,

and by forced social isolation.

News reports indicate depression is widespread,

and suicide rates are up significantly.


Now, some church people will tell you

that can’t happen to believers.

They will tell you that real Christians

never become depressed.

You must be lacking faith, they say.

You must not be right with the Lord.

Shame on you!—for being depressed, they imply.

And that’s enough to make you even more depressed.

I recall one time years ago

receiving a letter from someone

about a photo of me

that was published by my ministry.

The man who wrote the letter to me

said he didn’t believe I was really a Christian

because I wasn’t smiling in that photo.

His thinking was

that Christians should always look happy,

always smiling.

I wasn’t depressed—just not smiling in that photo.

But the man who wrote me that letter

must have forgotten that Isaiah 53:3

describes Jesus as

a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

Isaiah 53:3 prophetically tells us that the Messiah would be

“a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

But there are many in the churches today

who’ve made up their own ‘Eleventh Commandment’

you could call it—

“Thou shalt not be negative.”

So, instead of sympathizing with those who are suffering

they just tell them to cheer up,

and they condemn them if they become depressed.

You must have sin in your life!” is the accusation

they hurl in the face of the person

who is already hurting emotionally.

But Romans 12:15 tells us,

Rejoice with those who rejoice;

weep with those who weep.

Depression can hit all of us—even strong Christians.

To understand our brothers and sisters who are depressed,

and be able to help them—

or even to know what to do when we are depressed—

we need to better understand what causes it.

There are two major types of depression:

situational depression and clinical depression.

They aren’t always easy to distinguish,

and there can be some over-lap.

Situational” means we are saddened by

our situation or circumstances.

The things happening to us, or happening around us,

take away our joy, and make us sad.

That can happen to anyone.

In fact, if bad situations don’t make us sad,

there is probably something wrong with us.

Clinical depression is different from that.

Although severe situational depression

can become clinical depression.

Persistent sadness is considered clinical depression

if it goes on for weeks or months,

or if it results in behavior changes.

It can result from an emotional injury,

or even a physical injury,

or an illness.

More often than not, there isn’t any obvious cause.

There may even be extreme, unexplained mood swings

from giddy happiness to deep depression,

and back again.

That used to be called “manic-depressive psychosis,”

but is called “bipolar” today.

Clinical depression that doesn’t have any obvious cause

in surrounding circumstances

may need to be treated

by trained medical professionals.

So, let’s talk first about situational depression.


It afflicted even God’s prophets

and holy people of old.

The Psalmist wrote Psalm 102 as

A prayer of an afflicted person

who has grown weak

and pours out a lament before the Lord.

And it says in its 4th and 5th Verses,

4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;

I forget to eat my food.

5 In my distress I groan aloud

There was a time in Elijah’s ministry,

when he became discouraged and cried out,

I have had enough Lord, he said. Take my life, I am not better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4

And Jeremiah reached a point where he said,

Cursed be the day I was born…why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” Jerermiah 20:14,18

We, too, can be depressed by our circumstances—

the situation we are in.

In order to escape depression,

we may need to change our circumstances,

if that is possible,

or to change our view or understanding

of our circumstances,

by gaining God’s view from the Bible.

Those depressed disciples on the road to Emmaus

discovered that Jesus was alive,

and that turned their grief to joy.

The situation changed.

Bad situations make us feel bad.

That’s what situational depression is.


So, what do you do about situational depression?

Change the situation!—if you possibly can.

Get away from the circumstances,

or even the other people,

who are making you depressed.

Yes, it may be other people who are giving us grief.

And, if that is the case, we may need

to get away from them.

The patriarch Isaac and his wife Rebekah

lived in an extended family

with two pagan women—

the wives of their older son—

who didn’t love God

and who didn’t live God-fearing lives.

They were making Rebekah’s life miserable.

At Genesis 27:46, we read,

Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I am deeply depressed because of these daughters of Heth. If Jacob were to marry one of these daughters of Heth who live in this land, I would want to die!"

It was her circumstances—her situation

that plunged Rebekah into such deep depression.

But she knew what she had to do about it.

She needed to change who she spent time with.

And she turned to her husband Isaac for help doing that.

She wanted him to find a believing, godly wife

for their younger son, Jacob.

Then she would have better company

people who would not depress her.

If you are in similar circumstances,

you may be able to get out of a depressed state

by changing who you spend time with.

During this time of social distancing, of course,

that may involve who we speak with by phone

or who we watch on TV.

As one translation of 1 Corinthians 15:33 puts it,

Don't fool yourselves.

friends will destroy you.”


That applies, also, to association with spirit persons

who aren’t visible to us,

but who can influence our lives and our moods.

Depression can result from demonic oppression.

And even Christians can expose themselves

to demonic oppression by getting involved with

Satan’s demons through magic, fortune tellers,

horoscopes, Zodiac signs, Ouija boards,

Reiki, acupuncture, Tarot cards, séances,

or other forms of demonic communication.

Leaving such practices,

and turning to the Lord in repentance,

can end that demonic oppression and depression.


But when bad circumstances come upon us

sometimes there’s nothing we can do

but ride it out—

wait for our situation to change.

Then, all we can do is try to adjust our view

and our emotional response to the situation.

The Old Testament Book of Job tells us

how the devil took away from this righteous man

first his wealth, then all his children,

and then his health—

leaving him suffering

from boils and blisters

from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.

Even his wife said to him at Job 2:9,

Are you still holding on to your integrity?

Curse God and die!”

He certainly had reason to be depressed

by his circumstances.

At Job 3:11 he groaned,

Why did I not perish at birth,

and die as I came from the womb?”

At Job 3:26 he said,

I have no peace, no quietness,

I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

At Job 10:1 he cried out,

I loathe my very life,

therefore I will give free rein

to my complaint and

speak out in the bitterness of my soul.”

Job’s depression was so deep that he blamed God,

and said, beginning with Job 30:16,

Depression haunts my days.

17At night my bones are filled with pain,

which gnaws at me relentlessly.

18With a strong hand, God grabs my shirt.

He grips me by the collar of my coat.

19He has thrown me into the mud.

I’m nothing more than dust and ashes.

Job’s depression was caused by his circumstances—

the situation he was in.

He felt God had turned against him,

but he didn’t know that Satan was the one

who gave Job all that grief.

And three Job’s friends didn’t help, either.

They blamed sin in his life,

and tried to add guilt to his depression.

Eventually, God stepped in,

and helped Job get a better view of his situation,

and then God improved his situation—

restoring the blessings he had lost,

and turning his grief to joy.

Job’s story may help us appreciate

that God loves us,

despite what this world does to us,

that our suffering in this world is temporary,

and that God will reward us

with blessings that outweigh our suffering.


But, just as people vary in physical strength

and other characteristics,

people vary in how susceptible they are

to emotional depression.

Some are more easily injured emotionally,

just as some people’s skin bruises more easily

or burns from the sun more easily.

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about,

any more than physical characteristics.

But we need to recognize our own susceptibility

at that of our loved ones.

And some individuals have chemical imbalances

that need to be treated.

Just as high blood pressure and blood sugar levels,

may need chemical adjustment,

so, too, the chemicals in our bodies

that affect our moods.

The body’s production of hormones

can be thrown off balance

by illness or physical injury,

or by changes that take place

during the aging process.

The thyroid gland can be thrown off

by a case of thyroiditis, or by dietary factors,

and that can cause depression.

Allergies, and even medication to treat allergies,

can cause depression.

And so can a number of other medications.

So, prolonged sadness

that doesn’t have an obvious cause

might call for a visit to the doctor,

to see if there is a chemical cause

that needs to be treated.

There should be no shame or embarrassment

when one seeks professional help for depression—

any more than getting help

for a broken bone or an infection.

The medications available for treating depression today

are much better and more effective

than those of years past.

So, suffering depression without seeing a doctor

makes no more sense

than living with physical ailments

without seeking a diagnosis and cure.

Our God can heal miraculously,

and he invites us to pray for healing,

and for all of our needs.

But he also encourages us to do

whatever is in our own power, to help our situation.

The Apostle Paul was used by God

to bring people divine healing.

But Paul also told Timothy at 1 Timothy 5:23

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach

and your frequent illnesses.”

And Paul often took with him on his travels

Doctor Luke,

who he referred to at Colossians 4:14 as

“Luke the beloved physician.”

So, there is nothing wrong with Christians

turning to medicine for help with illness,

whether physical or emotional.


But we don’t need to be suffering from clinical depression

or a chemical imbalance

to be upset and troubled

by the things going on around us

in the world today.

This world is headed for destruction.

The violence and sexual immorality and abortions

and disregard for God that we see today

reminds us of times in the past

when God stepped in

to destroy a corrupt city

or a corrupt nation

or a corrupt world.

If the nightly news gets you down

and leaves you feeling depressed,

you are not alone.

2 Peter 2:7 tells us that Abraham’s nephew Lot

was greatly distressed

by the immoral conduct of lawless people”

of Sodom and Gomorrah, where he was living,

before God intervened to wipe them out.

It may help, if you make a conscious effort

to think about other things

and to focus on more positive things.

Paul wrote at Philippians 4:6, not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Changing our view can help lift us out of depression.

But we also have hope

that God will change the circumstances around us.

Ezekiel 9:4 tells us that, before God destroyed

the corrupt city of Jerusalem in Ezekiel’s day,

he looked to save first

everyone who is distressed and troubled because of all the disgusting things

being done in the city.”

If you are distressed and troubled

because of all the disgusting things

being done in today’s world,

you can have confidence

that God feels the same way about it.

And that God will do something about it.

In Luke Chapter 21 our Lord Jesus spoke

about the time immediately before he will return.

He said people would be

in anguish and perplexity” and that they will be

terrified and

apprehensive of what is coming on the world.”

It would be a depressing time.

But then he said in Verse 28, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

And after that redemption takes place,

Revelation Chapter 21 says,

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.”