August 11, 2014, will be a day that we will not easily forget. That is when Robin Williams took his life by asphyxiation. Such sad news about a much loved and admired actor and comedian shocked the country and the world. How could a man who brought so much laughter and joy to everyone have been so tormented?
The answer is reportedly that he had been suffering for years from deep depression, worsened by the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. His dwelling in a spiritually black place took him captive and threw away the key. If only he could have clung to the hope of being free someday, if only someone had spoken the right word at the right time, if only someone had made contact with him before that climatic moment…if only. Now all we have left is regret.
Depression is a common malady that has mantled mankind for millennia. The Bible, in fact, cites stories of several people who were plagued by it. How did these people overcome it? Let’s look at one man in particular.
To me, the man who stands out the most is Job. He lost his ten children, his cattle and flocks, most of his servants, and even his health. His friends accused him of having some hidden or unknown sin he had committed–or else why would God punish such a righteous man like that?
But Job did not curse God—in fact, he blessed Him in the midst of his trials.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of The Lord” (Job 1:21 NAS).
Even his own wife argued against him as she passionately cried out, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 3:8 NAS).
Could Job’s wife have been suggesting that Job deny God by taking his own life? Here is how he responded to her prompting on that point:
“You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this, Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10 NAS).
As Job searched for answers from God about why he had to suffer and be punished for no apparent reason, he pushed aside the negativity from his wife and his friends. It paid off. God replied by questioning Job, zeroing in on how proud Job was of his carefully manicured righteousness. He felt that being righteous somehow exempted him from calamity, almost as if he were God’s “teacher’s pet.” I’m sure Job didn’t expect to be raked over the coals as God addressed him.
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you and you instruct me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.” (Job 38:3-4 NAS).
After four chapters of intense questioning that shamed Job speechless, God made His point. Job understood just how small he was in comparison and showed his humility by repenting of his rebellion.
“Hear now, and I will speak; I will ask Thee, and do Thou instruct me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees Thee; Therefore, I retract and I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:4-6 NAS).
Initially, Job didn’t know that God had taken His hand of protection away for a short time to allow Satan to prove Job’s character. Satan had been permitted to do whatever he chose, short of taking Job’s life. As a result of Job’s spiritual tenacity, the test ended and God’s hedge of protection was once again tucked snugly around him and his family.
The story closes with a glorious symphony of love and restoration. Not only did God restore all of Job’s wealth, but He also increased it twice over. He had the comfort of the love of his friends and family restored, and God blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. Sheep, camels, oxen, and female donkeys were multiplied back to him by the thousands.
And best of all, the Lord gave him ten more children—seven sons and three beautiful daughters. His life was extended for 140 more years, and he lived to see four generations of his grandchildren.
God went above and beyond to bless Job at the end of his trial. His days of black depression were replaced by sublime joy.
So what is the remedy for depression? How do we work through it and not let it overwhelm us when we are living in those dark days that seem like they will never end?
Job’s belief in God is what strengthened him so he could persevere and come out on the other side. His strong faith was the gate to his supernatural encounter with the God he had always believed in. Seen or not, God had always been present in Job’s life through the good times and the bad.
What if…you met God?
Simple. Meeting God personally is available to everyone. He is found in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who died on the cross for the sins of all mankind.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16 NAS).
And another verse says,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NAS).
Job discovered that a personal relationship with God is the answer to all of life’s trials. Our faith doesn’t eliminate our trials, but the Lord will victoriously take us through them.
Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 NAS).