A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression.
Let’s talk about Job. Not Steve Job. Not your working job. Yes, THAT Job. The guy that suffered unspeakable evil and loss.
No one likes to think about Job. You know his story. Satan appears before God and is given the opportunity to do everything evil and bad to Job imaginable except to kill him. Job undergoes horrendous tragedy after tragedy and is admonished by his family and friends to “curse God and die”. Why don’t we like to think about Job? Because all of us have tragedies and suffering in our lives. And, none of us wants to think that a loving and benevolent God is allowing these horrible things to happen to good people like us.
The age old question of evil and suffering has fueled the doubts of Christians and the arguments of atheists for centuries. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to attend an apologetics conference here in Shreveport, Louisiana by BIOLA University. I have high respect for BIOLA. I received my Certificate of Apologetics from BIOLA.
I was really looking forward to meeting and hearing from one of my favorite apologists, J. P. Moreland, but it would seem this “good” man was suffering from a “bad” development and his flight to our area was cancelled. He did not make it. But, I did get to hear an incredible presentation on evil and suffering by Dr. Clay Jones. I don’t have space or time to share what I learned from his incredible presentation. But, for fellow sufferers of depression there was something profound God showed me.
You see, several weeks ago, I learned I was now fully diabetic. I’ve been pre-diabetic for a long time but my weight and poor health finally pushed me over the line. My wife and daughter and I were at the nursing home visiting her mother when I got the call from my doctor. I was devastated and sobbed for two hours. I am a doctor. I know too much about the complications from diabetes and at the age of 60, I am far too young to suffer from the complications of this disease for the rest of my life. In fact, the following hours of despair and darkness were almost as bad as my depressive episode twenty years ago that led to my part of the two books Mark Sutton and I wrote on depression. Later that evening, Sherry’s mother passed away around midnight. That Wednesday was a double whammy for all of us!
In the days that followed trying to struggle through the funeral and a Conquering Depression Seminar that Saturday, I felt sorry for me. I wanted to have the world’s biggest pity party. I was angry. I was depressed. I wanted to just go ahead and die and not suffer from the complications of my disease.
And then, I went to the lecture by Dr. Jones and he talked about Job. I guess we all a need a kick in the pants to realize there will always be someone who has greater suffering than what we are currently experiencing. No one can every outdo Job, for that matter. And, here is where Dr. Jones really opened my eyes. He shared a very personal story about his own brush with a deadly disease and he talked about his first response was to take his wife’s hands and share a prayer of thanksgiving. Not thanking God for the illness. But, thanking God for being THERE with them through this ordeal. He looked out over the audience and said, “When you respond to suffering and tragedy by turning immediately to God, you humiliate Satan. God gets to see another strike against the adversary. But, if you give in to bitterness and anger and hatred and other negative emotions, Satan rejoices and claims a small victory.”
Wow! My face grew warm and my heart raced and tears began to stream down my cheeks. I had given Satan the victory in my revelation about this illness. I had sobbed and pitied myself and lashed out at the world for this “injustice”. And then, I recalled a prayer. For the past couple of years I had prayed this prayer: “God, I need to be more healthy and lose weight and I pray for my health that you would lead me into a healthier lifestyle. BUT, don’t do it by making me get sicker or have a health crisis.” Yes, I had put qualifiers on God again! This action on my part has become one of my failings. Here, God, is my prayer. Answer it please. But, answer me MY way!
God answered my prayer that Wednesday. But, he ignored my conditions. Thank goodness! If God answered all of our prayers in exactly the way we want Him to, we would be in so much trouble. Look at Job. God restored Job after so much loss but Job had to suffer in a way he could never imagine.
And so, thanks to Dr. Jones, I now can stop every time I “suffer” and thank God that He is there to see me through the suffering. And, in doing that, I slap Satan silly! I know it is hard but sometimes we just have to muscle through the suffering and remember to say, “Though He slay me, still I will love Him.” And, remember, the suffering of Job was nothing compared to the suffering that came from the greatest evil this world has every known, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. And out of that evil came the ultimate good! Our salvation!