On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Jesus: Our Model for Dealing with Depression
Apr. 20, 2014
Gethsemane is where no miracles happen. Sorrow sits like a leaden blanket on Jesus’ heart. J.B. Phillips’ translation states, Jesus “began to be horror-stricken and desperately depressed.”
Jesus then told Peter, James and John that His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. The Greek text has one word for “overwhelmed with sorrow” — perilupos. This word can be used to describe a tight-fitting girdle — Jesus was encompassed (or literally, girded about or surrounded) with sorrow.
Too often we associate depression as something akin to sin. And it may shock us to describe the Lord as depressed. But isn’t that what depression is — a deep sadness, a being overwhelmed with sorrow or grief? Luke tells us Jesus’ sorrow was so great He was in “anguish” and “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Gethsemane is clearly one of the lowest moments in Jesus’ earthly experience. His way of dealing with overwhelming sorrow provides a five-step pathway out of depression.
Jesus did not isolate himself.
He let others into the inner circle of His apprehension, trouble and grief. Too many believers have imprisoned themselves by treating their depression as a deep, dark secret that cannot be talked about with others. Jesus openly revealed His sadness to His closest and most trusted friends. Do you?
Jesus did not put on a mask.
He avoided the trap of saying to himself, “I am the Son of God, and therefore, I cannot let anyone know the trial I am going through.” He did not pretend to be happy when He was not. He verbalized what He was experiencing. Do you have anyone to talk to when you are feeling low?
He did not try to handle His problems without the Father’s presence, comfort and help. In the privacy of Gethsemane’s garden, He poured out His heart to His Father. He exemplified for us the power of accepting the things either we cannot or should not change when He said, “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). Are you praying for God to help you accept what has been thrust on you?
Jesus did not dissipate His strength with bitterness or blame.
Even the failure of His closest friends to stay awake and pray with Him did not deter Jesus from a right spirit and continued prayer. Are you keeping a sweet spirit in a difficult season?
Jesus rose to action.
Events of life can momentarily paralyze or even cause people to flee in the wrong direction. Jesus could have abandoned the way to the cross by quickly leaving Gethsemane, ascending the Mount of Olives and disappearing like David in a southeastern direction into the Judean wilderness. Instead, from His place of sorrow He rose to face what confronted Him.
Jesus is able to empathize with us in our sorrows because He has been sorrowful himself.
What would you be doing today if you were not depressed? The challenge is to go ahead and do it anyway. May the Lord give you strength to face your difficulties and not run from them. Remember, the same wind that uproots a tree can lift a bird because the opposing force becomes a lifting force if faced in the right direction.
A prayer of response
On Your Mark