We started this study because of the tragic death of Robin Williams in the news. Depression can lead to suicide - but it doesn't need to. One day in the future we will post about suicide from a Christian viewpoint in this column.
We have pondered some causes, the symptoms, and today let us seek to respond to depression.
A great picture of a person depressed in the Scriptures is the great prophet Elijah. This towering man of God shows that anyone can be vulnerable to this disorder at some time in their life. He has just come off of a spiritual victory over the false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. He stood against 450 and saw God vindicate what he has said. Now, Jezabel threatens his life - and he runs away. He focused on the situation instead of his God. As he ran, he sank deeper and deeper into a depressed state - so low that he actually sought God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4).
From the Bible for Hope* we find that this can be called the HALT syndrome. At Elijah's lowest point he was - Hungry - he had stopped eating. Angry - actually at God feeling He was not caring for him. Lonely - he left his servant and went out all by himself. And, Tired - we see him collapse into a deep sleep. any time that a person exhibits an intense combination of these characteristics - they are vulnerable for depression.
We see that God counteracted every one of these characteristics in Elijah's life. He feed him, He sent an Angel to show him he was not alone. The sleep helped to remedy the need for rest. This reminds us of having a real and personal relationship with God. Because of his relationship, Elijah could focus upon God and listen to what He had to say. Elijah recognized God's voice and was able to return in a renewed and strengthened personhood.
Today, as I have been known for years to say, there are two things that you need to do every day - Read your Bible, and Pray. This helps to establish and maintain that close connection with the Father - so that the strength and encouragement we need can come from Him.
The tragic suicide of Robin Williams - based apparently upon his depression need not happen to anyone else. Help a person to find that close personal relationship with the Father - and then be there to help them in their dark valley.
* Clinton, Tim editor. 2001. The Bible for Hope (Caring for People God's Way). Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishing pg. 780-781.