How does God bring his servants out of depression? We’ve noted how the Lord hears Elijah’s complaints, gives him work to commission his successor, and reminds him of his unseen support. Likewise, the Lord allows Jonah to pour out his resentment, and reminds him of his concern for Jonah–and for the lost. In other ways, the Lord also shows himself ready to help Job, Jeremiah, and Paul.
The Lord allows Job time to express his deepest grievances. Recovery takes longer, it seems, than with Jonah or Elijah, and the Lord receives a great deal of Job’s verbal abuse. Some people would say the Lord deserves it. To Job, God shows himself absent, silent, and, in a contradictory way, hostile. The Lord allows Job to exhaust all his ammunition, before he steps in to confront Job (and us) with the inadequacy of his perspective on suffering.
Jeremiah’s lamentation and curse on his life in Chapter 20 for the misery brought by his call resemble Job’s Chapter Three curses and lamentation. The chapter records Jeremiah’s beating and imprisonment in stocks, and, because they failed to heed God’s call, his renewed prediction of doom on his people. He expresses confidence in God’s presence with him “like a mighty warrior” (v. 11), and sings a psalm of praise (v. 13). The passage (vv. 14-18) stands alone. Without comment, the Lord, it seems, allows Jeremiah’s complaint to stand. Perhaps that helps Jeremiah overcome his depressed mood. Maybe some questions just need asking.
In II Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul writes of “hardships,” and “great pressure far beyond our ability to endure.” He says the purpose of his despair was to show him the folly of trusting in his own strength. Instead, he learns again to trust the resurrection power of Christ. Remembering we serve a “God who raises the dead” helps him overcome his despondency. Could it also help us?
Next blog we’ll explore what these Biblical examples mean for us.