Note: This post, written by Brent Anderson (a youth leader at AEFC) answers a question asked for Elephant Room; "Is depression a sin?"
by brent anderson
Many people, including teens, struggle with depression. Some people would say that if you are depressed you are not relying on God and have a lack of faith. There are many understandings and levels to depression. Depression is often simply defined as a period of time with extended sadness. Being depressed in itself is not a sin.
There are 3 major sources that can lead to Depression. A physical or heretical state that comes from a chemical imbalance or tendency to be depressed, an un-confessed sin , and/or an event in which a person could experience a significant loss. Understanding the source of your sadness can help to treat and work through the depression most effectively.
There are many people in the Bible that struggled with sadness possibly to the point of depression. King David, who was one of the most famous biblical kings, recorded his sadness in Psalms 56:8. Moses (also a prominent person of the Christian faith) expressed his sadness to God in Numbers 11:15. On earth we are in a fallen broken world. And Jesus said there would be sadness until we are restored with him in Heaven. When feeling extreme sadness we must recognize God’s sufficiency in every issue or situation. A great chapter in the Bible that brings many comfort and joy in difficult times is Psalms 91. There are many other encouraging references throughout the Bible.
Depression is very real, and when feeling depressed, it is always recommended to find people that can help to work through the different causes of depression.
Remember Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
by ashley roemer
As Christians, we all have those daily moments of prayer--especially when we’re asking for an immediate response from God. “Lord, be with me as I take this history test.” “Father, give me the strength I need to get through practice today.” “I pray for wisdom as I talk with my friend today.” Sometimes it feels like the request is small and maybe even unnoticed by our Heavenly Father, but I trust His word.
“Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
“And this is the confidence we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” I John 5:14
I know I have often relied on these “simple” prayers to help me through a stressful week (or day...or hour). I love the sense of peace God provides in these moments. I believe this peace comes from my willingness to trust God with my struggle, allowing Him to have full control over my situation. I remember competing collegiately in high jump, and I think I said a prayer before every jump: “Lord, calm my nerves.” “God, please give me the strength to clear this next bar.” “I don’t know if I can do this, but I trust in your strength!” I also remember many bus rides after track meets, and all the time I had to think and reflect on my performance. I remember almost feeling guilty for the many “simple” prayers I prayed. Is this really what prayer is about? There are so many hurting people in the world, and I’m asking the God of the universe to help me clear the next height at a track meet?!
It was in these moments I would redirect my purpose for competing in sports in the first place. My goal in life, since becoming a follower of Christ, has been to glorify God in all that I do. Reminding myself of this perspective allowed me to praise God for the athletic ability He chose to gift me with, and in turn, glorify Him by crediting any strength and success to Him. God wants to hear our prayers as we rely on Him rather than our own strength. God wants to be an active part of our lives--He loves us and desires to have a relationship with us.
But what about the “big” prayers? The prayers we’re often afraid to even pray because we don’t know if our desire truly fits in with God’s will for our lives.
“God, I pray for my future spouse (if it’s Your will I get married someday…)”
“Lord, help me determine which college I should go to (if it’s Your will I even go to college…)”
“Father, I ask that you would save my family member who is struggling with sin and doesn’t even know of their need for You (if it’s Your will to save them…)”
Having salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ does not mean we will live an easy, stress-free life. In fact, Jesus Himself tells us in His Word that we will have struggles.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We will have trouble. We will. But the encouraging news is that we do not face the trouble alone. In praying these “big” prayers in my own life, I have learned that God will bring us discernment about our desires. If we feel we have a strong desire, and this desire aligns with scripture as being something God would approve for our lives, we then need to have confirmation from other believers. If these are in check, keep praying for that desire in your heart. But keep in mind--God may not allow this desire to be fulfilled…
Think back to the story of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar demands that all people worship his idols, and Daniel’s friends refuse out of their commitment and dedication to the one true God. As a result, the three men are cast into a fiery furnace. I can only begin to imagine what their “BIG” prayer sounded like in this moment of desperation! I love these verses because they speak so much truth into what our attitude should be like in every prayer we pray.
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” Daniel 3:16-18
These men knew that God may deliver them out of their trial, or He may choose not to rescue them. They knew it was ultimately God’s choice. In this life or death moment, these men trusted in God’s sovereignty over their desire. How about us? Think about your “big” prayers and the healthy desires you have in your heart. As you continue to pray for these desires to be fulfilled in your life, ask yourself, “Am I willing to trust God to decide my destiny, all the while remaining faithful to Him?” God may choose to fulfill your desire, and for that He will continue to be worthy of our praise! On the other hand, God may choose not to fulfill the desire. Will we remember that He is sovereign and knows what is best for our lives?
In the “simple” prayers, and the “big” prayers, God may provide the answers we’re hoping for.
And if not, He is still good.
by peter strand
Music puts me in a good mood. Scientific studies show that listening to music can create peak emotions and induces joy and happiness through neurological processes. Music “can evoke the deepest emotions in people and help us process fear, grief, sadness, and resentment, even if these emotions are held on a subconscious level.” Music, in sum, is powerful and does things for us, not only in the physical/emotional sense, but also in a spiritual sense.
Now before you dismiss the words "spiritual sense" as sounding kinda strange, let me clarify: Music gives us one method to worship our Creator. You probably realized that after the first few times you ever sang in a church service or at youth group. Music brings joy; and therefore is an excellent way to worship God, who gives us that joy. It brings us before his throne and allows us to express our adoration and gratefulness for His character, His Word, and His love.
But, what you may not realize is that worship is much more than just singing Chris Tomlin songs in church on Sunday mornings. To get a better understanding of this, I want to talk about two things: what worship is, and what worship does.
What Worship is:
Worship can be defined as the response of a person’s heart to God and an expression of praise to him and his worthiness. We will talk about three things that worship is:
· Relational – Third, worship is to be relational. Emotion can be expressed. Worship is a time in which we can blatantly announce, “God, you’re so great!” God calls us to express love and adoration for Him as our Creator King. Essentially, your relationship with God is not a one-sided conversation. This relationship is based upon two things: Speaking and Giving. God speaks to us through His Word, the Bible, as well as the Holy Spirit. In the same way, we should speak to God through prayer (which is also another type of worship). Similarly, God gives to us what we need, and even some things we want. He loves us and wants what’s best for us. Because of this, we must give back to God through our time, tithes, and talents, and also worship.
What Worship Does:
So, the next time you find yourself singing another Chris Tomlin song at church or in youth group, remember what worship is, and what it can do for you: it is an expression of praise, love, and admiration for our Heavenly Father.
by markus yager
Thanks for the question! This is a more complex question than first appears, and so it requires a multilevel answer. The short version is this: Hezekiah’s prayer was effective because God graciously uses the prayers of His people to accomplish His sovereign plan. We can unpack this further by looking at four biblical truths and how they apply to this passage.
Biblical truths to consider:
Again, in short the answer is that in God’s sovereign, unchanging plan He graciously uses the prayers of His people to accomplish His will. So Hezekiah’s prayer was effective, not as a good work, but as an appeal to God’s grace and mercy and His promise to relent when His people appeal to him in faith and repentance. As we see as the passage continues, Hezekiah was not the blameless man He pretended to be. Even so, God graciously honors His prayer for Healing - not out of necessity because of Hezekiah’s good works, but because God is a God of grace.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will He keep His anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.