“Bear one another’s burdens,” Galatians 6:1
It seems that I have had a lot of depressed people around me lately, and it’s getting to be a drag. I’m quite sure that God has everyone of them in my life for a reason – which is first and foremost the gospel. By saying it’s a drag, I mean that it’s easy to get sucked into their gloom.
Here’s the thing I learned a long time ago: we have choices to make and those choices have consequences. When it come to mental health, I’ve been in bad places with no hope. I know what anxiety and depression are. In my humble opinion, I believe they are simply coping mechanisms of choice.
Booze was mine; and lest you think I’m better than the depressed person, let it be known that my dependency on alcohol almost killed me. Twice. I know quite a bit about being helpless in my sin. Indeed, the wages of sin is death.
Alcohol was a choice. So is depression. You might argue that depression is a chemical imbalance. So is alcoholism. Look, our thoughts are nothing more than chemical reactions that can be influenced by our thoughts. If I want to break my booze addiction, I must somehow change the way I think.
You may say that some depression starts out as a chemical imbalance. Yes, that happens. Some people do have a chemical imbalance and that is why they are depressed. However, as soon as they know there is help and deny it, they have made a choice.
Alcoholism may require medical attention and even in-patient treatment; but sooner or later I’m going to need to learn to deal with life if I’m going to stay sober. Is it any different with anxiety or depression? Short answer: No.
Ultimately, man will never fill the hole in his soul without Jesus. Even so, the unbeliever can live a sober life. S/he can learn to live without depression and anxiety. Look, I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous is ultimately a tool of the world rather than of Christ; however, I cannot deny that millions have found sobriety through the program.
How do I deal with this? Can I, in good conscience, refer someone to AA knowing that, ultimately, it is doing the work of a false teacher in that it denies the deity of Christ?
I suppose that Jesus faced this same problem. He fed thousands. Why? Because he had compassion on them. He preached the gospel before and afterwards, knowing even beforehand that none would obey him. Even so, he fed them.
I guess I can share the gospel, like Jesus did. If they reject it, I can still have compassion and point them to relief. I can tell them that they are still headed down the wrong path, but that at least it will be an easier than the one they are on.
Choices. We all have choices. The alcoholic has a choice to go to treatment. The depressed person can get help. To stay drunk or depressed is a choice.
My choice, today, is whether I will let all the depressed people drag me down. I am sharing the gospel, but I feel the weight of their gloom. I could easily get depressed, too, with the thought of so many people suffering. Or, I can stay tight with my God and let his joy burst through my heart!
To do that, I will need to make a choice – make a choice and take action. I’ll need to pray. I’ll need to read my bible. I’ll need to share my burden with others. I cannot do this on my own. I need God and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The world may go to AA, but I’ll do it the way my bible teaches.
Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Father, I thank you for your holy book that teaches me to study your word all the time for all situations. In it, I find Jesus. In it, I find eternal life. Amen.