God & Depression

The first in a series from Resurgence on God & Depression, from Psalms 42 & 43.

Lost sense of God

The writer of Psalm 42 is a musician and leader in the Jerusalem temple who has somehow been cut off from his home, his friends, and his occupation. Being away from the temple, for him, is being away from God, so he pens a song to express his deep grief.

He starves without the presence of God, which used to be the hallmark of his life as a full-time temple servant. His life is nothing without it, in the same way that life is nothing without water.

This is not because he is unusual — he is exactly like us. The only difference is that he knows what he’s craving.

Read the first post here.

See the series here.


Where did that watch come from?

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case as in the first? For this reason, and for no other, namely, that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive – what we could not discover in the stone – that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g., that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. To reckon up a few of the plainest of these parts and of their offices, all tending to one result; we see a cylindrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which, by its endeavour to relax itself, turns round the box. We next observe a flexible chain – artificially wrought for the sake of flexure – communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fusee [a wheel upon which a watch chain is wound and which equalises the power of the mainspring]. We then find a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in and apply to each other, conducting the motion from the fusee to the balance and from the balance to the pointer, and at the same time, by the size and shape of those wheels, so regulating that motion as to terminate in causing an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a given space in a given time. We take notice that the wheels are made of brass, in order to keep them from rust; the springs of steel, no other metal being so elastic; that over the face of the watch there is placed a glass, a material employed in no other part of the work, but in the room of which, if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not be seen without opening the case. This mechanism being observed – it requires indeed an examination of the instrument, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have said, observed and understood – the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker—that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.

Paley, W., Natural Theology ch. 1; in The Works of William Pale


5 This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:

6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,

7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Isaiah 42:5 – 7

A secular marriage??

I was having a conversation last night about marriage in which I made the claim that there is no such thing as a secular marriage.  Here’s my explanation –

The marriage relationship is the shadow of the ultimate marriage of Christ and his bride, the church. At its very essence marriage is about God and it brings into being a relationship which is a reflection of his love for his bride.

Even a marriage (including civil unions) between people who deny God take this relationship and mimic it (albeit with distortions). They may deny that marriage as an institution is rooted in who God is, but their denial doesn’t make it any less factual.

There is no marriage that is nothing to do with God, because without God, marriage does not exist.

Am I wrong??

Continue to do good…

I happened to be flicking through 1 Peter tonight and was struck by this amazing verse –

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

In my experience committing myself to my faithful creator becomes harder and harder as life becomes harder and harder, and I want more and more control. Until I realise I can’t control anything and have no option but to commit myself to God.

Until them continuing to do good is impossible.

Happiness vs Joy


In one of the talks at Engage this year one of the speakers said this –

Happiness is a cheap toy. Joy is an unbelievably powerful force. God is ferocious for your joy, but happiness is fickle.

Happiness is a cheap toy. I can’t tell you how much I am seeing this to be true at the moment. The search for happiness in this world can so terribly lead to disappointment, loneliness and sadness.

But what exactly is the difference between happiness and joy. My dictionary say that joy is showing happiness but I think the bible speaks of a different kind of joy and so I would like to take some time to look at what the bible tells us about joy.

James 1 says this

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Joy in the face of trials seems to suggest that this joy is not dependent on happiness. So what is it? Lets start by looking at the reason we are to have joy – because the testing of our faith develops perseverance. Perseverance is mentioned as a characteristic of the Christian life by Jesus (Luke 8:15; 21:19) and Paul (Romans 5:3-4; 8:25; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 12:12).

The first person to have his faith tested was Abraham (Genesis 22) who was greatly rewarded by God for his faithfulness. We too shall be rewarded for our faithfulness. Testing of this leads to perseverance.

And while perseverance is good, its not the prize. It has its own effect, which is that you may be made mature and complete. The Greek word that is translated in NIV as ‘mature’ has a sense of meeting the highest standard and could also be translated as ‘perfect’. It is the same word that is used in Matthew 5:48 when Jesus says ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’. The effect of perseverance is a God-like character. That is the prize here.

We are to find joy in our trials because they make us more like God. This kind of joy requires us to have a perspective that looks beyond the here and now, and instead looks to an eternal reward. The eternal perspective is what drives us to faithfulness and perseverance.

Happiness is fickle because this world is fickle. Joy is powerful because true joy comes from an eternal perspective.

More soon.

What does God have to do with depression??


Depression reminds Christians of three important things.

1. Things are not as they should be

God made a perfect world, and humans screwed it up. Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden means that now we all live in a world which is fallen from its good state. Romans 8:23 tells us that creation itself joins us as we inwardly groan, as we wait for this to be fixed.  In the meantime there are consequences and experiences that come from living in this fallen world. Depression is one of them.

2. We are not in control

Depression is not something that should or can be handled by yourself. If you ever believed the myth that we can handle ANYTHING without God, depression (either suffering it yourself or seeing someone you know go through it) will dispel that myth with ease. The apostle Paul was reminded of this by his own ailment. When he pleaded with the Lord to take it away the Lord replied “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. 2 Corinthians 12:9 All things can be handled with God, and nothing can be handled without him.

3. The Christian life is one of faith

Even though Ephesians repeatedly tells us that we are saved by grace, through faith not by works, if we were honest I think we often live like we are saved by works. Rather than living by faith we live on the experience of good things and good feelings. These experiences and feelings often aren’t there when you are suffering from depression. So it’s important to remember that our feelings and experiences are not what makes up God’s love. We don’t have to feel it for it to be there.

More on this soon.

Lifeline Australia (24 hr hotline – 13 11 14)

To Write Love on Her Arms


Black Dog Institute

More from me on depression here.

Two interesting quotes…

Both of these I have read today in the course of studying for exams.

From Anthony Weston’s A Rulebook for Arguments

Similarly, religious moralists often have declared that certain practices are wrong because they are contrary to the will of God. We should reply God ought to be spoken for a little more cautiously. God’s will is not easy to ascertain, and when God speaks so softly it is easy to confuse that “still small voice” with our own personal prejudices.

A little earlier I had read this –

He was in the world, and the world was created through him yet the world did not recognise him. He came to his own people who did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children on God.[…] No-one has ever seen God. The one and only Son – the one who is at the Father’s side – he has revealed him.

Want to hear God speak loudly? Jesus is the answer.

The Screwtape Letters

I have recently started reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis. If you have not read it, I definitely recommend it. It is a series of letters written from the devil Screwtape to his newphew Wormwood, in which Screwtape is coaching his nephew in how to successfully lure his ‘patients’ (mankind) away from the Enemy (God).

I am about half way through and came across a paragraph which, in a strange way, is a beautiful description of God’s love for us and our true selves in him.

‘Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember always, that he really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When he talks of their losing their selves, he only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, he really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly his they will be more themselves than ever.’