Depression and Suicide

A great deal has been made of the death of 63-year old actor and comedian Robin Williams. The entertainer took his life by means of hanging himself from a belt attached to a closet door in his bedroom. He thought that life wasn’t worth living anymore because he suffered from depression and was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Robin Williams, of course, was not the only one who battled depression and committed suicide as a result. Many people both famous and unknown have felt so miserable that they have either ended their lives or seriously considered doing so. Christians too can fall victim depression. Elijah, for example, felt extremely sad after killing the 450 prophets of Baal by the brook Kidron and proving that Jehovah is God after the Lord sent down fire to burn his sacrifice on an altar on Mount Carmel.He even told God “it is enough; O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers”(1 Kings 19:4). His sadness and even depression was due to the fact that he felt all alone. Elijah was afraid that Jezebel was going to have him killed for what he had done. He thought that he was the only one who cared for the ways of God. The Lord told him that there were 7,000 other people who had “…not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). All of God’s people, even those who are considered to the be wisest have battled depression. What is depression? It is defined as being a chemical imbalance in the brain. There are certain chemicals that affect the way the brain processes and responds to emotions. Symptoms can include loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed, weight loss or gain, and sleeplessness among other things. Sometimes depression is the result of sin. David felt depressed after Absalom and Adonijah, his own sons, attempted to overthrow him and died in the process. He was also deeply saddened when the first child born after his affair with Bathsheba died. These coups and the death of his newborn son were the consequences of his murder of Uriah and adultery with Bathsheba. Job, on the other hand, was depressed because he had lost all his children, his friends didn’t have any comforting words for him and his wife told him to “…curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). In addition he became significantly ill when boils broke out all over his body. In his afflictions he complained that God wasn’t treating him fairly. While God showed him that he was wrong and Job repented, he still faced trials that tested his faith and left him greatly discouraged. Ultimately God restored Job his health, his family, and his earthly possessions. Sometimes God uses the afflictions that we experience in life to draw us closer to Him and to test our trust in him. Robin Williams did not have faith in God. He was a wealthy actor who had everything that heart could wish and then some. He owned, among other things, an extensive bicycle collection. Ultimately, his wealth and possessions didn’t save and certainly did not earn him a spot in heaven. What Robin Williams didn’t know or have the assurance of is that “…godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:6,7). What he did in committing suicide was wrong for two reasons. First, it was selfish. Ending one’s own life in such a way shows that he thought only about himself and not the affect such a death would have on family and friends. Secondly, suicide is sin. It is unlawfully ending the life that God gave you to live. If you as a young person or young adult are experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide, talk to your pastor. Don’t end your life in such a disastrous way! What about the Christian? The Christian, unlike the wicked, can still have peace, contentment, and joy, even in the midst of depression. How is this possible? It is only experienced by the grace and holy spirit of God. It can’t be found in earthly prosperity. It can’t be found in the writings of Joel Osteen and others like him who promise a life almost free of pain and affliction. It can only be found in God. May we as young people look to God for grace as we go through our trials in life, including depression. When we look to Him, He will give us the peace and contentment that we seek.
Kevin Rau

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