Jump Start # 2250
Psalms 46:10 “Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Cease striving. Other translations express this simply as, “Be still.” You can hear a mother telling her busy and fussy child to sit still. Be still is hard for many of us. We want to be right in the thick of things. We want to run things. Sitting still and allowing God to be God is hard.
I read a report recently about the large numbers of Americans regularly taking antidepressants. More than 12% of the population and more staggering by age, those over 60, 19% take antidepressants. The same report also indicated that it’s hard to stop using antidepressants once a person has started.
One thing that the Bible hardly touches at all is the subject of mental issues. Jesus talked about being anxious or worry. Paul admitted to being depressed but was refreshed and encouraged when God sent Titus to him. And, in the Old Testament, King Saul seemed to lose it completely when he became obsessed with killing David. His mental stability appears to be very shaky and volatile. Demon possession wasn’t a mental problem. Demons were real spirits that inhabited a person. They were cast out miraculously by the hand of God.
But today, things seem so different. There are layers and layers of various psychological and mental issues, some even getting into serious mental illness. And, according to the current stats, as a person grows older, these things get worse, not better. I’m baffled by these things. It’s hard to put a finger on why in the past decade there has been a huge increase in the use of prescription drugs to deal with life’s issues.
Here are a few thoughts:
First, because a person needs antidepressants does not mean he is “crazy.” There are a lot of chemical imbalances that can take place within a person and often medicine can help even out those imbalances.
Second, we see with this specific situation, that we do not always find common examples in our Bibles. We do not find anyone using antidepressants in the Bible, mostly because as we know them today, they weren’t invented. In fact, aside from Paul telling Timothy to take some wine for his stomach ailments, we do not read hardly anything in the Bible about medicine. The Bible isn’t a history book of the times. It is God’s word for us to live righteously and to prepare ourselves for Heaven. The absence of information or lack of example does not mean something is right or wrong.
Thirdly, and I say this delicately, in a secular society, secular doctors are going to prescribe medicines more often than expect us to walk by faith. Life is hard. Storms come. There are days we have to go visit the funeral home. There are days when our journeys take us through the dark valleys of death. Maybe medicine can calm us. Maybe it can help us to be functional and stable. But maybe, just maybe, there are times we must rely upon the Lord to get us through. I wonder sometimes if our lives are built upon medicine and not upon the rock, which is Jesus. I have heard people say, “I couldn’t get through a day without my medicine.” I’d much rather hear, “I couldn’t get through the day without Jesus.” And, I understand that I do not understand much of this. I’m just a preacher, but I’m seeing less and less relying on faith, patience and having the courage to endure and more and more talk about having to take medicine in order to cope and get through. Medicine needed to sleep. Medicine needed to get going. Medicine needed to have the right attitude and be in a good mood. It just seems like a lot of medicine. How did folks get by before this age of medicine? How did they do it in the first century?
Fourth, I wonder if the breakdown of the home, the empty lives and the lack of true Biblical faith has led to so much of the mental issues in our country. So many of the mass shootings have come from unstable and violent people getting guns and then killing as many as they can. Why does a person think that way? It doesn’t just happen. There has been a long and gradual process of contributing factors that have included not valuing life, not respecting authority, and not thinking Biblically nor correctly.
Fifth, it’s hard for me to understand why the 60 and over crowd are the largest group using antidepressants. By this time in life, you have experienced ups and downs. You have seen good and bad. You have journeyed long enough that you ought to have learned a few things and figured out a few things. Is it because this group is aging, hurting and the outer man is decaying. What these stats indicate is that the outer man decays and the inner man is decaying as well. We are not being renewed day by day as Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 4.. We are not getting better on the inside. The outside is shaping the inside. Again, a lifetime without God and a lifetime of always being in charge and now the nearing of death, probably has many folks scared, uncertain and anxious. It ought to. The answer is not in a pill but in Jesus Christ. It may just be we are witnesses houses collapse that have been built upon sand for decades. The reality now comes and some just do not know what to do.
Again, let me say this so no one misunderstands. For some people, there is a real need for medicine to help them. The imbalance is so great that without medicine they could not function. That’s true of some, but is it true for all of us?
I think of the song, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” Life will slap you. Life can be ugly. Things can be complicated and difficult. Look what Paul went through. Look at David when chased throughout the country by Saul. We will face our Goliaths. The world will not agree nor like us. Life is not fair, nor nice. Young people die. Those that are doing right are not recognized. Satan won’t leave us alone. The world is telling us to blend in and be like it. Some days the journey seems long and lonely. It’s not a pill that will get us through but Jesus. Be still and know that I am God. Mediate. Read Scriptures. Pray. Focus upon the Lord. Count your blessings. Get out of your cave and go do something in the kingdom, as God told Elijah. Rather than holding our hands and telling us that it’s ok, what we often need is a kick in the pants and a command from God to get about doing what He wants us to do.
Faith. That’s what much of this comes down to. Are our times so much more difficult than other times? I wonder about my sweet grandma. She had two sons, one was my dad. Both boys, one in the army and the other in the marines, were off to the other side of the world fighting in WW II. No communications. She had no idea where they were. But many families were just like that. What she did was attend worship weekly and pray diligently. Her boys both came home. That wasn’t the case for so many of her neighbors. Some families got through those times and others never did. But go back even further. Middle Europe and massive plagues that took thousands of lives. Go back more. Babylonian captivity. Egyptian oppression. How did people make it? Some did and others didn’t. Mostly, those that did, it was by faith. That is the constant through the ages.
Now, here we are. Nothing has changed. How are we going to get through these times? By faith.
My hope is built upon nothing else…