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Tuesday: Running Away — 19 Comments

  1. While the lesson today discusses depression, we could also include mental illness. My father had an episode of clinical depression towards the end of his life and dealing with that was very difficult. Part of the problem is that we live in different countries now and it would have been even more traumatic for everyone concerned to move my parents closer to us. More recently my mother-in-law had a breakdown and ended up being treated in hospital. We were close enough to drive up and be with her, but her first words to us when she saw us were, "Get away from me Satan, I know you are only apparitions of Maurice and Carmel trying to deceive me!" Nothing we said would convince her that we were really there beside her bed and wanted to help her. It took several days and a lot of patience on the part of the medical staff to bring her back to a sense of reality.

    One of the problems with mental illness is that we tend to think about it differently from physical disease. This is not just a Christian thing; all of us tend to have a different mindset when dealing with mental illness and attach a stigma to it. Part of the reason I think is that we have a better understanding of physical disease.

    I think attitudes are changing. As an example, I have a friend, a former student of mine, who has developed early-onset dementia. Folk have made a huge effort to essentially rebuild his house to make it more livable as he loses functionality.

    It is a challenging experience to see friends and loved ones losing touch with reality through mental illness. We know that some are cured and that living with their condition is going to be a long-term challenge. The miracle that is within our grasp is to be loving supporting Christians not only to the person affected but to their families as well.

  2. Two points come to mind as I read and reflect on today's lesson.

    1) It is important to be aware that although two people can share the same label - eg,'depression' or 'anxiety' - their experience behind the label can be more similar or more different. This is because there is a 'spectrum' of contributing factors and a spectrum of impacts experienced from those contributing factors that can vary more or less from one person to another. Depression or anxiety - like most other conditions - are not one-size-fits-all.

    Failure to appreciate this means we are more at risk of assuming someone's experience and labelling or judging them. On the other hand, being aware of this informs us to take the time to first find out what a particular person's experience is like rather than 'jumping to conclusions'. We need to take the time to first see things from their perspective. This approach will communicate compassion and will be more healing.

    2) What is referred to as 'running away' is the human response to when things get too much. The general aim behind this impulse is to 'pull back' in order to try and recover and heal. Thus 'running away' actually has an important role in potential recovery to be able to move forward again down the track. What makes the difference as to whether a person is more or less likely to recover and rejoin is whether the 'running away' (stepping out, stepping down, stepping back) is done in an overall constructive or destructive manner.

    A part of my 'running away' is running to God where I can step back from my situation (either physically or mentally depending on the situation) and take time to share with him what is happening and how it is impacting me - how I am struggling or overwhelmed or perhaps fatigued. And I can reflect upon His Word - the experiences of others who have gone before me as well as Jesus's experience while He was on earth. I can review the promises of God - that He is with me, for me and has promised to help me.

    I wasn't always able to do this because for a long time the God I knew was distant and not particularly compassionate. He was not someone I could trust. I eventually got to the point where I asked God to heal me by helping me learn to know who He truly is and to be able to trust Him. And over time and experience, God has done and is continuing to do this. Now 'running away' to God is my most preferred option.

    What about you? Do you find you can run away to God when life gets too much at times? If so, how do you do that?

    If not, what seems to stand in the way for you? Is there something about God you are not yet able to trust in those times - something that God needs to heal to help you? Healing sometimes is instant - most times it is a process that requires repeated experience/practice across time.

    • Yes, I understand this, from experiences, the answer to the question: “how do we find rest in Christ when our prayers (or healing) are not answered immediately? Many decades ago, I suffered (I’m now healed) many years with a serious disease, the same as the women with the issue of blood, now known as endometriosis. It was painful and debilitating, as I missed many days from work (luckily everyone at my jobs loved me and my work performance). Was my disease and suffering my fault, a result of my own sins? I don’t know. But I did know that Jesus loved me, and that I would continue to pray every day that He would heal me.

      In those days, the science on endometriosis was not as advanced as it is now. At the end of my suffering with this disease, after many years (10 or 15 years, I can’t remember, it was a long time ago), the new science of oblation of the womb was being used as a treatment for endometriosis, and I was finally healed. Was my physical, as well as my soul, healed? I don’t know the answer to that question either. I continually ask God for His forgiveness, for the healing and the restoration of my soul.

      I’m writing this because there are other women, and men, that are struggling with pain and debilitating diseases, suffering for no faults of their own; just suffering because we live in a sinful diseased world. I want to let those people know that Jesus love You, cares for them, and He is right there with them thru it all, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I know the touch of my Master’s hand now, after going thru years of pain and suffering.

      I questioned God many times during my illnesses, but never got an answer. God doesn’t mind us questioning Him, as long as we continue to turn to Him, communicate with Him. Do you see the pattern? The problem is when we stop asking questions, when we stop communicating with God. It’s all about our relationship with Him, or the building or rebuilding of our relationship with him, until we love, honor, and trust Him with our whole heart, which for most of us will take a lifetime. So, please be encouraged in Christ, whether healed or delayed healing. We will All be healed in that “great getting up morning”, at Jesus second coming.

      Be blessed.

      • Thanks Toni for sharing your experience and for doing so in a way that is an acknowledgment of the reality of experience and encouragement to others...

        Yes, God is always working all things together for good "even when it doesn't (necessarily) feel like it" at the time (Romans 8:28)...

  3. Obviously, running away from facing unsettling issues does not help to resolve them. Personally, when I see heaviness forming like a dark cloud, I remind myself to humbly acknowledge the care God gives all His children daily, and turn to Him. I start to sing simple songs of thanksgiving and praise, made up in the spirit of the moment reflecting the circumstances I face and asking Him to restore my joy; its best to catch the Son before 'it' goes down. 🙂
    I only know Job’s example where the person afflicted did not have an active part in the lead-up and response to the experience. God demonstrated and proved that Job’s faith in Him remained strong in spite of the dread he was experiencing; but this is not necessarily so in our daily lives’ experiences.

    I found individuals respond differrently to upsetting events. Certainly, traumatic circumstances can cause shock and confusion in anyone experiencing extreme circumstances. But how should we respond to circumstances born of the ‘daily grind’; should we allow them to discourage/depress us? So, it is important to distinguish between the two experiences and address them rightly.
    Could it be that inertia - the tendency to do nothing, to remain unchanged - invites a certain hopelessness; could this result in depression and not necessarily the circumstances we originally encountered?

    Maybe I am too simplistic, naïve even, but running away from a problem does not resolve it, it makes it worse. It unsettles me when I see people refuse to squarely look at their problem, analyze it, and start resolving it. If inertia leads to other dysfunctional behavior, problems can only compound.

    We Christians, at the first sign of moodiness, can turn to our Maker who offers His help in all disfunction of life! It is so important to be honest with oneself in order to get the right perspective and so find the right solution; along with asking for help we need to ask Him to give us honesty and wisdom!

    Psalm:62:5-9KJV ”My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge is in God.

    • Brigitte- in the bible it tells us not to WORRY several times- Matt 6:25-34. Not to be AFRAID/FEAR many/several times- Isa 41:10. Many times when an angel visits people we hear the words, 'fear not, I bring you good news', those were for a great reason. Not to be ANXIOUS several times- Philippians 4:6-7. Why did the bible told us not to, not to, not to. The Lord knew humans will start from something simple as a seed but it can spring into a large uncontrollable tree. These things take us down the path to destruction. If we trace the path to suicide, it always starts with something simple. Worrying leads to fear- leads to anxiety/anxious behavior. Some people can be diagnose with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which leads to depression, uncontrolled, leads to suicidal behavior.
      Do we see how Satan works with humans from the beginning of worrying? People says it is human to worried? There are a lot that is going on in the world today to make us worry, but our only hope must be in Jesus. What does the bible says? I will cont to trust in the bible, the Lord knows best.

      Many times humans worry about presume problems that might never exist. The 'what ifs'.
      What if I loose my job, what if my spouse leave me, what if I die and who will take care of my parents, or my children, what if I get covid, what if I dont have food, what if I can't pay for my rent or mortgage, what if..., what if.... These are real issues but the Lord has several ways to care for his children. Amen.

  4. Running Away

    There are many things we SDA are afraid to speak about much less teach/preach about. We hold several things as tabo and secrets and only the immediate family or clique should be told. We are ashamed to say someone or ourselves are suffering from mental illness in the family. In the DSM-5, Depression and anxiety comes under mental health disease. Many christians suffer alone and for a long time because how we deal with life.
    We are not living in a perfect world and if someone visits another in the hospital and it happens that the sick information is out (members hearing and knowing the simplest news, the sick gets so upset it is so amazing. We want prayers but we want unspoken prayers. I wondered how Jesus dealt wit those unspoken prayers?

  5. When I am anxious I find comfort in the Word of the LORD.
    Here are two text that I have found helpful. (I have collected a list on my journey so far to which I can refer in need)

    Deuteronomy 31:8
    “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
    The Good News: While depression can make you feel lonely, God is still there with you. And he’s not going anywhere.

    Philippians 4:8
    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
    The Good News: Although there may be difficult or dark times, taking time to be grateful and reflect on things that are good can lift your spirits.

    Should I share these with friends who are anxious? Only if I know they love and trust the LORD. Otherwise I believe I should rather share my empathy with them in their time of trouble as ambassador of His lovingkindness.

  6. Regarding the WHO report on depression, the bible teaches us that sinners will be unable to find peace, and “have no rest day nor night”(Rom 3:17, Rev 14:11). This same Word also teaches how to find “perfect peace”(Isa 26:3, Rom 5:1, John 14:27, etc). There is no earthly remedy for that which afflicts mankind.

    It is interesting to learn that the health message given from the Lord affects our entire being: physical, mental, and spiritual, and that most depression is easily overcome by changing one's habits/diet, and if learning to trust the Lord. God knows what is best for His children.

    Why did Elijah react to Jezebel’s threat by running?

    Being physically and mentally weary after the events that day, Elijah was unguarded and his faith was overcome by fear when threatened by the wicked queen, whom Elijah knew would carry it out. In that moment Elijah forgot the Lord who had just that day displayed His mighty power, and who had preserved Elijah for over 3 years. Whenever overtaxed by cares, our hold on the Lord must increase.

    • Robert - I agree with your statement that 'there is no earthly remedy for that which afflicts mankind." It is the broken relationship with our Maker which needs to be healed first; life can then be seen/understood in its correct light and lived accordingly.

  7. There may be at least one other reason for Elijah's flight. Yes, he was tired, depressed, anxious and exhausted. but not because he was afraid for his own life per se. In his response to God, he expressed his concern that he was the only prophet that God had left and now he would be killed. God would then have no more prophets, he may have reasoned. Further, IF he was going to die, wouldn't it be better for God to kill him than to let the wicked triumph over the prophets and God's name trampled upon? Perhaps his work was done. I can imagine the joy in his heart when God told him there were 7,000 others.
    Sometimes our depression comes from our failed expectations of God, when God's 'got it!'We may think we have to use our human strategies to solve a problem. The answer to his prayer that his life would be taken was a 'No!', a new assignment and reassurance.
    Another point of view...

    1 Kings 19: 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

    14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
    18 (God said) Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

    • Priscilla - thank you for sharing! What great insight when looking at this account with fresh eyes! I agree, we often fall short when thinking to resolve our problems alone, forgetting to take into account that God has already started working on our behalf. He knows our need before we voice it to Him, He knows our heart's desire before we speak it.

  8. In all of these very valuable comments I have not yet seen anyone mention that many mental illnesses - including depression and anxiety - can have a physical basis. Modern research has found chemical imbalances in the brain for many who have these problems. And there are now often medications which can help those with the most severe cases.

    If stress and depression doesn’t respond to other methods - prayer, taking a break, etc - we should encourage those who are suffering to seek professional medical help.

    I always make the analogy to diabetes - sometimes a person can improve their condition through diet and exercise changes, but sometimes not. When the condition requires it, they may need to take insulin.

    Someone with severe depression or anxiety (or any other mental disorder) should not be made to feel that they are failures because they can’t “get over it”. The chemical imbalance in their brains may require them to take medicine for a while (or forever) so that they can function.

    I worry that we are not counseling people to seek medical intervention when it could really help them.

    • What you say is very true and Think if you look back over the comments I have made over the years I have stressed the importance of addressing these issues. My own father had depression and it was necessary to take medication (some of which he did not like) to gain the necessary balance to continue life. Healthy lifestyle certainly helps but when the light at the end of the tunnel goes out, it is important to seek qualified help.

    • Sten, I believe it is the general practice of most to seek the medications first, before correcting the habits/practices that may be the cause. Many have no interest in self-denial where change is needed to remove the harmful influence. In most cases, positive changes have had great success. Medications that often have adverse side-effects, should be the last resort if possible.

      Do we trust in the Lord, or not?

      • There is always a fine line to walk. But often a deeply depressed person can’t even gather the strength to make the changes that would provide relief. I am not talking about someone who’s feeling a bit blue, but deep, clinical depression. Such a person may need the medication first in order to be able to make the other lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc) that will allow him / her to improve and hopefully get off medication in the long term.

        I speak with some degree of experience here. I spent years trying to “cure” myself. It was only after I sought professional help and medication that I was actually able to improve.

        But, yes, for milder cases it might be possible to get help through other methods first and not jump immediately to medication. That is for individuals (in consultation with a competent doctor) to decide.

        • Sten, there is a wonderful book, "The Ministry of Healing" that addresses this topic from a Bible perspective. We will always limit the power of God if we don't exercise faith in His promises.

          Many have been cured by the simple/natural remedies outlined in this exceptional book on the subject. Yet many remain uncured through unbelief.

  9. I always tell my family let us not run to God because these are some of the mistakes we make as christians.We should teach ourselves to stay with God all the time so that when all this things come to us God Himself will protect us .


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