The first message in his series this week was on the weighty topic of depression. Too often, I've seen, in "Christian" circles and churches there seems to be this stigma about discussing this very real-life struggle. No one wants to admit they have struggled are or having problems in this area largely due to a fear of judgment. I've had very close friends and others in my life who have felt the weight of trying to deal with depression on their own because they are afraid to open up to other believers due to that fear.
It breaks my heart. Who are we to stand in judgment of those who might struggle and be hurting in an area we haven't experienced? Why is there such an outrageously un-biblical and un-Christlike need to urge those who are hurting to bottle up their problems and pretend everything is fine because they are a "Christian". Almost nothing makes me more upset than the encouragement of this pretense. It hits close to home as I've seen so many people hurt by so-called believers in Christ as they shun those who struggle with depression and other emotional scars. Obviously this first message struck a chord.
Pastor Brian shared a story from the life of Elijah, an incredible prophet and man of God whose life is recorded in the book of I Kings (in the Old Testament/first half of the Bible). Elijah quite obviously suffered from emotional highs and lows, deep dark depressions...yet look at what God was able to do through such a broken man! We don't need to hide when we're struggling with this very real issue - we need people who will lift us up, point us back to God, insist on helping us seek medical treatment if necessary and be with us on the journey toward finding help. The most important thing you can communicate to someone you love who is in the midst of depression is that they are NOT alone. And back up that promise with some very real friendship and support.
I am so thankful to be a part of a church that welcomes absolutely everyone from any walk of life, at any point in their life with open arms and a desire to help heal those wounds. Our pastors and church leaders are some of the most "real" leaders in Christ I have ever seen. They are not only open about their own personal struggles, giving God the glory for any success the church has, but they are eager to pass along those experience and get each person involved in the church plugged into a ministry where they can not only serve others, but grow and be served themselves. It is truly an amazing experience to be in a Christian/church environment that is "doing church" the way it should be done according to God's Word. Check out the messages online if you can't make it to church to hear them in person.
Our church is Oak Ridge Baptist and it's in Salisbury, MD. You can find out more by checking out the website: http://www.orbc.net/. Here are a few of the Bible passages that Pastor Brian used in his message this morning, just in case you'd like to check 'em out:
1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your cares upon Him (God), for He cares for you."
Colossians 3:4a - "Christ gives meaning to your life..."
John 16:33 - "I have told you all this so you may have PEACE in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have OVERCOME the world."
We can overcome because Jesus Christ has already overcome anything we may face in this world and it is His power to do so through us every day.