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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - May 15, 2008

  • 2008 May 15

Life in the Minor Key


We were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us . —2 Corinthians 7:5-6, emphasis added


Most of the Bible is in the major key in which saints are fearlessly witnessing and churches are valiantly serving against all odds. As much as those portions bring great joy to our souls, side-by-side with all that wonderful testimony is the minor key of Scripture.


In the minor key accounts, God provides true glimpses into His children’s weaknesses and frailties by showing how some of His greatest saints struggled with being sad, discouraged, and depressed. Yet the Lord did not correct them and tell them they were in sin. So, as we study Revelation’s unveiling of the Great Tribulation coming upon this world, know that He understands if at times you struggle with anticipation of what is to come. He wants you to give your fears to Him and find living hope for the end of days!


I believe that having a better understanding of God’s view of depression can encourage your heart. Think about these questions: Is it always sin that makes us depressed? Is it always a sin to be depressed? It may surprise you that God’s answer to both questions is no. What do Moses, Elijah, Hezekiah, Job, Ezra, David, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Paul share in common with us today? They were all Spirit-filled servants of the Lord, and they all struggled with negative emotions.


I looked up depression in the Webster’s Dictionary and found the descriptions fascinating: “(1) A state of feeling sad; a disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies; and (2) A reduction in activity, amount, quality, or force; a lowering of vitality or functional activity.”


We must be careful to not say that anxiety, depression, discouragement, and other negative emotions are in themselves sinful. Why? God’s servants have experienced these same emotions, and in Christ we see sinless anger, deep emotional distress, grief, and anguish—all of which were perfectly displayed. For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “began to be very distressed and troubled” and His soul was “deeply grieved to the point of death” (see Mark 14:33-34 NASB). In coming to earth, He took upon himself the form of a human with all its frailties, yet He did not sin.


We should not call each occurrence of a negative emotion sin, but neither should we stay “in the pits.” The following servants of the Lord all suffered from crippling, and sometimes even paralyzing, depression:


  • Moses: “I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now !” (Numbers 11:14-15).
  • Elijah: “But he… prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’ ” (1 Kings 19:4).
  • Hezekiah: Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord . And Hezekiah wept bitterly (2 Kings 20:2-3).
  • Job: “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11).
  • Ezra: My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word (Psalm 119:25).
  • David: “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name ” (Psalm 142:7).
  • Jeremiah: “See, O Lord, that I am in distress; my soul is troubled; my heart is overturned within me, for I have been very rebellious” (Lamentations 1:20).
  • Jonah: God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he said, “It is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:8).
  • Paul: Our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us (2 Corinthians 7:5-6, NASB).


When caught up in the throes of depression, emotions can run so rampant that it is difficult to think clearly. If that happens to you, like David, remember to cry out to the Lord: O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge; until these calamities have passed by (Psalm 57:1). Jesus is the safest refuge in the universe!

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