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God's peace can help us live above anxieties as we learn to trust in Him!

The Lord Your Healer: 

Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch by Paul J. Bucknell

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Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch

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The Bible Teaching Commentary on Genesis: The Book of Foundations

Commentaries that specialize on training the teacher!

Overcoming Anxiety: Finding Peace, Discovering God

 

Discouragement & Depression: Its Causes and Solutions
Reflections upon Haggai

Haggai: Building the Temple of God

Paul J. Bucknell

Depression | Two Cycles| Cycle #1 Guilt | #1 Obedience | Cycle #2 | Wisdom | Compassion | Promises


When God addressed the discouraged and despairing, He didn't first rebuke or criticize but told them to take courage and work for God is with them. We will discuss God's compassion here in Haggai chapter 2.

Cycle #2 Caring for the Depressed (Haggai 2:1-23)

2) God's compassion

A depressed person often feels that God has given up on them or that He has rejected them. This can come about after they think over their disobedience. As in this case, they could easily get double discouraged once everyone stopped working. One only needs to experience the influence of a negative morale among workers to see how integral this is to completing the work. This secondary temptation shouts a series of statements,

"You're no good."
"You are a failure."
"I told you so. You never would finish."
"God has left you for good."

Satan tries to confuse God's people between judgment and discipline. He tries to make us feel that what we have done wrong, cannot be changed. If convinced, then we stay at the bottom, depressed and useless.

We should never think that God has rejected us. This passage should prove that beyond degree. Yes, we might reason that there are more severe cases than this one in Haggai, but can we not see that God really cares for those who have failed Him? Remember Solomon's great prayer in 2 Chronicles 6? God answered He would always be near enough to hear His people's prayer and heal them. Let's note how God reached out to this broken people.

God first of all approaches them.

He didn't reject them. Rejection means 'no more dealing with.' Some parents or pastors are so upset with disobedience that they have rejected those in their charge. This is not God's way. God reaches out in a timely way. He said to Haggai, "Speak now...." We should never harden ourselves from disappointment in such a way that we become unapproachable. In fact, we should touch base with depressed people here and there and see if God would open the door for us to bring hope and love into their lives.

God does not rebuke or criticize the leaders or people.

They have failed. They have failed more than once. God didn't rebuke them though. They were already feeling rejection. (This is contrasted to the pride of the Pharisees who were often rebuked). Although a rebuke would be truth, it would not be loving. The people are already convinced of failure. They were ensnared by discouragement. They let discouragement lead to disobedience. Discouraged people need direction, affirmation and hope. This is what the Lord brought them.

God exhorted them to take courage.

We need to pay special attention to this charge to take courage. God often exhorts people to take courage (see God speak 4 times in Joshua 1) but rarely have I ever heard a preacher or teacher mention this. We see God took the same approach to all three groups. If a person is sick with the same disease, and a medicine works, we give others with the same problem the same effective treatment.

-> Take courage, Zerubbabel.

-> Take courage also, Joshua.

-> All you people of the land take courage

The word to "take courage" is literally to be strong. This is the exhortation that causes a person to recognize who he is and God's call upon his life. It furthermore fosters the willingness to take what little strength he has to respond to God's call. The special call to be strong helps fight discouragement and depression because of numerous reasons.

The 'Call to be Courageous' helps fight depression for a number of reasons.

1)

Calls them from a spirit of confusion and lack of direction.

Counters

"I just exist. That's all!"

2)

Directs them to respond in a specific way back to God's call.

Counters

"I don't know what to do."

3)

Refers back to a undeniable truth deep in their heart that is clear when remembered.

Counters

"God doesn't speak to me."

4)

Encourages them by establishing their response is important and significant.

Counters

"It doesn't matter."

5)

Fosters an expectation of strength which encourages them to be able to do its.

Counters

"I can't do it."

We must see that God does not just infuse strength like pouring water into a bottle. He instead challenges the person to get a hold on his will and exert it. Satan's delight is to get God's people to become listless and irresponsible. Strong Christians are always masters of their will. Strength comes from determining to let God work in them to do His good will. God shows how He cares by calling them back to what He earlier had stated. Clearly God had not rejected them.

Modern Compassion versus God's Mercy

The modern understanding of compassion and mercy is opposite to God's. Where God would exhort people to take responsibility and respond to their duties, the world tolerates them to remain in their sad and defeated state. They most commonly do this by medicating them for the long term. They also do this by calling their weakness an addiction. This makes the state both real and permissable when God says it is not real and impermissible. They end up saying, "That is the way I am."

God calls people to mission, His mission. Be strong or 'take courage' calls them to remember what they had heard and valued long ago and to follow that inner directive. The darkness might be thick, but all one needs is a little light to direct them to their next step. Compassion does not mean leave a person in their sad sin. Biblical compassion leads people from disobedience back to the joy and power of obedience.

Summary

We of course need to be careful to speak kindly. Respect people by dealing kindly with them. Speak firmly. Stir up God's voice from the past by going over their conversion, how God spoke to them in the past, reviewing what led them into different effective ministries, etc. Ask them what promises God had given to them, or what Bible verses used to speak so clearly to you and why. If we cannot get new light into them, let us defog the light that they have etched on their hearts.

God wants His people to be effective. He is building up His people. We should build up His people because we care for them. Never is this so clear when we see God sending His Son like a sheep to be given up for the broken sheep. He would die so that they might enter in and have an abundant life. Truly, God's compassion is so mighty compared to the world. At any time His child can come back to Him and be received into God's love.

Next => Lastly, let's look at 3) God's promises, the way God extends care to the despairing.

 

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