The Problem of Depression:
By: Mike Stokes
We have examined the medical files of two of Gods’ most well known prophets; Moses and Elijah. In the wake of a miraculous escape from Egypt, Moses slumped into depression; in the wake of an amazing display of the power of God over the prophets off Baal, Elijah fell into a state of depression. Our third patient is an unusual character; in the wake of the greatest evangelistic campaign ever, Jonah became a victim of depression.
Jonah’s successful campaign is recorded in (Jonah 3: 5-10), all of Nineveh was saved. Yet, he said, “I wish I were dead” (4: 3, 8), same words, different man. Why did Jonah battle depression?
Physically (3: 1-4)
He had fought hard agains God, experienced the ordeal with the fish, preached his way through Nineveh (a city so large it took three days to walk through it), his success began in the first day of his trek through the city (3: 4). Again, we have a physically exhausted man.
Emotionally (4: 1-2)
Because God reconsidered his threat to destroy Nineveh, Jonah was angry and a bitter man. Some background will help us understand Jonah’s reaction; Nineveh was the capitol city of the Assyrian Empire, an enemy of Israel. Jonah was angry with God for sparing Israel’s enemy. We would say today he was a bigoted racist, not exactly an ideal paragon of an evangelist. Emotionally he was quite disturbed.
Spiritually (4: 2-3)
It is difficult to get the mind around Jonah’s attitude; after a revival meeting where perhaps, 600,000 people were saved [120,000 children lived in Ninevah], he was angry and depressed. He apparently wanted to preach without results? His anger and carnality indicates a deep spiritual problem.
I think one of the most interesting things about the story of Jonah is, the way God reasoned with him about his reaction (4: 4-11). How would you talk to someone who is; angry, frustrated, bitter, exhausted, and in a state of utter despair? A daunting task. God’s approach to Jonah seems gentle and quiet, note his question; Jonah, do you have good reason to be angry about this? Jonah’s answer is abrupt and firm; Yes! I do have good reason to be angry. God’s second question; Am I not to have mercy on the children, Jonah? He does not respond to this question, which may be a good sign that Jonah begin to see God’s point of view. Seems to me there is good reason to believe that Jonah begin to emerge from-The Problem of Depression.
Disclaimer: The men mentioned in this particular series of articles are battling depression due to environmental and/or spiritual struggles. While this is the case for some people in other people depression is a clinical problem that needs to be treated by a medical professional. That is a completely different category of depression.