Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ten ways to Sin Against Suffering People #6

 Is it a sin to be depressed?

I can sure see that a lot of my friends and readers love this series of posts. Most of you are a lot like me and love to read about how humans tend to mess up. Why do we like that kind of information? I am not certain but I think it gives us some comfort to know we are similar to them in faults and weaknesses as well as our strengths.

For seven years we ran two Christ-Centered Psychiatric Hospital Units with the Franciscan Sisters. When we started in 1989 we had a faith based, cutting edge, wholistic, comprehensive program that accepted people who were addicts as well as emotionally distressed.

It was an eye opening experience. Almost every client who came for help was a born again, serious, pious Christian from a conservative, Bible believing background. Despite or because of their church backgrounds, they had heard about the dangers of sex, drugs, alcohol and sin all their lives. Yet, many were addicted to some or all of these substances and lived in terror of hell.As a result, many were depressed, anxious and compulsive.

On several instances the Pastors or parents of our Clients came to the unit to tell them it was a sin to be depressed or anxious. One of the favorite passages of scripture used to prove it was a sin to feel sadness, anxiety or compulsive craving was:

"Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be known to God and His peace will guard your hearts and minds in Christ". PH 4:6-7

Instead of using this wonderfully affirming verse to teach the client how to pray and deal with pain, it is used as a club by people who must like to see vulnerable people squirm in despair. It is often that kind of distorted theology and twisted compassion that lead the Clients to be depressed in the first place. The following scripture tells us what the role of a good shepherd is supposed to be.

Ezekiel 34: The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 

15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

The Good Shepherd searches far and wide to find lonely, anxious, distressed, depressed, sick and sinful sheep to restore to the flock.  We have several books and dozens of videos and teaching materials to help good shepherds.

Gary Sweeten

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