Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Give Thanks … Even When You’re Depressed

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
– Job 1:20-21 

In her best-selling book, “The Hiding Place,” Corrie ten Boom tells the story of how she and her family resisted the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands during World War II. When the Nazi Gestapo began rounding up Jews in Amsterdam and sending them to concentration camps, Corrie and her family risked their lives by helping Jews hide and escape. During the first four years of the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands, it’s estimated that Corrie ten Boom and her family helped save the lives of 800 Jews.

But on February 28, 1944, the German secret police raided Corrie’s house, where she was hiding six Jews and resistance workers. The Gestapo didn’t find the hidden Jews, but they arrested Corrie and several other family members. Eventually Corrie and her older sister Betsie were transferred to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, where they were disgusted to find that their barracks were infested with fleas. When Corrie began to complain, Betsie insisted that they give thanks instead, quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  

Corrie finally joined her sister in thanking God for the fleas. The two of them began hosting evening Bible studies for their fellow prisoners, and many women accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. To their surprise, the camp guards never disrupted those evening studies, and they never came to their barracks to harass or rape the women. After several months, Corrie realized the very fleas she had so despised had actually been a blessing. God had sent the fleas to keep away the cruel guards and pave the way for many prisoners to find hope and salvation in Christ.

If fleas in a concentration camp are actually a blessing from God, which blessings might you and I have missed because we’ve mistakenly seen them as a curse? In the Bible, Job is the perfect example of how to be thankful—even when we’re grieving and depressed.

According to Job 1:1, “Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” He was also wealthy and devoted to the large family God had blessed him with. But Satan wasn’t buying it. He challenged God: “What do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what’” (v.11). Well, God gave Satan free rein to do his worst, and that’s exactly what the devil did. In the space of a few hours, Job’s sheep were burnt to a crisp in a freak lightning storm, the rest of his herds were stolen by raiders, and his 10 sons and daughters were all killed when a dust storm caused the house where they were eating to collapse on them.

Job was grief-stricken. His first reaction was to do what was customary in his culture when someone was overcome with sadness. He tore his robe and shaved his head. But what he did next is remarkable: “He fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised’” (vs. 20-21). And as chapter 1 draws to a close, the writer of Job offers this beautiful commentary: “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (v. 22). Job sank into a deep depression. But still, somehow, he was thankful.

When we’re grieving and slipping into depression, we can pull these three steps right from Job 1:21:

Step #1: Look BACK. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb.” Job urges us to focus on God’s past blessings. When you and I are depressed, our tendency is to have tunnel vision. We become consumed with the thoughts of today’s misery. So, like Job, we must pull off the blinders and remember that we came into this world with nothing. Everything we own has been a good and gracious gift from God: our clothing, food, jobs, our homes.

Step #2: Look AHEAD. “Naked I will depart.” When we’re down in the dumps because our water heater is busted, our identity was stolen, or our car was repossessed, we need to remember that when we die, we won’t be able to take it with us anyway. If you are experiencing depression because something you value has been taken from you, here is the perspective that can help you be thank-full: “God gave it to me in the first place, and sooner or later He was going to pass it on to someone else. So, I’m going to thank God for the time that I had it. I was never the owner. I was simply the manager of that item for a short time. Thank you, Jesus!”

Step #3: Look UP. “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” When you’re depressed, the more you look up to God, the better off you’ll be. Satan was convinced that when all Job’s stuff was taken from him, he would curse God and die. But Job wasn’t duped by the father of lies. Instead of cursing God, Job “fell to the ground in worship…. Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

May the same be said of you and me when we find ourselves in the pit of grief and despair. While most people are blaming God, resenting God and turning their backs on God, let’s worship and praise God. And through it all, let’s make sure we do not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. In the end, it will be crystal clear to everyone that God is faithful, God is just, and God IS at work for our good.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Pastor Dane’s latest book (Called to Persevere: One Man’s Journey to Overcome Pain, Disease and Disappointment with God) is NOW available at Amazon. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc or www.Called2Persevere.com.

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