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The Roaring Lion – Depression & Suicide in the Christian Family

Have you ever watched a roaring lion?  …the immense thunder of the roar… the reverberation of sound that seeps to marrow of your bones… the flash of teeth made for tearing flesh…  The Bible warns us in 1 Peter 5:7-9:  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

When we talk about spiritual warfare, sometimes I do not think we envision the roaring lion.  Some of us have stereotypical images of the devil and others never give the enemy any thought at all.  We know that ultimately God is victorious over Satan.  But, God warns us very clearly about our enemy.  Our enemy is looking for someone to devour.  It makes sense for him to focus in on leaders of the Christian faith.  Take down the leaders and cause doubt in the hearts and minds of others.

One of the ways I have witnessed and personally experienced a tearing of the flesh by a roaring lion is through the wily technique of depression and suicide – a systematic devouring of hope and distorting of reality.  It seems as though we hear about depression and suicide in our Christian family more and more.  There have been quite a few pastors and Christian leaders taking their own lives.  My father was one of them.

I was asked many times by friends and family the ultimate question of whether or not my Dad would go to heaven since he ended his own life.  (On this subject, I found great comfort and answers to this question in a sermon by John Piper found here.)  My personal struggle with the way my Dad died dealt more with the incredible grief that such a godly man would leave this as his legacy.  Over time, I have realized that my Dad’s legacy was so much more than that one tragic moment. He was a godly man who discipled me and countless others.  He was a doctor who practiced medicine– both to the physical and the spiritual.   His life sowed lasting seeds that continue to bear much fruit.

Depression widely affects humanity.  Those who suffered from depression include giants of the Christian faith:  Moses, Elijah, David, Hannah, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henri Nouwen, C.S. Lewis, John Piper, and countless others.  So, how can it be that Christians battle depression?  How is it that so many (even pastors) succumb to suicide?

There are several factors that we can list, but most of the time it is a combination of many.  Burnout, Anxiety, Loss, Grief, Sin, Shame, Physical Illness, Hopelessness, Anger, Isolation, Depression.  All of which come from us living in a broken world.  On this side of heaven, there is brokenness.  Thus, the need for a Savior.

Distortion of reality is the method in which the roaring lion uses to shackle us with hopelessness and depression.  We buy into the lie that nothing will help and there will never be a reprieve.  Our enemy gets us to believe the deception and distortion of reality and then turns around and accuses us the moment we fall.  When the reality is that our God is mighty to save.  He delights in His children and loves us relentlessly.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

What can we do to battle this roaring lion?  Specifically with regard to depression and suicide?  I have nothing new under the sun to share.  Just a bit of encouragement and few reminders.

God loves us and helps us to walk through trouble, calamity, persecution, destitution, or danger.  Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.  (Rom 8:37)  The brokenness and struggles of the world still remain on this side of heaven; yet we can have bold confidence in Christ as we endure these difficulties.

Let us stand together – firm in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – against the roaring lion.  We have victory in Jesus.

Here are a few resources that I have found tremendously helpful in my own season of depression.  I also use these books as resources as I minister to others who battle depression:

Articles by Ed Stetzer:

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