Depression and Anxiety, Part IV: Be Careful Trying to Chart Your Own Course!

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Mr. Destiny is one of my favorite movies.  I relate well to Larry Burrows.  What if I had not felt the calling of God in 1973, today I could have been a professional astronomer, photographer, CEO?  What if I had hit that ball, made that basket, been picked for that team, I could be a rich professional athlete? What if I had not taken 20 years to graduate from University (I was a struggling Father and Husband).  What if I had not gone to Seminary (and knowing what I know now I would not do it again – that is why God does not let us know then)?  What if I had instead taken that job?  What would my life be like today if I had just hit that dang ball?

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.

Prov 19:21 (RSV)

One of my moments came as a high school student.  A friend told me “…if you don’t, I’m asking her out!“  I started dating her, and my life was forever changed.  She has been my wife now for the past 35 years, and she is the love of my life.  I cannot even imagine life without her.  Other than my salvation, everything good in my life has been brought about through her.  I look forward to the next 37 years together.  But what if I had not asked her out?  Scarey thought….

Larry Burrows learns a valuable lesson.  He learns that every small detail in our lives is carefully designed to bring about certain outcomes.  These outcomes are used by God, according to Romans 8:28, for our good.  But in the process of learning this truth Larry deals with depression, a lot of depression.  He finds himself thinking that if he had just hit that ball his life would be perfect.  What he does not know is that hitting that ball would have changed everything, and I mean everything.  His relationship to his best friend, his wife, his job, and especially the final outcome of his life.

September 11, 2001 was a day I will never forget.  I had been listening to the events unfold on my way to work as the Senior Operations Manager for a super-regional shopping mall.  I had arrived, basically, by the worlds standards.  I had worked my way literally from being a janitor all the way to the top in a corporate environment.  I was in charge.  Several managers shared a role just under the General Manager of the mall, and I was one of them.  I was in charge of everything it took to operate the $6.5 Billion mall property.  I was in charge of security, maintenance, housekeeping, construction, outside contractors.  I was the boss.  Then the events of that day convicted me.  “Marvin, what are you doing here?”  I heard that in my mind as I walked out and saw all the Palm Trees and improvements I had led the corporation to invest $150,000 into.  I felt as though I had abandoned my calling to ministry in 1973 and ended up here .  I struggled with this for quite some time.  I became ill with kidney stones, a nasty episode, and missed my planned resignation date (I had planned to resign and enter seminary in a certain time frame; but here I was on leave with an extended illness).

Now I find myself often thinking, 6 years after graduation and no income from ministry, “…did I make a mistake?  Did I misinterpret God’s calling?  Should I have gone to Seminary?”  And in those really weak and sinful moments I have, “I wish I had never left the mall and entered Seminary!“  I find myself often dealing with deep depression thinking along these lines.  And those are the times I sin against God in my thoughts and depressive moods.  These moods, called depression, are sin.  God has given me the truth in Scripture and my psychologized mind tells me I deserve more; this, my friend, is sin.  This and the resulting depression is sin, not sickness.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way.

Psalms 37:23 (NASB)

Yes, I said sinful moments.  You see, if I question God and His leadership in my life and allow that to lead me into depression, then my depression is sin.  God is God and I am not.  If I fail to trust God in His provision for my life in material areas, that is sin.  God promised to take care of my needs if I do something else:

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat? or What will we drink? or ‘What will we wear for clothing? For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  ‘But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matt 6:31-34 (NASB)

Seldom do I get depressed when I am not worrying about something…’How will we pay that car or house payment, how will I pay the electric bill, how can we buy groceries this week?”  I become depressed, sometimes deeply, over these worries.  And yes friends, these worries and their related depression are sin.  The promise of God is that if I seek His kingdom first, if I seek the righteousness of God and count if of paramount importance in my life, then “…all these things will be added to me.”

Do you think that God is merely interested in your major moments?  Do you for a moment think that He is not even guiding you even in the smallest details of your life?  Consider this:

Does He not see my ways And number all my steps?

Job 31:4 (NASB)

God is interested in and uses the very smallest details of my life to bring about His master plan for me.  When I asked that pretty young thing out that day, I had no idea that we would be married, have three boys, struggle financially, have two granddaughters and celebrate 35 years of marriage by this year.  I had no idea that at this point in my life I would realize what a tremendous relationship we would have nor that I would crave her presence and my conversations with her.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for establishing that step (asking her out) and numbering all the others I have taken!  And Lord Jesus, forgive me for doubting you, and thank you for freeing me likewise from the prison of depression often.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jer 29:11 (RSV)

This post was written by

kc5lei – who has written 50 posts on One Flesh Ministries.

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One Response to “Depression and Anxiety, Part IV: Be Careful Trying to Chart Your Own Course!”

  1. I’ve been reading your articles on depression. I have struggled with depression since I was 12. Although I agree with some of what you say I do believe that all depression is not sin. I was verbally abused by my mother and also watched my mother abuse my father most of my childhood. I also have struggled with post pardum depression (which is definitely chemical) and PMDD. Every month like clock workI sink into a depression anxiety for a week…its horrible. I want to ask if you have ever looked into chemical depression in women because I think it is real as, like I said, I have struggled with it for over 25 years.
    Also, have you looked into depression from childhood abuse? What about PTSD? I know that isn’t sin based…I struggled with that after trying to save a life of a drowning boy last summer.
    So, my question to you is…how can all depression be from sin in your life? Chemical depression IS real…especially with womens hormonal issues, etc. PTSD is real when witnessing traumatic events.
    I know that “living in sin” is making the choice to consistently live outside of God will and I can understand how that would create depression because it separates you from God. However, when you try with all your heart to live in Gods will and deal with depression outside your control (reasons mentioned above) I can’t see how that is “living in sin” and outside the realm of help from doctors and medication.
    Plus, if someone’s depression that is out of their control is blamed on sin in their lives, wouldn’t that create more guilt making the person even more despondant if it is simply not thei fault?

    Thank you!

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