Finding the Path Out of Depression

From the October 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Let us be frank. Depression is at epidemic proportions worldwide. Ironically, this plague has been raging during what most consider to be good times. How will people handle the bad times now staring us in the face? We are not being pessimistic—just honest! We know that the current catastrophic world crisis will lead to a bright new future: Lasting good times—true personal and international peace and happiness—are coming. However, in the short run, world troubles will continue to approach near disaster. So, we all must learn to deal with the problems ahead. Why? Ignoring problems only increases mental disorders such as stress, anxiety and depression.

The best cure for depression—and its companions, stress and anxiety—is to never fall prey to it in the first place. However, if you are already depressed, believe us: There is a way to get out and stay out. Let us help you find the path out of mental gloom, even in this world rushing toward the brink.

Rethinking Depression

Some health-care professionals believe chronic stress is a leading cause of depression. In our fast-paced, frantic world, people gripe about being overworked and overwrought with personal problems. Many complain about being stressed out all the time. The smallest incident or personal inconvenience often sets some over the edge, emotionally.

Does this describe you? If so, it is not time to grab a pill, guzzle alcohol or use illegal drugs—it’s time to get control of your emotions and your thinking! Constructive, creative and critical thinking is greatly diminished in a person who is stressed out, fearful, super-anxious or depressed. Clear thinking is a must for surviving tough times.

Why are so many people so stressed out and succumbing to depression? Medical science wants to know the answer to that question, but most medical experts only examine the physical symptoms. Ignored are the difficult-to-observe, hard-to-detect mental weaknesses that lead to personal instability and loss of productivity. Corporate America may actually be doing a better job of going after the cause. Of course, it has an economic reason for doing so: Stress-related illnesses including depression are estimated to cost American companies $200 to $300 billion a year. Interestingly, the problem is being attacked with education. In essence, employers are teaching employees how to cope with life. Right education about solving life’s problems is the key to conquering stress and depression.

Michael LeGault asks an intriguing question about stress in his innovative book Think! “Today, stress and its co-conspirator, so-called information overload, are two major factors in the weakening of mental energy needed to do creative, technical work and solve everyday problems. It is why so many people say they are in perpetual ‘crisis mode’ and have the feeling that their lives are ‘out of control.’ It is why some are falling off the side of their mountain. But how real is stress?”

What a thought-provoking question. Is stress real? The question would insult some. LeGault explains, “[T]here are obviously traumatic events that can introduce severe stress into people’s lives. But the meaning of stress, a word once applied to extreme, relatively rare situations, has been inflated to apply to just about everything that happens.” LeGault believes stress is the new buzzword people use “to lift the burden of responsibility for the quality of our thinking and decisions from off our shoulders.” In other words, many people claim stress problems as an excuse to shift the blame for their bad decisions: Stress made me do it!

Corporate instructors agree. Dr. Scott Sheperd, a professional stress counselor and motivational speaker, writes in his book Who’s in Charge: Attacking the Stress Myth, “The word stress now seems to stand for all kinds of things. Stress has gone from a physiological process, during which certain hormones are released into the body, to some vague, malevolent force running rampant in life. In fact, stress now means so many different things, I don’t think it means anything at all. And yet we blame stress for most of our problems.”

Stress is not some virus that attacks an individual from outside the body, these thinkers say. Stress comes from within the person. It is the effect of how an individual perceives, thinks about and reacts to the problems life throws at him or her.

This same view can apply to endogenous depression. No doubt there can be physical, hormonal reasons for depression—post-natal depression is a well-known example. However, a majority of people succumb to depression because they do not know how to deal with life. They are not taking responsibility and holding themselves accountable for their decisions and actions. Some, when confronted with even a slight problem, will exclaim, “That’s depressing.” Some often complain about their lives: “I am so depressed!”

Here is a reality that we all need to think about. Not everyone who faces catastrophic problems—loss of child or spouse, loss of job or social status, loss of physical health—sinks into deep depression. So why do others?

Missing in Education

Let us ask some tough questions. Isn’t there something wrong when corporate America must fix its employees so they can work productively? Has our educational system failed us? Why aren’t our schools—elementary, middle and senior high, our best colleges and universities, those that employ the most gifted teachers—teaching students real understanding about the human mind and human nature? Why are not students at all levels taught how to prevent problems before they arise? Why don’t mental health practitioners know the cause for stress, anxiety and depression? What should parents and modern education be teaching that is now not being taught? What is missing in our modern education?

Thousand of years ago, God gave the Prophet Hosea a remarkable look at our 21st-century society. Writing for God, this man tells us this about ourselves: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge …” (Hosea 4:6; English Standard Version). Hosea saw a vivid, horrible picture: Our people would be destroyed—failing mentally and spiritually, perishing physically—because of the lack of knowledge.

Take careful note: This verse does not say there would be no knowledge. In fact, our world is glutted with knowledge. What does this prophet of God mean? Read the rest of the verse. Hosea shows that people are failing and perishing because they are rejecting knowledge—the knowledge that comes directly from God: true spiritual knowledge. Our people are rejecting God’s knowledge, the firm foundation for all worthwhile education.

This is not a new problem. In fact, it is as old as man’s appearance on Earth. Describing humanity’s rejection of God, the Apostle Paul wrote to the citizens of Rome, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28). Since our very beginning, man has cut God and His incredible revelation out of our education. Six thousand years of man’s history show that we have paid a heavy price. Mankind has proven with bloody and sorrowful history that we do not know how to get along with each other or deal with our human problems. Do we see why?

Cut Off From God

In our modern education we have replaced God with the unprovable theory of evolution. We have tried to explain the existence of the universe and man without God, cutting ourselves off from the source we need most!

To solve our problems—fears, anxiety, worry and depression—we need to know: Who and what is God? What and why is man? Why is there such evil in this world? Did God create a devil? Man needs to know the answers to these questions. God has clearly given truthful answers—in every millennium to every generation (Acts 3:21). Yet we don’t like hearing it from God.

When people get into serious personal conflict, it is easy to blame others—even God. Yet, God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Of all things, He wants to help us prevent problems and, when we fall into them, to help us out of them. There are spiritual principles that lead to sound mental health. There are spiritual laws governing true success. There is a way to live that brings hope, joy, happiness and peace of mind. God wants all mankind to live an abundant, rewarding life. To do so, we must learn to obey God and do things His way. Yet, millions worldwide unknowingly violate the spiritual principles and laws that would produce positive results.

All men, women, teens and children must come to know that excessive fear, worry, chronic stress and depression—for the vast majority of people—are spiritual problems that need spiritual knowledge to solve. God greatly desires to give us that kind of education. This incredible knowledge is revealed within the pages of the Book of books, the Holy Bible.

Author of Gloom

In the Bible, it is revealed that God is Creator. He designed and brought into existence the vast universe and the Earth—all that we can see with our eyes (Genesis 1:1). However, before the material creation God created brilliant and powerful spirit beings, angels with great authority to help govern Earth and eventually the universe. God trained one angel—the most wise and powerful He could create, Lucifer—to administer His laws and government on Earth. God placed him on a throne and gave him one third of all the angels to rule over. The Latin name Lucifer means light-bringer. This being was to rule, lead and teach the truth to the angels under him. Their job was to beautify and preserve Earth in order to qualify to rule the universe.

Yet, Lucifer and his angels rebelled against God’s purpose (Revelation 12:4). Lucifer became Satan the devil; his angels became demons. They rejected God’s revealed way of life of giving, helping, sharing and cooperation, and pursued their own ways of selfishly getting, competition, vanity, covetousness and greed. With minds now perverted with wrong thinking—strife, resentment of authority, bitterness, selfishness and violence—they set out to dethrone God and rule the universe their way. However, they started a war they could not win. God in His superior power cast them back to Earth. Peter tells us, “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but … committed them to chains of gloomy darkness …” (2 Peter 2:4; esv). You can read of this great rebellion in Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. Jesus Christ describes Satan’s fall in Luke 10:18.

Man’s Purpose

After witnessing and experiencing this incredible angelic tragedy, God created man with awesome purpose. Yet ever since, Satan and his perverted, evil demons, having lost the understanding and power to do good, have worked diligently and stealthily to keep humanity from understanding the purpose for human existence (2 Corinthians 4:4). God created man with a nearly unbelievable, incredible potential. Satan and his demon armies know this and hate all humanity because of it.

This is knowledge that only God can reveal. Mankind can never uncover such understanding. Our knowledge production is limited to what we can learn through our five senses.

Man is not an animal. Man is made after the God kind. Under direct inspiration from God, Moses records the divine act of man’s special creation: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Men, women and children are created in God’s image.

Herbert W. Armstrong, in his breathtaking book Mystery of the Ages, explained, “Why did the Creator God put man on the Earth? For God’s ultimate supreme purpose of reproducing Himself—of re-creating Himself, as it were, by the supreme objective of creating the righteous divine character ultimately in millions unnumbered begotten and born children who shall become God beings, members of the God Family.” For the full details on this subject, you may obtain a copy of Mystery of the Ages free upon request.

God recognized that when Satan and his angels failed to complete their purpose, only God beings with character like His own could be relied upon to rule and preserve His creation. So God planned a family. Mr. Armstrong continued, “Man was to improve the physical Earth as God gave it to him, finishing its creation (which sinning angels had deliberately refused to do) and in so doing, to restore the government of God, with God’s way of life; and further, in the very process finishing the creation of man by the development of God’s holy, righteous character, with man’s own assent.” Amazing. This is God-revealed knowledge that only a few fully understand today. You need a personal copy of Mystery of the Ages!

Under Satan’s Sway

Genesis 2 shows that God fully explained His purpose to Adam and Eve. He revealed to them His way of life (symbolized by the tree of life and codified by the Ten Commandments) as opposed to Satan’s way (symbolized by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) (verses 9-16). Our first parents were required to make a choice: Follow God, or follow Satan. Genesis 3 shows that the cunning Satan deceived Eve into making the wrong choice by teaching her that she was an immortal soul and could not die (verses 4-5). Yet Adam was not deceived: He chose to follow his wife and believe Satan (1 Timothy 2:14). Tragically, Adam and Eve rejected God and His revealed knowledge. By doing so, they made the same disastrous decision for all humanity.

When Adam and Eve made their choice, God sentenced mankind to 6,000 years of being cut off from Him and the tree of life, and being prey to Satan’s sway (Genesis 3:22). God allowed man to go his own way and build his own society, culture, government, religion and education, yet under the influence of Satan’s attitude of disobedience and rebellion.

Satan has been very successful in deceiving this whole world in the same manner he did Eve (Revelation 12:9). He has successfully swayed society to believe that he is God—to reject the true God and His spiritual laws that would bring world peace, cooperation among people and nations, happiness, joy and true success. So, we have a world filled with man’s laws and materialistic knowledge, but full of hate, violence and immense human suffering—including mental breakdown.

We must know how the devil works. Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He and the demons are the spirit behind human rebellion, hatred, tensions and violence (Ephesians 6:12). It is their specific goal to influence all mankind to embrace false knowledge, wrong attitudes and injurious values, and to sin. Satan inspires resentment to authority, lust, greed, fear and hopelessness. He transmits negative impulses, feelings and gloomy moods to unsuspecting minds.

No wonder mental health professionals do not understand why patients are negative and depressed.

Living to Get

When Adam and Eve rejected God and His laws and government, they chose to rely on themselves. Believing that they were just like God, they trusted in their own materialistic knowledge and understanding to decide what was right and wrong (Genesis 3:6). Adam and Eve built a life without God. They did not understand that Satan was leading them down a path to destruction. When our first parents went their own way, they lost the spiritual understanding of how to live, how to solve problems—how to relinquish fears and to satisfy needs.

Likewise, the majority of mankind has sought to find personal security, prosperity and fulfillment through Satan’s way of get—competition, strife, envy and jealousy. The spiritual knowledge of how to properly love God and fellow man escapes them. So most people trust in their own human strength, talents and abilities, often to the detriment of others. Without God’s instruction and power, people live their daily lives limited by their own knowledge, wisdom, physical strength and resources to solve their problems. Millions have based their lives on values, ideas and reasoning that eventually produce problems they lack the resources to solve.

It is inevitable. The day comes when a person wakes up to the fact that his thinking, his resources, his ideas, his philosophy, his human strength or the people he has trusted in are extremely limited and transitory and cannot help him. The results for millions are unresolved anxieties, fear and depression.

Analyze your life. Now is the perfect time; do not delay. Do you have a solid relationship with the great Creator God of love, law and order? Look at your values, ways of thinking and lifestyle that could be setting you up to experience fears, hopelessness and depression. Is your primary focus on yourself—your needs—your desires? Or are you a positive person who seeks to build up society and encourage others? Are you putting your trust and hope in some idea, person or material things that could quickly be taken away? There exist eternal values and things that never fade away.

The Way Out

The truth is, most humans put their deepest trust, find their identity or build their feelings of self-worth in themselves, some other human being, or material possessions. Yet deep down, all human beings know they have deep-seated secret weaknesses in which they can have no confidence. Eventually trusted loved ones, friends and work associates fail us, discourage us, even lie to us. Now, with several nations facing severe economic problems, even continuing prosperity is fleeing the scene.

To come out of depression, to overcome fear and anxiety, you must find lasting spiritual purpose and hope for your life. We all must face the reality that physical health and beauty, our social network of people and material prosperity can be taken from us in an instant. However, an active, deeply satisfying spiritual life, closely bonded to God, will provide lasting stability and power to help us deal with problems confidently and securely.

Take the time—right now—to seek out and embrace a true, deeply spiritual way of living. If you honestly want to come out of depression, forsake fear and worry, and eliminate anxiety, then get your life right with God. God will teach you how to solve even the most difficult problem. Jesus Christ promises: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32; esv). Believe us: There is freedom from fear, worry, anxiety and depression. The choice is yours.