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Christian Life: "Out of the Miry Bog": Dealing with Depression Part one of a three-part sermon series: "Coping as a Christian")

By Maxie Dunnam
Text: Psalms 22:1-5

I've told you this story before, but it's such a good one, it deserves repeating. And it's the best story I know to introduce the sermon this morning.

It's the story of the business man whose wife was experiencing depression. She began to mope around and be sad, lifeless -- no light in her eyes -- no spring in her step -- joyless. It became so bad that this "man of the world" did what any sophisticated person would do. He made an appointment with the psychiatrist. On the appointed day, they went to the psychiatrist's office, sat down with him and began to talk. It wasn't long before the wise doctor realized what the problem was.

So, without saying a word, he simply stood, walked over in front of the woman's chair, signaled her to stand, took her by the hands, looked at her in the eyes for a long time, then gathered her into his arms and gave her a big, warm hug.

You could see the change come over the woman. Her face softened, her eyes lit up, she immediately relaxed. Her whole face glowed.

Stepping back, the doctor said to the husband, "See, that's all she needs."

With that, the man said, "Okay, I'll bring her in Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, but I have to play golf on the other afternoons."

Depression is the most common emotional problem in America today. The hospitals are full of persons who are severely depressed. But even those who are hospitalized, along with those who are under the care of a doctor for this malady, represent only a tiny portion of our population who are weighed down by depression, and are functioning far below the level of effectiveness as persons.

In the 4th Century B.C., Hippocrates coined the term, "melancholia." We may euphemistically refer to it as "the blues" or "a slump" or "feeling gloomy." More accurately, the experience is depression. And it isn't the malady of a particular class of people. It attacks the rich and the poor. It has no respect for race or creed or nationality. Young people suffer almost as much as adults. Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause for the death of teenagers?

For some, depression is a sporadic occurrence; for others, it is chronic. For some it is severe, demanding professional medical, medical and psychiatric help; for others, it is mild but still strong enough to make life tough and oppressive.

In its severity, it makes us impotent; even in its mildness it colors our lives gray and robs us of joy and meaning.

Since it is so common, how might we deal with depression?

I.

Let's get a perspective on our problem and the theme of our sermon. I've titled the sermon, "Out of the Miry Bog." Psalms 22 is our scripture lesson, but this image comes from Psalms 40. Listen to the beginning verses of that Psalm:

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