Does the Bible establish proven ways to help the depressed? I discovered five restorative habits from the narrative on Jabez. A recent article in Time Healthland reported findings from a new study on college students with depressive symptoms — recently described by its authors in the New YorkTimes — that they compulsively check email, watch many videos, spend a lot of time playing games and chatting, and frequently switch back and forth between applications. But there are indeed Bible habits that, if prayerfully applied, can be curative.
I Chronicles 4 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
Jabez excelled though born in very depressive circumstances (details are not given of causes of a deep and foundational genre of depression – it does not seem to matter) for it is said he was in spite of this – more honourable than his siblings.He did not need to seek expansion because he was already ahead in many ways, but Jabez was one to take risks to move forward. He did not thirst for blessings because he was in a rut … he simply wanted what God wanted for his life…knowing that is far more than we often imagine. Therein lies an important principle to shine out of depressive circumstances and that is to cultivate the habit of going to God for more. Going to God for more is neither pride nor disobedience. Rather it tells God who always has far more to give that we can ever be ready for, that we are set to be equipped for another mission impossible.
Jabez was not just asking for resources, but by seeking an enlargement of his coast, he was seeking God for expanded accountability. Seeking a greater and farther reach for impact and influence is not cheap … it will require more – emotionally, physically, financially… in all categories– and especially in our mind-set. Jabez wanted God’s hand with him i.e. to be God’s battle axe, acknowledging that evil was present all around him and especially in the places God’s hand will move him, but God will keep him from evil. Many do not see evil as evil and rather justify it or downplay it. Finally, Jabez acknowledges that blessings can cause even more depression without God’s help. God must grant our pleas.
In summary, I listed five easy to remember points as you go to God for His panacea for depression.
- Challenge your current scope of influence – seek through prayer for more, be ready to be used in unfamiliar terrain. Be unafraid to start afresh. Put the past victories and hurt behind you. Practice the habit of new beginnings.
- Be aware of the presence and mighty hand of God and lean on that strength, permitting that hand to take you where it wills. Practice the habit of devotion and quiet times to hear God and discern his leadings for you. Be easy to lead. Learn to suffer as God’s Battle axe.
- Evil is ever present and – good as you are – you were not made to defeat it without the Keeper of Israel. Do not trivialise the impact of evil or be anaesthetized to imagine you are immune. Ask God to always keep you from evil. Appreciate the victory in Christ and by His blood over and in spite of evil rather than justifying, accepting or underestimating evil and their destructive arrows. Practise the habit of being watchful.
- There are blessings that grieve and those that add no sorrow. Simply dreaming big is foolhardy if God will not be there to help apply the brakes. The richest people can be the most vulnerable. Practice the habit of rejoicing in God’s brakes and not just in what you can get from Him.
- Finally, God was pleased to grant Jabez that which he asked for. Practice the habit of living to please God. Our righteousness are like filthy rags, but simply asking God “ is what I am doing pleasing you?” can result in unexpected conversations. God is God and not the butler or errand boy. Fear and respect Him. Worship Him and Him alone.
The Bible says little of Jabez. But the testimony that God granted his request is enough to appreciate that he lived in a joy that defied depressive circumstances … complex plots that could not reach far enough to pull him down. Learn from Jabez. Do not hold your circumstances responsible … rather blame your self-justified docility – confused for virtuous meekness.
Wake up, stop staring at your computer screen … or randomly trying out new applications … or rehashing yesterday’s glitch. Get ready for something new. Celebrate the truth that the best of God is still in your future. Enjoy reading Havard Business review article. Happiness will not be downloaded.