Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

Last Sunday I gave a talk in my church at the request of my bishop. The assigned topic was “The Five Elements of Missionary Preparation,” presumably for the benefit of young men and women.

I have been concerned, however, that many of our young people who earnestly want to serve missions cannot do so for medical and other reasons beyond their control. They often feel disheartened as a result. I thus wanted to reassure them that there are plenty of other ways for them to serve the Lord and their fellow man.

From there, it was an easy step to reach out to all those in the congregation who are suffering from health problems or other afflictions.

I am including a link to my written talk. The one I actually gave had some minor variations. And I gave the talk with a depth of emotion that the written words may be unable to convey.

Yes, I strayed from the assigned topic, but several of the members were moved to tears. We are a very perfection-driven people in my church. We need to pause and admit that we are imperfect people living in a fallen world. And acknowledge that salvation comes only through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Download Link/Tom_talk2013.pdf

– Tom Irvine

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Adversity is a common theme in the scriptures.

Jesus taught “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

James declared “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11)

Paul proclaimed “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Romans 5:3)

Paul further described his trials.

2 Corinthians 11

[25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
[26] In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
[27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
[28] Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
[30] If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

* * *
Over the years, I have struggled with and against my own set of tribulations. I have fallen vastly short of the heroic examples set by Job and Paul in patiently enduring adversity.

I have experience prolonged rumination over my own trials, especially those resulting from negative encounters with authority figures.

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As Christians, we often pray to our Heavenly Father that He will deliver us from adversity. There is merit in these prayers.

But perhaps we should pray instead that the Lord will help us understand the purpose of our tribulation.

We should ask ourselves “What is the lesson to be learned from this vexing experience?”

When we understand and accept the purpose, then the trial may depart from us. But even if the adversity persists, we will at least have peace.

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The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
– William Arthur Ward

Our petitions to the Lord should be for guidance in adjusting our sails.

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My wife and I recently completed a course for depression based on a program developed by Dr. Neil Nedley.

Dr. Nedley is both an M.D. and a devout Christian.

Yes, I firmly believe we should all exercise, eat properly, study scriptures, and follow the other steps which Dr. Nedley has wisely taught.

We should all try our best to lead happy and healthy lifestyles.

But I also believe that rumination can serve a useful purpose.

My own rumination has sharpened my mind and help me to define and develop my own value system.

I am beginning to be grateful for the painful experiences that I have had.

I would never have chosen these experiences, but I must have needed them in some way.

* * *
Aristotle taught in the fourth century B.C. “that all men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.”

Jesus Christ himself was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

He lamented:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37).

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And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.

Doctrine & Covenants 88:15

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Mark 5

[1] And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.
[2] And when he [Jesus Christ] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,
[3] Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
[4] Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
[5] And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
[6] But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,
[7] And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
[8] For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
[9] And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
[10] And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
[11] Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
[12] And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
[13] And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
[14] And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.
[15] And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

* * *

Many people today suffer from depression. Psychologists have developed a method called cognitive behavioral therapy to treat depressed patients. Medical doctors may prescribe SSRI medication to these same patients. Other counselors teach that exercise, healthy diet, proper sleep, and massage therapy are the answer. Each of these treatments has merit.

But certain types of depression have deep spiritual causes. In these cases, the patients must ultimately solve their spiritual problem in order to be cured from depression. The secular therapies are thus at best a means to strengthen the patients so that they can then solve their foundational spiritual problems.

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What is the source of a person’s spiritual problems? There are many possibilities.

Two categories are:

1.  A person’s own sins
2.  Sins afflicted on that person by others

The consequences of one’s own sins have been dealt with repeatedly in the scriptures, as well as by modern-day clergy.

Dealing with the abuse that one has suffered due to the sins of others is a more problematic topic. Such abuse can come from family members, schoolmates, bosses, political leaders, or even trusted clergy. Bullying behavior may occur in any of these relationships.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.  Doctrine & Covenants 121:39

The problem with abuse is that it may create an opening in the soul of the victim for a legion of demons to enter and torment the victim for many years, or even a lifetime. The victim may then in effect live among tombs, which are monuments that perpetually bring to remembrance the pain of the abuse.

The victim may feel separated from God and unloved by Him.

Yes, the victim must forgive the abuser. There are myriad scriptures which teach the necessity of forgiveness, including Matthew 6:14, Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 6:37.

But the healing process is much more comprehensive and must be holistic.

Wallowing in self-pity is counterproductive, but the victim has a right and need to seek out a supporting group of others who will acknowledge that that his or her pain is real.

Too often the victims are blamed for taking offense, with little or no responsibility directed to the abuser.  People who so judge the victims add to the pain inflicted by the abuser himself.

The victim may also need to physically separate himself from the abuser, particularly if the abuse is chronic.  The abuse may even serve as a needed catalyst in the victim’s life, so that he can move on to a better situation.

Some would recommend that the victim write a letter to the abuser and then destroy the letter without sending it.

But the author of this blog suggests that the letter should be sent.  However, the victim should not expect any contrition from the abuser.  If the abuser were compassionate and caring, then he would not have comitted the abuse in the first place.

The victim must realize that the abuser was not acting as an agent of God, even if the abuser was professing to act in God’s name.

The victim must understand that his torment is the result of the demonic spirits inflicted upon him by the abuser.

The victim must realize that the abuser is tormented by his own demonic spirits.

Understanding the process of demonic transference is a key to the moving forward through the healing steps.

Again, the victim must forgive the abuser as part of the healing process.

The victim must also embrace the healing power of Jesus Christ through prayer, meditation and scripture study.

The light of Christ casts out the darkness of Satan.

(This section is based in part on sermons given by Katie Souza, to whom the author expresses gratitude.)

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Exodus 15:26

. . . for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

* * *

Malachi 4:2

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness (Jesus Christ) arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

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Psalm 143

[1] Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
[2] And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
[3] For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
[4] Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.
[5] I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
[6] I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
[7] Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
[8] Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
[9] Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
[10] Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.
[11] Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
[12] And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

* * *

As I search the holy scriptures,
May thy mercy be revealed.
Soothe my troubled heart and spirit;
May my unseen wounds be healed.

From LDS Hymns, As I Search the Holy Scriptures

* * *

We are not meant to stay wounded. We are supposed to move through our tragedies and challenges and to help each other move through the many painful episodes of our lives. By remaining stuck in the power of our wounds, we block our own transformation. We overlook the greater gifts inherent in our wounds — the strength to overcome them and the lessons that we are meant to receive through them. Wounds are the means through which we enter the hearts of other people. They are meant to teach us to become compassionate and wise.

~ Caroline Myss

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“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”

– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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– Tom Irvine

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