Is Depression a Sin?

It does not take long after the Feast for Satan’s attacks upon God’s children to resume, does it?  If we are truly blessed, we get a respite during the entire Feast that can carry us on through the winter months.  However, it is not unusual for some to experience “post-Feast blues”.

Isn’t it really sad that some who falsely claim to be a part of the Church of God (COG) would allow themselves to be tools of Satan and attack people for feeling a bit down after such an emotionally charged event like the Feast?  Isn’t it sad that false teachers coming in wolve’s clothing would spiritually devour those who are the weakest in the flock, just like their father, the greatest terrorist of all, picks on the weak and defenseless?  Like spiritual Amalekites, they choose the children, the aged and infirmed and attack those who straggle in the rear, showing the cowards they are.  Seriously, how low can some people go to prove they do not have and probably never had the love of God in them?

God has shown me that He is a God of mercy and compassion, showing love to the poor, the fatherless, the widow and any others who are unable to defend themselves and yet are willing to turn to Him!  To get on the wrong side of that equation is to invite judgment of a severe kind.

Some of the reasons for the post-Feast blues are rather obvious.  The Feast is such a spiritual and emotional high for many.  It is anticipated months in advance.  Yet, it goes far too quickly.  Afterwards, it is back to “reality”.  That reality can be dealing with illness, whether of one’s self or a loved one, unemployment (sometimes because we insist upon keeping God’s festivals), stress caused by catching up on work/schoolwork, accumulated mail and unpaid bills, people who are habitually coming from a very bad frame of mind  or things as mild as returning to the ho-hum meals and living conditions that fall below what we just enjoyed for a short while.

This is a bit like blaming the victim, isn’t it?  People who have been hurt and wounded by the world are supposed to just “buck up”, “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and “face things head-on”, if you believe this load of stuff.  However, the Bible says not only are we supposed to call upon God to lift us up, because we cannot lift ourselves up, but God working through the Church, the members that make up the Body, should help to lift up those who are down!

By attacking people for feeling down, it actually drives them further into guilt, shame and/or anger rather than following the Apostle Paul’s instructions.

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

~ 1Co 14:26

Hopefully, it is not because we were not spiritually fed during the eight days we attended the Feast that gives us the blues.  Hopefully, that food was sufficient to carry us through this present world that stands in such contrast to what the Feast of Tabernacles pictures.  However, it is possible that the weight of the world is more than one individual can carry.

We are to hate this world.  Of course, that does not mean we are to hate the people in it.  However, we are to hate the world’s systems and the suffering the world produces.  This alone can dampen our joy.

Of course, “the blues” is usually a temporary thing that lasts until we get back into the swing of things.  We move on in life and deal with the joys and the sorrows of the moment.  Yet, before long we start thinking about the next set of holy days, don’t we?  That picks us up and helps us to carry forward as well.

What if we cannot shake the blues, however?  Well, that my friends is called depression.  It may or may not happen immediately after the Feast, but it has been shown that during the winter months depression is more common.  There is even a condition called “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD), and the National Institute of Health says of SAD:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter.

People who live in places with long winter nights are at greater risk for SAD. A less common form of the disorder involves depression during the summer months.

However, depression is not just restricted to the winter months, is it?  No, it can happen at any time of year, and it may be triggered by almost any type of stress.  Again, the NIH says about depression:

Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods.

There are those who would even claim that depression is a sin.  Indeed, if someone mocks the idea of the post-Feast blues, are they not making the same claim?  Are they not part of the problem rather than being part of the solution?  Are they not wolves in sheep’s clothing?

In fact, just reading the Book of Psalms, one comes face to face with David’s down moments!  Here is a man presented as a man after God’s own heart, yet he was downright angry and depressed at times!  We also see the key in dealing with depression and anger in the Psalms, though, as he always turned his problems over to God.

Was Job depressed?

3 May the day I was born perish,
and the night when they said,
“A boy is conceived.”
4 If only that day had turned to darkness!
May God above not care about it,
or light shine on it.
5 May darkness and gloom reclaim it,
and a cloud settle over it.
May an eclipse of the sunterrify it.
6 If only darkness had taken that night away!
May it not appearamong the days of the year
or be listed in the calendar.

11 Why was I not stillborn;
why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?

~ Job 3:3-6, 11 (HCSB)

Doesn’t that sound cheery?  Does that not sound like a man who was rejoicing?  Of course not!

How about Jonah?

4 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious. 2 He prayed to the LORD: “Please, LORD, isn’t this what I said while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster. 3 And now,Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

~ Jon 4:1-3 (HCSB)

More good cheer, huh?  Did God chew out Jonah for acting like a child?  For being upset?  For becoming depressed and pouting?  I think we all know the answer.

2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severelyif I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!”

3 Then Elijah became afraidand immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-shebathat belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, 4 but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! LORD, take my life,for I’m no better than my fathers.”

~ 1Ki 19:2-4 (HCSB)

So, here is where God told Elijah to buck up, pull up himself by his bootstraps and act like a man, right?

Again, I think we know the answer.

So, if God Almighty, Who is always perfect, edifies and reassures His followers even in the worst of times, then whose spirit is it that will attack and demean someone who is already down?  Who kicks a person when they are down?  Is that God’s Holy Spirit?

Again, what are we commanded to do, brethren?

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

~ 1Th 5:11 (HCSB)

And if we do not obey, then what are we doing?  So, why listen to false teachers who would lead us to disobedience?

14 thoughts on “Is Depression a Sin?

  • maiuuislandgirl

    John..after reading a particular person’s blog earlier this week, I have promised myself never to go there about being knocked down then kicked senseless!! that man has no mercy or compassion in him at all, and I shudder to think how harshly God will judge him for all the harshness and self righteousness he has so far displayed… and spewed the doctrine of a hateful God who has no love in Him and can’t wait to crush those who can’t live up to the perfection He models..Brethren who make the mistake of opening a “door” to their mind and allowing his brand of so called teaching will soon become fearful and very afraid.. always ” looking over their shoulder” for the ” hammer ” to fall . it is so anti God and in my opinion, brethren should avoid him if they value peace of mind and spiritual soundness..

  • maiuuislandgirl

    as for the subject of seems to come to everyone at one time of their life or can be tied as you said , to events in our lives..sickness, death, and other earth shaking things..I agree with you, that when one of the “members” are suffering, we are told to comfort and encourage them..that what draws us closer together, having care and concern for other brethren. as for having “post Feast Depression” why wouldn’t the Feast there is joy, fellowship and love for 8 days..we experience what the WT will be like and we rejoice! after leaving, we come back to a world that is “broken” and no matter what human beings do, it can’t be fixed..and because we live in this broken world, we experience the hardships and pain, sometimes because of the suffering of unconverted relatives or because of our beliefs..Christ didn’t ask for us to be taken out of this world, but to keep us in the Father’s name and from the evil one..we like the Israelites in Egypt who suffered through the first 3 plagues will suffer till Christ returns..we understand this but as was said ” the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” I think we all pray for more spiritual strength to withstand what is coming as the end draws near and to help the little ones who might falter.

  • Andrew

    Wow. I completely missed that (I don’t give him much thought these days–I might skim some posts every few days, but that’s about it).

    If anything, I’m shocked by those that don’t come home feeling some post-Feast letdown. The Feast is such a spiritual high, and being around brethren that you don’t get to see often, and getting that vision… Reality is a cold, hard smack. It definitely impacts the younger generation as most of us are isolated from our friends and the Feast is one of the few times that we can be around like-minded peers and see those whom we’ve developed close bonds with. Beyond that, as none of us are perfect, it’s never fun getting home and finding that the Old Man got there first and is waiting on the couch for you.

    It amazes me that he could twist something that everyone can relate to and understand and turn it to his agenda. Though maybe I shouldn’t be shocked. It is his modus operandi.

  • Big Red
    Big Red

    This doesn’t quite fit, and I don’t remember the exact quote. But HWA said that if you slip and fall, Jesus doesn’t kick you the road; He helps you get back up. While HWA was talking about sin, of course, I think the same principle applies. We’re walking down this long road together. If somebody falters, how do you treat them? It shows how much you really care about them.

    I’m not sure whom you guys are talking about. Malm? The same thing could be said of Flurry. They lose as many people as they have coming in. That’s why the PCG keeps churning sand.

  • Norbert

    Curiously, I just did a google search on “cog post feast blues”. This blog was is in the results along with other cog sites. The second result that turned up was a UCG article on the topic. It is entitled “Stay in the Feast Mindset all Year Long”. It has an encouraging tone with a fair bit of practical advice. Compared to Malm’s writing where he emphatically accuses many in the cogs as revealing themself to be selfish in their actions.

    If it weren’t for people sometimes feeding him legitmate issues that normally wouldn’t be publicized anywhere else, I’d wouldn’t be visiting his blog as much as I do.

    What if it’s only a vocal minority?

    • John D

      @Norbert: The choice to look up an unnamed blog is your prerogative. I can neither stop you nor cause you to do so. My mission to point out false teachers and their false teachings has not changed.

      However, most of all, I disagree with both your definition of “legitmate issues” and the idea that countering anyone’s lies constitutes feeding anything to such an individual.

      • Norbert

        Sometimes people from the major cogs do contact him and offer him information about issues. Occassionaly that information is relevant in making a judgement and coming to a conclusion about where they should stand on the matter. For instance the events occuring in the UCG prior to Cogwa’s formation.

        Will you confirm or deny that your blog topic here is in response, even in part, to what James Malm wrote?

        • John D

          @Norbert: I would have hoped by now that you would understand that pointing out false teachers is of limited value. If people stop going to one, they will undoubtedly become ensnared by another. Pointing out the falsehood of their teachings, however, equips a person to see the deception no matter the source.

          HWA unfortunately allowed high ranking ministers to create an organization somewhat based upon his personality. How that came about is not the point, but it was an obvious mix of various human weaknesses both within him and his inner circle. It is the main reason that some outside WCG considered it a cult, while the current splinters are less likely to be labeled as such (of course, the word “cult” is both overloaded and with differing definitions, but I am referring more to the negative connotation rather than the theological definition).

          When HWA died, the immediate appeal of Joe Tkach was to HWA and his “18 truths”. While nothing would have seemed out of order by doing so at the time, hindsight forces us to see clearly that it was a ploy to lay the groundwork for changes to later come (consciously or unconsciously, I should add).

          Because of the focus of personality rather than doctrine, how many were fooled into changing? If they truly had a love of the truth and not an admiration for a man, could they have easily been fooled?

          When Gerald Flurry left, was it over doctrine? He claimed it to be so, didn’t he? However, whose doctrine? God’s or HWA’s? Did he sue WCG over the use of the Bible, or over the words of a dead man? Flurry only hangs onto power because he put HWA up on a pedestal. Once a man became the center of focus, it was easy for him to slip into the limelight to be that man.

          I could keep going, couldn’t I? The COG landscape is full of people who get away with what they do simply because there are people who will gravitate towards personalities rather than the truth.

          There is the saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” If this applies to Malm, then let the shoe color be evident to all. To center the attention upon a man overly much detracts from the real message that there are spiritual Amalekites out there who would gladly wound and kill the weakest amongst us. Which is profitable? Pointing out one Amalekite or pointing out how to identify characteristics of many Amalekites?

  • Todd Sauve
    Todd Sauve

    Hi John,

    I went to Malm’s site after reading a few of the comments but did not find anything relating to what you are saying in this post. So I am assuming that it is not Malm that you are speaking about this time, but I may be wrong.

    I never read anything on Malm’s site anymore. I actually quit after only a few visits because he is obviously a fellow looking for a following, and he does so by concentrating on virtually every burp (or whatever) coming from the Middle East and relating it to prophecy. But also by criticizing virtually every little misstep he perceives any COG organization of making. He is not helping anyone to grow spiritually by doing these things. He isn’t really interested in that. He just wants attention and whatever money he can talk people into giving him.

    I hope he will grow up but I doubt this will happen. When we decide to set ourselves up as THE judge (criticizer) of the churches, we step well outside the boundaries God sets for us as disciples. It is fine to acknowledge mistakes and offer constructive criticism but this does not appear to be what he is interested in. He wants to be a POWERFUL spokesman for a large number of church members.

    Thus, it seems to me, our best way to help him is to ignore him. Perhaps God will step in and correct him.

    Personally, I think if you removed the link to his site from the top of your blog site, it would be a huge step forward in dealing effectively with him.

    I understand that people like him can be a burr under our saddles but giving him more attention on this website is just that: Giving him more attention.

    An occasional criticism is OK but I think you are perhaps too attentive to his postings.

    Just my observations. :)

    Todd Sauve in Calgary

    • John D

      Todd Sauve wrote: “Personally, I think if you removed the link to his site from the top of your blog site, it would be a huge step forward in dealing effectively with him.”

      Good point. I’ll remove it now.

  • Todd Sauve
    Todd Sauve

    Oops! I see that it is Malm who wrote a column on the PFBs. Oh well, I’ve spoken enough about him. :)

  • maiuuislandgirl

    John..a good friend ( an elder’s wife) informed me that about 60 people went to Canada to keep the Feast with Malm, brethren from All the COG groups, even two from Flurry incredible as that might seem. Ministers are beginning to look at Malm with ” new eyes” as in.. a spiritual danger to their congregations..that being said..I agree with you , that it is more important that brethren are warned ( as spoken in God’s Word) to be aware of the “characteristics” of those who are false teachers, who claim to come in His Name and represent Him. If we are spiritually aware we will be forearmed and forewarned, able to “discern” the falsehoods and the deceit. Each of us are responsible for our spiritual health in the end,but against satan, we need all the help from brethren and especially from the Father and Christ..As one Minister said, those whom the Father has called at this time ( and He knows who they are) have one shot at this calling..there is no other left to us..I am not saying that all who have been in God’s church and have left are “lost”, but that the Father knows Who He has called and Who has answered and are now held responsible for this “calling” Those of us who feel that He has given us this Calling need to do all we can to insure our success with the help of Christ and the Father, because in the end, it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

    • John D

      @maiuuislandgirl: I admit I did not know about him having a Feast site this year. I thought he was shooting for next. Either way, it’s been obvious for some time that he wants to start his own church. Only the very blind would not see that.

      Having said that, those who might view him as “competition” says more about any given ministry than it does about him. A spiritual danger, certainly, but that too can be taken too far. God sifts and sorts, and He knows who is His own. That does not mean that God will not warn those who are lost, but it is also true that you cannot lose anyone or anything that was not yours to begin with.

  • Andrew

    It is my understanding that the elder’s wife is mistaken in that statement. Malm made it clear many times that he was not setting anything up for this year (as he didn’t plan for it, but expected to flee this fall), but would start next year with the DUB and FoT and has been heavily making plans for that. I think this is misunderstood in that Malm went and kept the Feast in some location with his son (and likely with another COG group as he’s apt to do), and that there’s about 60 people in a secret Facebook group of acolytes.

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