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Singing the blues

June 22, 2002|By Basil Bell, special to this newspaper

Have you ever felt bad and didn't know why you were feeling so bad? Have you had days when all you want to do is sing the blues?

The psalmist says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Hope thou in God." (Psalm 42:5) The psalmist pictures himself as one cast down and under the yoke of depression.

Depression is when you have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism and a loss of interest in life. Symptoms of depression include long-lasting crying spells, fatigue, loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities including sex, lack of concentration and thoughts of suicide or death. Ever felt it?

In 1971 12 percent of the population was diagnosed with depression. In 1999 that statistic had jumped to 20 percent. That means that more than 50 million people in America suffer from significant bouts of depression every year.


There are a lot of things that can lead one into depression. Life changes such as the birth of a baby, divorce, retirement, loss of a job or the death of a loved one. You can become depressed because of feelings of guilt, worry about financial problems, chronic or acute medical conditions, abuse of alcohol, drugs and some medications. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can lead some women to feel depressed. PMS can be ascertained when a woman feels depressed for one half of the month while during the other half of the month she feels fine. (For help with PMS read "Premenstrual Syndrome and Progesterone Therapy" by Dr. Katherine Dalton or look for a medical doctor or treatment center that specializes in the treatment of woman's hormonal problems using natural progesterone.) Those who continue to struggle under a sense of depression owe it to themselves to get professional help.

Depression is especially dangerous when it is linked to guilt. Many people do not feel accepted by God. They think God is out to get them, and that if they don't measure up, He will hit them with a big stick. They picture God as a celestial policeman. Nothing can be further from the truth. The Bible pictures God as a tender father, a benevolent judge and a loving redeemer.

When guilt drives us to God, looking to Him for mercy, then it is good guilt. But when guilt threatens to destroys our sense of personhood, then it is not from God, but from our particular temperament, possibly poor health habits, upbringing or maybe even from the enemy himself.

We need not live under the tyranny of guilt. God wants us to know that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, forgiveness may be ours full and complete. All who come to Christ, God will in no wise cast out. God wants the past to be the past. The Bible teaches that God throws our sins into the depths of the sea. That because of God's infinite generosity in Christ, He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west; and my friends, that is a mighty long ways.

God is for us, and not against us. He understands our sorrows, our heartaches, our broken promises, our guilt and our depression. And God forgives us because He loves us.

God's presence is better than a light and safer than a known way. And even though we walk through the dark shadows of the valley of guilt and depression, we'll fear no evil because God is with us. Our hope is in God.

>> Basil Bell is the pastor of the El Centro and Brawley Seventh-day Adventist Churches.

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