Written by cycleguy on May 7th, 2014

Welcome to a continuing series on Second Chances. In case you are “late to the party,” here are the others. The inspiration. Mine. Daniel. Zee. EileenWolf’s.

Depression is one of those “forgotten” illnesses. The stigma which hung on that word was ugly. It is a bit more understood these days and the stigma is not as great. There are different kinds and degrees of depression. My guest for today is Kari Scare who blogs here. I’m guessing I started reading Kari after seeing her comment elsewhere.  🙂 She is a fantastic writer with a knack for hitting home with biblical truth and practical application. Here is her story:

Learning from Jonah

What do you remember about the story of Jonah from Sunday School? Maybe you remember Jonah’s change of mind toward obedience, him being thrown into the water or spit out by the whale, or the Ninevites’ change of heart toward God. Whatever first comes to mind, I’m guessing it’s not the plant at the end of the story.

The dead plant doesn’t get much attention in Sunday School class. I all but forgot about it until my oldest (now 15) got interested in Veggie Tales around age 3. Now, two things stick out when I think of Jonah.

  1. God is a god of second chances.
  2. Jonah showed the most emotion when the plant died, and we never hear of him again. (Jonah 4)

Jonah got angry when God gave the people of Ninevah a second chance. He got even angrier to the point of death when the shade-giving plant God gave him died. Let’s consider Jonah’s reactions in this story.

  1. He didn’t like having his plans changed.
  2. He played the “I told you so” card with God.
  3. He got embarrassed because what he predicted didn’t happen.
  4. He showed more concern for his own comfort than the spiritual welfare of others.
  5. He knew about God but failed to have a relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, Jonah’s story, especially his anger, reflects my own second-chance story all too well.

My Second Chance Story

For years, I wallowed in depression, refusing to see God’s compassion and mercy in my life. I threw tantrums when my plans were changed, and I hated appearing wrong. What others thought of me drove me to run away and avoid any discomfort. I knew about God – grew up going to church – but the spiritual state of anyone mattered little because caring meant confronting out-of-control emotion, and that mean discomfort. No thanks. I’d rather die.

Over time, God changed my heart from one focused on self to one that cared for others. He defeated my egotistical temper and replaced it with compassion and mercy. Through His Holy Spirit, God showed me the value of discomfort and how it could teach me to truly live. Through His Word, He developed a relationship with me that focused on pleasing Him instead of creating comfort.

I’m not sure what happened to Jonah after the plant died, but I know the same compassion and mercy God had for the Ninevites and that seemed lost on Jonah is the same compassion and mercy He has for me and for anyone who turns to Him.

Now when the plants die in my life and my shaded comfort disappears, God’s compassion and mercy – the avenues of second chances – turn me toward Him. They encourage me to push through embarrassment and toward relationship. God’s compassion and mercy drastically altered the course of my life and they’ll do the same for your life too.

DISCUSSION: What impact has God’s compassion and mercy had upon your life?

Kari has already asked the question for discussion. I’ll add one or two. Have you known someone who has struggled with depression? How did you handle it/encourage getting help?



29 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    Depression is something that I struggle with. Even when I have a reasonably good day where I don’t struggle so much, it is always there, just below the surface. I have tried medication and counseling, but neither have been effective long-term solutions for me.

    • Kari Scare says:

      I’ve been there, Daniel, and know how you feel. Medication didn’t help me either, though counseling did give some benefit but certainly not to get rid of that below-the-surface feeling. Could give you lots of advice… but I’m not sure if that’s where you are right now. I will say that small things add up over time to make a huge difference, and this process is what changed my life. More than that, a constant pursuit of God’s truth kept hope alive. Let me know if you want to talk further via email. Be glad to!

  2. I kind of grew up depressed. I was an unhappy person until I was married, but I didn’t become happy until I came to know Jesus.. I continue to grow happier in The Lord.

  3. Eileen says:

    “Now when the plants die in my life and my shaded comfort disappears, God’s compassion and mercy – the avenues of second chances – turn me toward Him” Really love that Truth. And I love the nugget you pulled from the Jonah story. So many great lessons in there. I can so relate to running when I should have listened instead. Great post.

    • cycleguy says:

      That is an exceptional truth Eileen. I never thought of it that way before reading this. Thanks for commenting. I’m sure Kari will comment soon.

    • Kari Scare says:

      Thanks, Eileen. I love how even though life can – and should – get uncomfortable, that we can find comfort and be comfortable in God’s loving hands. This makes me want to be brave! When I clear out the clutter in my life and take time to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading, I find that comfort in His grace and mercy.

  4. Kari Scare says:

    Wanted to make a separate comment promoting this post based on Jonah too: http://devotedconversations.com/forty-more-days/#comment-25882. Gives a simple truth that I think can help many of us as we struggle to figure out how to package our messages.

  5. TC Avey says:

    Many in my family (self included) have dealt (or deal with) depression. There are deep roots underneath the symptoms and diagnosis of depression. Even though I’ve worked in the medical field I only know of one sure cure- more of God.
    He can lovingly bring us through the lowest and darkest valleys.

    • Kari Scare says:

      Yes He can, TC! He did me! As I mentioned in an earlier comment, it was through small steps that added up over time to make a huge difference. We can just never give up and lose total hope!

      • cycleguy says:

        Sometimes it is the small steps which make a difference. Too many expect instant healing and sometimes that is not God’s way of doing things.

  6. floyd says:

    I think artistic type people tend toward depression and it runs in families. Mine for sure. Great point about living and seeing beyond yourself. That’s the key for me. That and humility, not so different than what you described so well. Our Father is always the answer, and I think He uses our traits for His perfect will. Proof in this post, Kari. Thanks.

    • Kari Scare says:

      For sure, Floyd. He is an amazing healer. We can trust His perfect guidance through the whole process. If we hold on to the hope He offers, we can keep taking one step at a time we need to find complete healing in His Name. Without that hope, I would not be alive today!

  7. Betty Draper says:

    I don’t think I ever had depression when I was young even though my home life was enough to depress anyone. Since about 50 I have had several bouts of depression. I do talk about it when I get a chance to because every time I do someone always gets back with me for encouragement. I meet more depressed people than none depressed. Just my thinking on that is time is getting shorter, soon God is going to send His Son to get us. Then and only then will depression be stamped out along with hundreds of other ailments brought on by the fall.
    There is hope to rise above depression because of God’s mercy and grace on us. I have several dear friends who will be on meds for depression for the rest of their life here just as my husband will be on heart meds for the rest of his life here. What helped me come to term with depression was understand what took place at the fall. I kinda of wish the Lord had put it in the word, in this world you shall have depression, it’s a fallen world, with fallen people BUT…Good post Kari.

    • cycleguy says:

      I have been blessed not to have ever had depression problems (so far). Nor have I witnessed any in my family.But I have seen tons of people who have faced it-both big and small. From a simple pill to long stays in a ward.I feel for anyone who goes through it or has to watch someone.

    • Kari Scare says:

      God lead me through it, and I really feel like I’ve overcome depression, Betty. Well, not ME, Christ in me. Satan likes to bring it up a lot though, and I just remind Him that neither he nor depression have any power over me.

  8. Rick Dawson says:

    Talk about a fat pitch 🙂

    Kari and I have talked about this topic a fair bit in extensive emails (though it has been a while since the last round), and I think it’s fairly safe to say both she and I have been fairly transparent with our struggles with depression.

    What I find mildly ironic, and always a source of amusement with God’s sense of humor, is that I deal with a lot of depressed people nowadays – many within the ranks of the Christian blogging community – and that only partly as a result of sharing my story. Others manage to find me online or off, and I love it when I get to be a witness to the cloud lifting. Sometimes, though, the process of getting there from where we start is a long one, often filled with one step up, two steps back. When I remind folks that a dance with 3 steps is a waltz, they get a better sense of movement – that they are not stuck – and sometimes that’s all we need is the reminder that (a) we’re moving and (b) someone else is with us, as the sense of isolation and loneliness that accompany major depression is a lie straight from hell (though as someone with mental health training, we’re not supposed to use that language – ask me if I care 🙂 )

    Good job – and Jonah is always a good teaching story! Thanks, Kari and Bill!

    • Kari Scare says:

      Yes, its has been a while, but I’m going to blame your crazy schedule 🙂 Seriously, I hope all is going well for you!

      God definitely reminds me of the journey we’ve taken through others, and He is giving me opportunity to minister & mentor in some interesting ways. I’m learning not to stifle what He wants to do. It’s not outright saying I don’t want to do it, but I can sure distract myself from it if I want to. Anyway, helping others through the journey does so much for my faith, and I am so grateful for my God and what He’s done for me through depression. Does that mean I’m thankful for depression? Weird.

      Thanks, Rick.

      • cycleguy says:

        I love it when people who have experienced things are willing to share their time and stories with others. Thanks you two for doing so.

  9. I have struggled with both depression and anxiety. To this day I remain on an anti-anxiety prescription to help me deal with work-related stress.

    I think the first word of encouragement that I would have is that there is a difference between someone who just likes to worry and someone suffering from a chemical imbalance. Having a chemical imbalance that leads to depression and/or anxiety is a medical illness like so many others. We should not be afraid or ashamed of receiving and taking treatment for them any more than we are for a cold or heart issues.

    The second encouragement is that while many may not voice their struggles with depression and anxiety, you are not alone. You are not damaged goods. You are not beyond God’s love or the love of others.

    As to Kari’s question, I have shared my story numerous times regarding my prodigal journey. Suffice it to say that if it were not for God’s compassion and mercy, my life would have ended my freshman year of college at the end of a rope. God met me there and has brought me to here and now. God’s blessings upon my life too numerous to tell.

    Sorry for the long winded comment!

    • Kari Scare says:

      Depression and anxiety certainly are not simply diseases. For me, it was a combination of chemical issues along with wrong thinking. No one thing can be said to be what helped me but rather a bunch of things. Of course, all came from Jesus, and this is the encouragement. Anyone suffering from these diseases has a journey to take, and Jesus will lead each person through his/her unique journey. There is so much hope in Him, and he is also why I’m alive today.

      • cycleguy says:

        Thanks Dusty for your so-called long-winded comment. I see it as wisdom passed on. I knew of your prodigal journey but don’t recall the end of the rope scenario. Glad God met you and intervened. Your advice is good and I hope others will pick up on it. Thanks for sharing on this all important topic.

      • cycleguy says:

        I know for someone like me, who has never suffered from depression (I certainly can’t count the occasional down in the dumps day as that)your comment here is so helpful. I like that you did not call depression and anxiety diseases. For my good Kari, when counseling others, what do I call them? Maybe you can even address it in a longer post on your blog? Or you can do it here. Or I can have you guest post again and expand on it.

        • Rick Dawson says:

          Actually, Bill? Dis ease (note the gap between the words) is perfectly appropriate as a descriptive term; I do not ascribe to the “name it, pigeonhole it, prescribe for it, be done with it” philosophy so many hold to these days – and please note that anxiety is in a completely different category (though the two can certainly feed one another and are often found together) from major depression.

        • Kari Scare says:

          I like to call them just what they are: Depression or anxiety. I know some people really seem to “own” them and say “my depression” or “my anxiety.” I just refused to do that, but I take that approach with other health issues too. For example, I don’t say “my food allergies,” I just say food allergies. I would be willing to write more on this topic. Maybe we can talk via email? I have some thoughts/questions to explore with you first.