Editor’s Note: In recent years, depression has snuck into our lives, affecting more and more people. Many are tormented by this disease—some lose their hope in life and live in pain, and some even lose their courage to go on living, choosing to commit suicide to end their own lives. Why is it that people experience depression? How should we deal with it, and how can we get rid of the trap of depression?
Depression—A Terrifying Disease
In a report released on March 22, 2018, the World Health Organization said that depression is a very common worldwide disease with over three hundred million people suffering from it. Long-term moderate or severe depression can become a serious condition, and at its worst, can lead to suicide. Nearly 800,000 people die every year from suicide, and it has become the second leading cause of death among populations between the ages of 15 and 29.
Relevant information indicates that the clinical presentation of depression is mainly a depressed mood, which can shift from feeling glum to hopeless and in despair, or even becoming completely fed up with life. This can lead to suicide attempts or suicidal behavior. In some cases, there is clear anxiety or psychomotor agitation, and in serious cases there may be hallucinations, delusions, or other symptoms of psychological disturbances. Many who suffer from depression also share their own internal pain and struggle with their suicidal ideation on a daily basis, as there is a constant internal voice telling them: “Just die, and everything will be better”; “Take that medicine, it’ll be so sweet!” That kind of pain can be inescapable.
We can see from these resources that those who come down with depression tend to be young, and primarily office workers or students in middle and high school. Why is it that office workers and middle and high school students are so susceptible to depression? What is it that really leads to this? We all know that students today are under incredible pressure, facing their families’ earnest hopes that they really make something of themselves, intense competition between classmates on grades and ranking, their own high hopes for their futures, and so on. Pressure from all sides means they have to throw everything they have into their studies as if their lives depended on it. Even if they work hard on their studies every single day, the moment their grades don’t meet their parents’, teachers’, or their own ideal standards, they become downcast and dejected and constantly in low spirits. When it’s serious, they develop depression or autism, developing a world-weary outlook at a very young age. There are some students who even choose suicide to put an end to their young lives. And many office workers take pressure from multiple angles including society, work, career, family, home, income, and children. Everyone hopes to accomplish something within their own preferred field, and to have more money and higher social status. For a lot of people, before they own a house they struggle to buy one, and then once they have one they work hard to buy a car or a bigger house. To these ends, many work overtime every day, rush around, and do as much as they can to work and earn money. At the same time, in order to fit into society everyone has to face interpersonal scheming and intrigues, and learn how to package themselves well and fawn on others. Physical exhaustion and psychological pressure lead people to become downhearted, taciturn, inexplicably irritable, easily upset, prone to insomnia, and even pessimistic and world-weary; thoughts such as “I don’t want to live anymore, all my troubles will end if I die,” and “I should die, then I’ll be free” come into their minds. They may even become common refrains.
The Real Culprit Behind Depression
Seeing these people suffering from depression who are so deep in despair, I believe many people wonder why people who are so young and full of life are so depressed—who’s the real culprit behind this? There are many reasons people become depressed; sometimes it’s because of psychological factors or various societal factors, but for the majority of young people, it’s because of different stressors in school, work, and life. What’s hidden behind this is Satan’s trickery. It is the outcome of Satan corrupting and harming mankind. God’s words say: “What does Satan use to keep man penned in and controlled? (Fame and gain.) So Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts until all they can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision for fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds man with invisible shackles. These shackles are borne on people, and they have not the strength nor courage to throw them off. So people trudge ever onward in great difficulty, unknowingly bearing these shackles. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him, and they become more and more wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the fame and gain of Satan” (“God Himself, the Unique VI”). God’s words very clearly expose Satan’s tactics for corrupting and harming mankind. Why is it that students and office workers are under such great pressure in today’s society that it’s leading to depression, resulting in one tragedy after another? Getting to the bottom of it, it’s because Satan uses things like fame and gain to shackle our thinking so that we only live for these things, and making a name for ourselves becomes the aim of our struggle. Satan uses the education we’re steeped in through textbooks, famous people, and great people to inculcate us with erroneous thinking and viewpoints such as: “Knowledge can change your fate,” “Alive, be man of men; dead, be soul of souls,” “Those with brains rule over those with brawn,” “To be a man is to get ahead,” “One should bring honor to his ancestors,” and “To be a scholar is to be at the top of society.” After we’ve accepted these ideas, what we care about is whether or not we can achieve success and recognition, and whether we can stand out above the crowd and win others’ admiration and have them look up to us. If we can’t achieve these things, we seem incompetent and lacking in ability; we feel like good-for-nothings. Students bury their heads in their books and study with everything they’ve got so they can get good grades; office workers work as hard as they can to make a name for themselves under all sorts of pressure, not even balking at putting all of their time, energy, and their health into it. When we struggle so hard but face setbacks at every turn and can never realize our hopes, we become downhearted and lose hope in ourselves; we sink into pain and bewilderment and cannot extricate ourselves. We start to become depressed and downcast, or even entirely lose the will to struggle for our goals. Nothing has any significance and our hearts feel hollow. We remain in a psychologically tense state for long periods of time to the verge of collapse. When someone’s spirit is suffering so much, it’s very easy for Satan and evil spirits to burrow in, exploiting the chance to harm people and toy with them, inciting our world-weariness so that we feel death is the best way to escape from our pain. People gradually change from being vibrant, open, and normal to being melancholy, and ultimately, in their unbearable suffering, choose to end their lives. This is how Satan uses fame and gain to get control over us step by step so that we sink down into these things and give everything for them, eventually pulling us down into hell.
We can see from this how sinister and ruthless Satan’s tactics of corrupting and harming mankind are, and if we only look at the surface of it we will never be able to see through to Satan’s despicable, evil essence. We will never see that what lies behind depression is the truth of how Satan hurts people and swallows them whole.
The Path to Dealing With and Getting Rid of Depression
Since Satan is so terribly sinister and insidious, how can we possibly deal with and get rid of depression, and no longer be subjected to Satan’s harm and manipulations? The Lord Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Only God is the truth, the way, and the life, and only He can help us understand the truth and develop discernment on Satan’s tricks and its various heresies and fallacies. As long as we seek in accordance with the way and the direction God points out for us, we can be freed from the harms of Satan and live within God’s care and protection.
God’s words say: “There is a simplest way to free oneself from this state: to bid farewell to one’s former way of living, to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life, to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, philosophy, pursuits, desires, and ideals, and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and human likeness. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals of life that people pursue and their various different ways of living, you will find that not one of them fits the Creator’s original intention when He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all pits into which humanity falls, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you, try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to have no choice, and to become a person who worships God” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).
In order to completely get rid of the trap of depression and no longer be harmed by the idea of fame, we must first clearly see the fallacious thinking and perspectives that Satan inculcates us with, such as: “Alive, be man of men; dead, be soul of souls,” “To be a man is to get ahead,” “One should bring honor to his ancestors,” and “To be a scholar is to be at the top of society.” We have to clearly see that desire for fame and gain is one of the ways Satan corrupts mankind, and see the consequences of its pursuit. Just like the many people around us who fight so hard for fame and gain, they throw every ounce of their energy into their studies or career to win all sorts of glory and achieve success. They don’t have time to relax, to spend time with their family or children, and their family relationships become more and more distant; their own lives are really dreary and full of suffering. Some students burn the midnight oil in their studies to make a name for themselves, wanting to get the best grades and stand out from among their peers so that in the future they can get a high-paying job. As a result, these children have all sorts of medical problems at a young age and some even lose their hope in life when they face setbacks in their studies. Some office workers curry favor, engage in flattery and revelry with others so that they can become well-known and fit in with societal trends. They constantly put on a false front and are tormented to the point that they are worn in body and soul, but they lack the strength to escape. They are hemmed in by suffering and worries; they’re in so much pain they have lost their will to live. There are even those who blindly do battle with their own destiny to make a name for themselves; they pay every price and become bruised and battered by life. They cannot face failure and decide to commit suicide, putting an end to their lives. It’s evident from this that fame and gain tightly bind mankind just like shackles, and the more arduously we pursue them, the more emptiness and pain we feel. Ultimately we feel more and more darkness, leading us to march toward death. This is why pursuing fame and gain is utterly devoid of meaning and value.
God’s words say: “Regardless of differences in ability, IQ, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which makes no distinction between the great and the small, the high and the low, the exalted and the mean. What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). God is the Creator and we are created beings. Whether our fate is a life of poverty or wealth, whatever kind of work the future holds, whatever the course of our lives will be, this is all within God’s hands, and He preordained this long ago, regardless of how we strive and struggle. However much God bestows upon us is however much we are able to gain, and if He doesn’t bestow something on us, no matter how hard we fight for it, it will be to no avail. Just as the sayings go, “Man’s destiny is determined by Heaven” and “Man proposes, but God disposes.” This is why we should establish proper objects of pursuit and no longer rely on our own work, but accept our fate from the heavens and do our best. We should do whatever we are able to do, and in everything obey God’s rule and arrangements, handing over everything we have to God and allowing Him to manage it. Living this way is very relaxing, very freeing.
Just like Job in the Bible, he didn’t seek to stand out from among others to have others admire and look up to him, instead, he sought to follow the path of fearing God and shunning evil. He sought to recognize God’s rule in his daily life and achieve obedience to it so that he could be in accord with God’s will in his every word and deed, and not offend God’s disposition. This is why when Job had an abundance of possessions, he still held fast to the path of fearing God and shunning evil, frequently making sacrifices in worship of God. After his trials when he was left with nothing and his entire body was even covered with boils, in spite of the pain of losing his children and wealth, he didn’t utter a single word blaming God. Over his decades of experience Job gained a deep understanding that humans are created beings and everything we have has been given by God. He believed that everything is in God’s hands, and regardless of whether God bestows blessings or takes things away, His name must be praised. Ultimately, Job relied on his faith, obedience, and reverence for God to stand witness for Him, thoroughly shaming Satan, making it turn tail and run and becoming a free man who was never again troubled by Satan. Throughout his life Job never pursued money or fame, nor did he care about how the world saw him; all he pursued was following the path of God, and thus he obtained God’s approval. His life was relaxing, liberating, freeing, and he also lived out a most meaningful, most valuable life. So only when we establish correct goals for life and have genuine understanding of God’s rule can we obtain release and freedom, fully escape from Satan’s harm, get rid of the trap of depression, and lead a happy, joyful life within God’s care and protection.