Numbers 11:14-15 “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.”
Today, more than ever before, people are being placed on psychotropic drugs for anxiety disorders that are stress related. The ADAA states that over 40 million sufferers have been identified in 2017 and that number is severely less because many who suffer do not seek treatment. I state the findings here because the church has no way of quantifying the effects of stress and depression; but it is very real.
Pastors and assistants and ministry leaders alike suffer what many call ‘burnout’. We operate under this unspoken expectation that we should be the energizer bunny and continue tirelessly, faithfully and constantly in the position God has placed us. Add to that the burden of the position. Pastors and those in full time service are viewed with a skewed perspective.
Many of us who are laymen and women apply our perspective of work to those in ministry thinking they have a 9-5, Monday through Friday type of job and that the weekends are just an added bonus to be with the people of God. Truth be told, a pastor may work without a day off for weeks on end bearing the burdens of his people, making hospital visits, counseling, taking calls of all kinds, and there is also the burden of preparing messages, teaching, growing the leadership and maintaining a spirit of hospitality.
He hears the problems, issues, complaints and sometimes unthinkable situations and circumstances of the people. He has all that and the burden of maintaining his marriage, his family and home. We take our stresses and depression to the man of God and lay it at his feet and say, “Please fix it.” There is not a pastor on the face of the earth that faced what Moses did in his day.
It is estimated that during the wandering in the wilderness, he oversaw over a million souls. So, it truly is no wonder that Moses had come to God and said, ‘I just can’t take it anymore – I want to die’. But consider a few points that we often overlook.
With whom was Moses in conversation? He had already established a connection and communication with the God of Heaven as his ‘go to’ for any and all problems. Without God, all things will look overwhelming and impossible. With God:
Mark 10:27 “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”
You and I must take example from those who experienced success in the areas we struggle. Moses had reason for anxiety, stress and depression. His first ‘go to’ was not the doctor, the counselor, the psychiatrist, or the people – He went to God first. God met with him. Moses listened and obeyed.
Secondly, Moses shared the load with men made able by God to help in the ministry. God took seventy men from out of the congregation and gave them the same spirit that Moses had – not the Holy Spirit, but Moses’s spirit. His tenacity, grit and determination; his character and integrity, and his humility. There are certain things that the leader must bear, but then there are those things that when borne by many, that makes for ease in the work.
Often, the man of God has the responsibility of intercessor. Seeing and hearing all the situations, circumstances and problems of the people can be overwhelming in and of itself. Going to God for them and trying to get answers for all can be a daunting task. But that duty does not fall just on the leadership – it is the job of every born-again child of God to grow in their prayer life to be an intercessor as well.
Stress and depression can often become a quiet hell. The spiritual battle rages because we feel no one knows; no one feels quite like us. Our enemy gets us to believe that we are alone in this battle and even God Himself doesn’t seem to care. This stronghold (a belief system based upon a lie) becomes a privately born burden that we try to eliminate on our own. When we try to tell others, we think we are just complaining, or feel the expectation is that we should fix ourselves.
The whole problem compounds when held in secret and not shared with God to find a solution. Often, we don’t recognize some of the contributing factors or triggers to our own depression. We do not have a network of good, true friends and mentors we can go to when our spirit is overwhelmed. Having someone with whom we can share the load can literally take us out of the black hole of depression.
At times, it is our music that draws out the wrong emotions. Having good, godly music that lifts us toward God is essential. We must be able to identify our need and feed it properly.
Other times, it can be reaching outside of ourselves that breaks the bonds of depression. Meeting the needs of others can help us to see that their burdens seem larger to us and make our own easier to bear. A change in perspective is always helpful.
Lastly, Moses started as a stuttering, meek and humble man who seemed most unlikely to lead millions of people. Yet, with God as His leader and guide; submitted and under His influence; Moses showed that a man can do just about anything God asks when we do it His way. The world will offer up a pill for every ailment. I say, try God first. Come to Him as the seventy men were asked – sanctify yourselves and come.
Set yourself aside for a day to seek God and His answer. You may hear that inner voice say, “We don’t have time for this…” When my inner peace is threatened, it is a BIG deal. I have found that I MUST do for my sould what is needed no matter the cost.
Sometimes it has been getting alone in prayer. Other times just getting away from the rat race and being able to focus with God on the problems I am facing. Still other times, I need to process my problems with someone wise enough to guide me into the truth I need to hear.
Do not let your problems reach such a critical stage that you feel like Moses – “God, just kill me and get it over with…” There is nothing that you and God cannot handle!