It's Christmas day and I am going through one of my deep depression episodes. Yesterday I visited my parent's grave to hang a wreath. I became confused again and deeply despondent, I ask God for help and answers but maybe I'm impatient or I don't understand his will for me or - and this is my biggest fear - maybe he is not my God because he has not chosen me or predestined me to any happiness in life or to eternal life with him. By the way my father was a police officer and died in the line of duty, a victim of a 17-year-old junkie who shot him in a holdup back in 1973. My mother died in April 2000, I was at her bedside holding her until her last breath, praying for her salvation. She was bitter about life, her father committed suicide, her brother died young after suffering terribly as an alcoholic. The depression seems hereditary; I have it, my daughter, and my son all suffer from major depression.
I was let go from a company in May of 2001 after almost 12 years of outstanding service for which I was never given recognition or any real reward. This was after I was assigned to be the manager of a major project which seemingly was political suicide, but I had no choice. In the midst of this my daughter was a teen suffering from cutting, cigarette burning, and a host of foolish actions which led her continually into court for assaults, drugs and other problems. My son was having difficulty in school as he has speech / learning disabilities along with ADD and was socially an outcast with no friends but me.
I had suffered depression episodes in the past but now I was crying almost daily, sometimes I would not be able to face the pressure of my job and would actually stop and cry for an hour before I could go in. Just reading something poetic with deeper life / death meaning would set me off on a deep depressive episode and end in crying. My wife was frustrated with me and all the other problems and insisted I get help. I don't believe in psychotherapy a la Freud or others and would only look to God for help, but in this case I tried Prozac to see if it could help, which it did as long as I kept the level right.
Still I ended up unemployed and looking for a new Job during the summer of 2001. This was a difficult time in the Northeast, layoffs were reported daily. I prayed, and tried hard each day looking for a job but then 9/11 happened and I new it would take more time. I always was interested in understanding my faith more deeply and would read articles, the scriptures, and listen to Christians on the radio who I respected and felt had a good understanding of the scriptures such as Hank Hanna Graf, John McArthur, R.C. Spraul and Chuck Colson. I learned from them a lot of discernment and how to recognize false teachers and bad theology. This is where the real problem came into my mind. I was learning about predestination and tried to understand what it really meant. There seemed to be great differences within the circle of Christians I was listening to and I became very confused. I felt that all of my continual problems were because I was not one of the "chosen few". I started to realize that calling on God for help was futile because I was a "vessel for destruction". God calls who pleases and rejects who he wills to do so, just like Jacob and Esau, Cain and Able and others. I realized I had no choice in the matter - that is in a strict Calvinistic sense what is the point of praying or trying or anything when all was said and done already since before the foundations of the world? Now I understood why I have continual problems, now I understood why others prosper and I fail even though it seems many who prosper were actually outright godless or ignorant of whatever twisted faith they held. I now knew too much.
It used to be that I would ponder the mindset of people like Marilyn Manson, Anton LaVey, Karl Marx, Neitche and others with reprobate criminal minds and could never fathom why they could be like that. After all was there not a loving, forgiving God who sent his only Son to us to bring us to salvation if we would only believe, accept and repent? No - now there is another factor - over which we have no control - predestination. I can accept Christ (I have), I can try to change my life to a godly path and help others (I am trying), I can hope, pray and worship (I am) but it doesn't matter at all if I am not chosen. The fact that I continually have problems, become hopelessly depressed, am unemployed although capable and looking all lead me to believe I am like Esau. He has rejected me - and I know he is the only God but he doesn't want me. Now I understand these people who have become haters of God and Christianity. They feel that they did not reject God be he has rejected them! Some are fools who don't understand; others like Marx and Neitche understood Christianity well. Neiche even cursed Calvin for his doctrine which makes Christianity a "members only" club who has many members who think they belong but even many who think they do are not even chosen. Many are like me - like the Samaritan who begs for scraps at the table. Others get angry and become evil because what is the point of being good when your God has rejected you and doesn't care for your actions or gifts to him.
I hope that I lack a good understanding of this important principle. Maybe you can explain it to me or lead me to someone who can. I don't want to lose all hope for salvation but my problems are leading me to believe that I am on of the rejected and not the chosen and am wasting my time knocking on the door which is supposed to open when I do knock but hasn't.
My response is in Green:
I will tell you right up front that I don't believe in Predestination and I hate this doctrine. I wanted to say that right up front so that you will have no problem seeing any bias I might have, however, whether I like it or not if it is true then it does not matter whether I like it or not. So we have to look at God's word and decide if it is true or not.
Before I go any further I want to address one thing. Either you are not predestined to go to hell or God is a liar. One of those has to be true. Here is my point. If you were predestined to go to hell, that would mean that there would be no hope for you, no matter what you believed, no matter what you did, you would have no hope and as you have already figured out it would mean that God did not love you. So let me show you why I say if that is true, then God is a liar.
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Are you weary and burdened? Your message to me sure made it sound like it. So was Jesus lying when He told you to come to Him? He was if you do come to Him and He refuses you.
(2 Peter 3:9 NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Another lie, if God really does want some people to perish. If He is the one who chooses then why does He need to be patient with anyone?
(Acts 2:21 NIV) And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Is this a lie or the truth? If you are predestined to go to hell and yet you have called on the name of the Lord, then this is a lie!
(Acts 16:30-31 NIV)  He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household."
Were they lying to this guy or did they know he and his household were part of the Elect?
(Romans 10:9-13 NIV) That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,  for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Does God play the Clinton game? Does it depend on what 'anyone' and everyone' means?
(1 John 4:19 NIV) We love because he first loved us.
Is this only referring to a select few?
(1 John 1:5 NIV) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
Is there a darkness in God's heart? If He hates some people and love others then I would have to say there is. That is not to say that He does not have the right to do this, no one could stop Him. The problem comes about because of who God tells us He is. He says that He is holy, that He can't lie or deny Himself, and yet He says He loves all people. Either that is true or God is a liar, and we know He is not a liar. Let's look at how God describes Himself:
(1 John 4:16 NIV) And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
God is love. Can that be true if He hates over 80% of all the people He created? The percentage of those who end up in hell might even be higher than 80%, but it will not be because God hated them, it will be because they rejected His love.
(1 John 4:8 NIV) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Just another example of God telling us He is love. We would not even know what love was if it were not for God, who is love. If I claim to be a loving father with two kids, yet I abuse one and spoil the other, would you consider me a loving father? Of course not. Why? Because in your heart you know a loving father has to love all his children. Yet people think that God does not love all of us. That is sad.
(Psalm 86:15 NIV) But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
See how God describes Himself? Abounding in love. Does that sound like a God who would condemn most of His creation without giving them any hope at all? Again I am not arguing against the fact that we are sinners and deserve death and separation from God, I am just pointing out that He says He loves us and therefore sent His Son to die in our place.
Look at Jonah. He knew what God was like and it made him mad. He did not want God to forgive the people of Nineveh, he wanted God to destroy them. He knew before he went there what God was like:
(Jonah 4:2-3 NIV)  He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.  Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
Jonah was so mad he wanted God to take his life. Look at what God has to say about it:
(Jonah 4:11 NIV) But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?
So God would care about a great city because of the thousands of people in it and yet hate the majority of the rest of His own creation? I just can't buy that, it is not the God who describes Himself in the pages of the Bible.
There are many more passages where God tells us He is loving and merciful. I hope those that I quoted are enough to convince you that God does love all mankind. If God loves all mankind then He has not predestined anyone to hell with no hope. He has offered salvation to all those who will call upon the name of Jesus.
Now that we have established that, (I hope), we can go on to what is going on in your life. You may not like some of the things I am going to say, but I ask you to think about them and pray about them. The first thing is that depression is not genetic. Well I should clarify that somewhat. It is only genetic in the sense that you got it because you are part of the human family.
Let me show you some examples from the Bible. I have already listed one but you might have missed it. Jonah was so mad and depressed that he wanted to die. He did not want to live anymore.
Let's look at a couple more:
(Mark 14:34-36 NIV)  "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
That is right Jesus was depressed, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." We know that Jesus did not inherit depression from His parents. We know that God did not hate Him.
(2 Corinthians 1:8-11 NIV)  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,  as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
The Apostle Paul: "far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life' and 'in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.' Again we know that Paul was not hated by God. He even goes on to tell us why this happened to him. 'this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.'
There are three different examples of depression in the Bible, all having a different cause. Yet in all three cases instead of looking at themselves these men look to God. Jonah did not try to take his own life, he called out to God to kill him. Probably not a good example, yet it still speaks to the attitude Jonah had about God. Next Jesus called out to God and asked that this be taken from Him, but then went on to say, but not His will but the Father's will be done. Paul, realized, after it was over probably, that God was teaching him a lesson to lean on Him and not his own power.
Depression and even sickness can also come from unconfessed sin:
(Psalm 32:3-5 NIV)  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
David was in depression and sick until he confessed his sin to God and God forgave him. So we see that there are many different reasons for depression, we also see that no matter what the reason there is One to whom we must turn and that is the merciful, loving God who describes Himself in His word.
We have responsibilities too in our depression. We have the responsibility to get up, get moving and to praise God for the wonderful things He has done for us, not the least of which of course is sending His only Son to die in our place. See no matter how bad our lives are, if our focus is on eternity then we have something to praise God for. It is when our focus in on ourselves that we sink deeper into the depression and even start questioning if God loves us. Or maybe even if there is a God at all.
Satan knows this, and that is why he attacks so many people with depression. That is why Paul tells us to put on the armor of God. We need it daily. God will strengthen us if we will allow Him to.
(Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)  Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
I am not trying to say that there is sin in your life, but I want to address one more thing that can happen. God can try to get your attention. This can happen because of sin in your life or because your focus is on yourself or something other than God. Let me show you what I mean:
(Amos 4:6-10 NIV)  "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  "I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up.  People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD.  "I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD."
He will sometimes give us difficult situations as a way of calling us back to our first love. There is hope:
(Joel 2:12-13 NIV)  "Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning."  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
I also want to explain that bad things happen to Christians who do not have any unconfessed sin in their lives. We live in a fallen world where good things happen to both the righteous and unrighteous and bad things happen to both the righteous and unrighteous. Jesus spoke about this when He said that the Father sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. Rain can symbolize both good and bad. Blessings and trails. If we are God's children then He cares about us, but that does not mean that He takes all our trials and tribulations away. Some of them might be designed to bring Him glory through the way we handle the situation. Others might just be part of being a human. Cancer, auto accidents, fires, floods, etc... are all part of the curse on this earth and they affect both Christians and non-Christians alike.
What I am trying to say is that I don't know why you lost your job. It could be a test or it could be someone out to get you because they don't like you, or it could even be just one of those things that happens to all of us at one time or another. You can't always prevent or even see these things coming, but you can decide how you will handle them. You can focus on yourself and fall into deep depression and distain life, or you can focus on God and His faithfulness even in the midst of trouble.
You mentioned that you are on Prozac. I won't tell you to quit using it, but I will caution you about its use. You should read the side effects label very carefully. Let me quote some of the possible side effects.
More common side effects may include:
Abnormal dreams, agitation, amnesia, anxiety, changeable emotions, confusion, decreased sex drive, drowsiness and fatigue, inability to fall or stay asleep, nervousness
Less common side effects may include:
Apathy, exaggerated feeling of well-being, hallucinations, hostility, irrational ideas, paranoid reaction
Rare side effects may include:
Antisocial behavior, delusions, suicidal thoughts
Notice the very last one; suicidal thoughts. This is not a drug to take lightly. It can make things worse. God on the other hand does not make things worse.
Let me give you one last quote from God's word:
(Jeremiah 17:5-9 NIV)  This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
So many people turn to human wisdom, such as psychology and they live lives just like God describes: 'like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.' I urge you to go to God, talk to Him allow Him to show you His love and mercy. Allow Him to give you strength and move your focus off yourself and onto Him.
Your children need Him too. I think you would agree with that about your daughter but your son is in the same situation. They label a lot of things disease now days. Like ADD. He needs discipline, not drugs. Please go to God and get His help, for yourself and your family.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)