This scripture is so relevant to me today! Yes, I rejoice in the inheritance of verse four!
"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you," (1 Peter 1:4 KJV)
The reality, however, of life in a fallen world is that we have many trials and temptations to deal with down here. Sometimes that gets us down and we feel heavy and discouraged. Sometimes our bodies get sick and sometimes our minds/brains get sick too. Christians can and do get depressed sometimes.
I, like many other Christians, thought depression was a matter of just "getting over it" and moving on. Mind over matter. I was particularly harsh in my thinking that they were just being self centered to get attention or sympathy. It never really occurred to me that the brain is a physical part of the human body and it can be affected by illness too as much as the heart, lungs or any other part of the body. Depression can be the result of actual chemical imbalances in the brain, and can be symptoms of other underlying issues. But for some odd reason, many Christians look down on a Christian who is in the deeps of depression.
I love the story of Charles Spurgeon on this:
If Spurgeon was acquainted with depression before, following the Surrey Hall disaster, it became a more frequent and perverse companion. In October 1858 he had his first episode of incapacitating illness since coming to London. Having been absent from his pulpit for three Sundays, when he returned he preached on 1 Peter 1:6: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” In the sermon, entitled “The Christian’s Heaviness and Rejoicing,” Spurgeon said that during his illness, when “my spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for ... a kind friend was telling me of some poor old soul living near, who was suffering very great pain, and yet she was full of joy and rejoicing. I was so distressed by the hearing of that story, and felt so ashamed of myself.... ” While he was struggling with the contrast between his depression and the joy evinced by this woman who was afflicted with cancer, “this text flashed upon my mind, with its real meaning ... that sometimes the Christian should not endure his sufferings with a gallant and a joyous heart” but “that sometimes his spirits should sink within him, and that he should become even as a little child smitten beneath the hand of God.”~Darrel Amundson
We need to be merciful to the Christian who is depressed under a load of heaviness. It is no help to tell them that if they have enough faith God will heal them of this. What if that is not God's will? Then when the sought after relief does not come they are cast deeper into depression for they feel that they do not have enough faith or that their faith is not good enough. We must not act as if depression should never be a part of the Christian's life. Look at Job, David, and Elijah. These experienced periods of depression.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. (Psalms 42:5 KJV)
Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer–sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. (1 Kings 19:2-4 KJV)
We need to encourage our Christian brothers and sisters who suffer depression without unwittingly saying things that only add to their dispair. Sometimes, as in Job's case, we just need to be present with them but say nothing.
So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:13 KJV)
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, remember, that God loves you enough to have included stories in the Bible about those who also have struggled with it. You are not alone. Depression is the great imposter. It twists your thinking so that you feel all alone and that everything is going against you. Be aware of these feelings and get help if you need it or if your loved one needs it, because depression can be a killer. See the verse above in 1 Kings 19:2-4. Elijah wanted to die because he thought life was not worth living. He felt like a failure. This is the lie of depression.
Yes, we may be in heaviness through many temptations and trials, but we have much to rejoice about coming in eternity! Encourage yourself and your downcast friends and family members in this truth.