Tree of No Fruit: Dealing With Depression

Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree shall not blossom, and fruit is not on the vines; the work of the olive fails, and the fields make no food; the flock is cut off from the fold, and no herd is in the stalls,

Ever had a day like that? Raise your hands because I know you have. You sit at your desk and look at the sun coming up and the depression that oppresses your soul is like a sore tooth, but you do not know where the soreness is coming from or why it is there. Life should be good… but, it is not at this precise moment.

Seriously, I never thought Habakkuk could ever teach me a lesson. I do not think I’ve ever heard a sermon on Habakkuk. But, there it was in black and white. Yes. I felt that way. Empty. Void. Depressed.

Where is the stuff that He works through me? What use am I to the Lord God, or to anyone else? There seemed to be a numbness pervading my being. Verse 17 described it perfectly.

Then I read verse 18.

Habakkuk 3:18 yet I will exalt in Jehovah; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

It’s like Job declared, “Though He slay me, I will still praise Him.”

Something cracked inside as I read that verse. A dam burst… no, it was more like a glacier melting. In the time it takes to blink, a thousand years could expire… it all depends upon perspective. God has no time constraints because He invented time. From my perspective, 30 seconds can seem like ten years sometimes, or sometimes it is less than a sneeze. A few months of grief are but a speck in my time line, and do not amount to a nanosecond in God’s time. Whichever binoculars you use, it all means absolutely nothing compared to the wonders God has planned for eternity. My little spot of woes won’t matter one whit a million years from now, or even a hundred years from now. By then I’ll have been with my glorious Father for the blink of an eye. When in the depths of depression, we just don’t see time passing in the blink of an eye. Several years ago, Tim LaHaye wrote an excellent book on handling depression. Besides the clinical/chemical depression which must be treated medically, there is the kind that seeps into the soul because of circumstances which we allow to oppress us like an olive press.

How enlightening that the Hebrew word for olive press is Gethsemane. Jesus met His most pressing hour to the point of sweating droplets of blood there. Imagine that crushing, choking pain He faced right there on His knees. It brings me to my knees. What circumstance, what thing in my life could possibly compare to my sweet Savior facing the cross? Being rejected by a spouse or a mate may come close to how He felt that terrible evening. A million years from now, that will still be the most significant night ever lived. It was when Jesus chose to live the shame because of the joy beyond the cross. Hebrews 12:2 

In a million years will depression matter? Will doing the works of God matter? Will fruit matter? Yes, because God is intensely interested in everything His children do and everything that effects us. LaHaye points out that if we remain introspective, we will remain in depression. It is that focusing on self that causes us to sink deeper into despair. But, when we turn our focus outward and upward, that is when the clutches of despair let go and we can be used of God in the works He made ready for us before the foundation of the world.

A grapefruit tree will sacrifice fruit for the health of the tree. It counts survival of itself more important than bearing fruit and its own procreation.

However, to God, fruit is the purpose, not the tree.

Matthew 21:19 And seeing one fig tree by the road, He went up to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only. And He said to it, Let there be no more fruit from you forever. And the fig tree immediately dried up.

The lesson from Jesus? No fruit… no life.

God spent a lot of time teaching me, training me, carrying me, dancing with me, loving me and walking with me. Now it is time that I walk His way, follow His steps, wait for His timing, bear His fruit, work His works, ever looking outward and upward, depending upon Him to lift the fallen and me bent beneath my load.

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