Hope In the Lord
An Edge Issue Night on Depression
Edge Night Outline
Goal of this Night
*This night requires some extra preparation. Before the night, make sure to educate the Core Members about the topic of depression. It is also important to review the requirements of your diocese in dealing with middle school youth who may share issues about depression or more serious thoughts and/or actions. If there are no policies in your diocese, it would be important to report issues that a middle school youth shares with the Edge leader. If possible, have counselors on hand who are comfortable working with the middle school age group.
The middle school youth will take a deeper look into the serious topic of depression and how this is manifested in their lives. The sessions will also help the middle school youth to seek Jesus Christ to help them, as well as their friends and family when they experience depression.
About this night
The middle school years is a difficult time for the majority of adolescents. Their bodies are changing, their friends are exploring different crowds, school tends to get more difficult and they are desperately searching to define who they are as a person. Life is in this constant state of transition, and that inconsistency makes it difficult for them to know where they can find help. One issue commonly experienced during this transition into the teenage years is depression. Whether it is brought on by something internal, such as a chemical imbalance or external factors such as the death of a loved one, a divorce in the family or the end of a friendship or relationship, depression is a serious problem that not only affects the mind of a child, but also affects his or her physical and spiritual health. The book of Lamentations gives us an insight into darkness of depression:
My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the LORD. The thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall; Remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me. But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the LORD, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Good is the LORD to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:16-26)
The book of Lamentations is a compilation of five stories from an Jewish eyewitness during the sixth century B.C. who watches the temple be destroyed and Jerusalem fall into shambles. However, despite the darkness that appears to be weighing on his heart from all sides, this man chooses to have hope. He trusts in the Lord and sees each new day as a gift. However, this is often much easier said than done.
Sometimes middle school youth take depression extreme levels. Behaviors such as alcohol use, self-medication with over-the-counter and prescription drugs and illegal drugs are classic ways that teens have tried deal with their depression. However, within the past few years, reports of youth resorting to self-mutilation and cutting as an outlet for their pain have increased. Cutting is the deliberate use of a razor blade or other sharp object to inflict pain on various parts of the body. The youth who resort to cutting may do it to himself/herself in order to feel in control, to experience an emotion other than depression, out of guilt for other behaviors, etc. Fortunately, God is bigger than our pain; we just have to give Him permission to take control. St. Paul gives the people of Corinth hope in their own times of despair:
No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
Many kids affected by these periods of sadness, fear, worry and hopelessness wonder if they will ever feel differently. They feel weak and unable to fight the battle ahead of them. St. Paul reminds the people of Corinth that not only is God with us during our times of despair, but He is proactive in His guidance, willing to help us find us a solution to make our way out of the darkness. We have to trust in God and truly believe in our hearts that He has a better plan for us. God sent His only son to not only die for our sins, but to live as a human on this earth in order to know the daily struggles of humanity. Jesus dealt with many of the same feelings of doubt and anxiety that we do today when it comes to looking ahead into a seemingly unclear future. However, Christ knew that the answers could only be made visible through God. He is the ultimate remedy. We must encourage our middle school youth to spread this message of hope to their friends and loved ones dealing with depression. Their primary support should be from God, but they also need the strength, wisdom, love and prayers from those around them to change. If necessary, friends and family should encourage someone suffering from depression to seek professional help. As for those directly affected, they need to make that choice for hope as well; to confide in Christ and seek Him as an outlet for their pain. They are never alone. No matter what comes their way, God is there ready, armed, and prepared to help.
For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon. Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high. All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor. With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power (Psalm 91:11-16)
Accepting our current circumstances can be difficult. It is hard to understand why “bad” things happen to us. The goal for this night is to help the middle school youth understand that there are positive things one can do when suffering from depression. We want to show them that turning to drugs, alcohol, cutting and other negative behaviors does not help one to deal with the problems, but rather brings temporary escape. Christ calls us to find our hope in Him. Jesus says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
– Handouts A and B,
– Video Cameras and tapes
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