Depression certainly was no strange to Ellen White. I am she had her own despondent episodes. Certainly her poor husband James, a minister of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, suffered a prolonged serious depression.
Mrs. White's statements about depression have been among the most impressive for me. While still a strong believer in her teachings I certainly had my troubles with depression. When I discovered her writings on the subject it was almost disastrous for me.
In Prophets and Kings, p. 145 we find,
"From the depths of discouragement and despondency Job arose ... Despondency is sinful and unreasonable."From these two statements, with simple logic, we can deduce that Job was a sinner because he was despondent. I have noticed that some people have great difficulty in following this simple logic and I do not understand how that conclusion can be denied. According to Mrs. White, Job was a sinner when he was despondent.
Let us look at the Book of Job. In the first chapter we find that Satan killed all his children, many of his servants, sheep, and camels. Job must have been rather depressed at these happenings as he rent his robe, shaved his head, fell upon the ground, and worshipped. However, notice verse 22 which says, "In all this Job did not sin." Job 2:10 adds, "In all this Job did not sin with his lips." That was when his wife was prompting him to curse God and die. In Job 23: 12 we hear, "I have not departed from the commandment of His lips." In Job 42:7 we find God commending Job's actions when He rebukes Job's attackers with the words, "My wrath is kindled against thee and against thy two friends for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right as My servant Job hath." There is no indication in the Book of Job that he sinned during this trial.
There is no doubt that he was depressed and despondent. If some want to get into a discussion of semantics, the meaning of the words depressed or despondent, then that will not help. Mrs. White could have used any word which she later defined as sinful. But the Bible tells me that, "In all this Job did not sin."
We find in Job 42:6 that Job did "repent in dust and ashes". However there is no indication here that he sinned and the word repent does not always mean that sin has occurred previously. It simply means that there has been a change of mind. We find all through the Old Testament instances where God himself has 'repented'. We cannot conclude from this that God was a sinner.
Despondency and depression are feelings. They are not thoughts or actions nor attitudes of choice. Feelings cannot possibly be sinful. A severe pain in the big toe hurts but it is not sin; it is just a bad feeling.
Jesus was called the 'man of sorrows'. There is no doubt that He was often depressed and despondent but this did not deter His mission. The ultimate in depression is reached when one 'dies of a broken heart'. It is a well known medical fact that people do, in fact, die from broken hearts and it is a common belief that Jesus died from a 'broken heart'; being crushed by the sins of the world. Jesus therefore suffered from the most severe form of depression actually resulting in His death. If depression is sinful, than our Lord was guilt! This erroneous teaching of Mrs. White can only lead to that conclusion.
I do not believe that despondency is a sin nor do I believe that Job sinned during the trial period when he was assaulted by Satan. Will Adventists believe Mrs. White or the Bible? For those of you who are depressed I pray that you do not believe that your bad feelings are in themselves sinful: and I pray for God's peace for you.
[The United States' President during the Civil War] Abraham Lincoln had a terrible time with depressions. Notice the look on Abe's face next time you see his picture. If you have read his biography you will certainly understand why he was so often depressed. I would say God used Abraham Lincoln mightily--depressed or not.