Feb 3, 2011

Tobit and depression

Lately, I have been battling the spirit of depression. This spirit has been beating me up mentally and doesn't seem able to give me any respite. Last night, I read the book of Tobit specifically because of this problem.

In Tobit, both Tobit and Sarah are harassed by depression too. Tobit gets pooped on his eyes by birds that leads to cataracts and blindness at a time when such things were interpreted as signs of having lost favor with God. Sarah has wed seven men and yet never been with a man because a demon kills each man when she goes in to be with him. They both pray to God to end their suffering by killing them so they can be away from this pain.

I get that. I have been there, but have also slapped God in the face by attempting to do on my own. I am deeply sorry for that and realize that it is wrong.

Raphael, an angel, prepares their prayers for God and is sent to bring them an easing of their pain. For that process, Raphael takes Tobit's son, Tobias, on a journey to another land to collect some money owed to Tobit. The land they journey to also happens to be where Sarah lives.

Along the way, Raphael shares medical knowledge with Tobias. Tobias has caught a fish, and Raphael tells him to keep three organs. When they get to the place where Sarah lives, Raphael tells Tobias of his family's connection and that he (Tobias) is the next eligible bachelor according to Mosaic law. Tobias has heard of her story and is hesitant to marry a woman whom a demon loves and kills her mates. Raphael tells Tobias how to banish the demon and so Tobias and Sarah wed.

Tobias sends Raphael on to the collection of the money. Since Sarah's family is so overjoyed at her wedding and not widowing someone in the some day, they double the traditional wedding feast to 14 days from 7 days. Tobias knows his family will be worried about him, so that's why he has Raphael get the money and invite the holder of the money to the wedding feast. After they depart, they return to Tobit's home.

Tobias goes ahead of his wife and Raphael into the village. His family is overjoyed to have him back safe and sound. Tobias heals Tobit's eyes according to the instructions given him by Raphael. They are also very happy he has married a fellow Israelite. After his father, then mother die, Tobias and Sarah return to her homeland and take care of her family. They were spared from the deportation in Tobias' homeland by being in the conqueror's homeland.

On the return to Tobias' family, Raphael privately tells Tobit and Tobias who he is and what they have seen and why Raphael has come to them. They praise God and all is well.

The story goes from deep depression in two people to praising of God by all involved. This is a fictional tale, but that doesn't take away from the uplifting and inspiring nature of the book. I got a lot out of this story. I hope that I remember it next time a spirit of depression torments me.

God, please remind me when that should happen again, amen.