«Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength (So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved’. And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them» (Nehemiah 8: I0- 12).
The third symptom of depression is in the loss of appetite, although increased appetite may occur in others. Chapter 8 of Nehemiah describes Ezra’s keynote address. Throughout the morning, he read the book of the law of Moses to the people. He not only read it, but he also explained and commented on it so that everyone could understand it. The assembly must have been enormous, as the passage tells us that all the people gathered in an open square—men and women and all who could understand. The message was successful as «all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law» (v. 9)
Noticing their grief, the religious leaders, together with Nehemiah and Ezra, understood that the message had achieved its purpose: contrition and remorse. Thus, there was no reason to prolong the sadness, so they encouraged the people not to be sad but to be merry. They urged them to testify about their joy with good food and exquisite drink, and to share food with others.
Food and celebration go together. Every culture or society that we observe expresses its moments of joy, rejoicing, cheer and celebration with special food which is the fatty food and sweet wine of today’s text.
But when there are hardships, it is difficult to enjoy the food as delicious and appetizing they may be. Scriptures describes a person who is depressed by saying that «his life abhors bread, and his soul succulent food [or desirable] (Job 33:20). Maybe you are afflicted with depression or discouragement, and you may even despise the food. Read or attentively listen to what God says in the Scripture. More and more psychotherapists use the reading of religious texts on their patients as a support to help them escape despair and depression, and the results are astonishing.
Today, make its messages your promises and act as those Israelites who went their way «to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.»