What God says about depression....

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD."  -Jeremiah 17:7

Depression has become a widely experienced season of life for countless individuals.  Although it is still seen, by and large, as a taboo subject, depression is slowly becoming a more popular topic of public discussion with the rise of mental health awareness on a vast number of fronts.

In the Christian world, many have expressed that the Church has not performed particularly well over recent decades in talking about and dealing with the depression issue.  For many, the belief has been that Christians should never become depressed, and if one finds his/herself in a depressed state, then his/her faith or spiritual condition is in question.

Does the Bible have anything to say regarding depression?  Certainly it does!  God understands us, after all, Jesus walked among us.  He understands depression because He Himself walked in a season or two of it!  Depression is a natural human reaction to a variety of life events and situations, so the stigma that Christians should never be depressed or connecting depression to weak faith is an erroneous claim.

Allow me to share with you 5 examples of depression in Scripture and how God reveals we should deal with it (**aside from any chemical imbalances or neurological issues).

1.  Moses - Numbers 11:10-15
Moses had quite the task ahead of him - leading the some 2 million or so Jewish people through the desert wilderness.  What a task!  In such an overwhelming situation, with the constant bickering and complaining of the people, Moses felt the weight of leadership crushing him.  He came to a point in his life where he was deeply depressed.  Although we are not given any evidence or inclination of a suicide attempt, and we should not believe there ever was, Moses did express at one point that he was open to God taking his life.  But, God had an answer in Moses' valley of trouble....
SOLUTION: God provided people to help Moses carry the load. (Num. 11:16)
Who has God put in your life to be a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on?  Often when we are depressed, we push these people away or we simply shut ourselves off from our loved ones and friends.  Do all you can to use the people around you, including your church family, to help carry your burdens.

2.  Elijah - 1 Kings 19:1-4
After the episode with Elijah and the prophets of Baal, a time of great victory by God over the false god, Ahab's wife queen Jezebel threatened to murder Elijah for what he had done.  He had not only made them look like fools but he was also responsible for executing the 400 cultic prophets of Baal.  Jezebel found out through Ahab what Elijah had done, and she responded in sending a messenger to Elijah with the threat of the same fate.  Afraid for his life, Elijah ran into the wilderness.  While in the wilderness resting under a tree, in a depressed state, Elijah prayed that God would end his life.  Elijah was not only afraid for his life, but he also felt alone (he had left his servant behind when he ran), and felt as if he was the only one living for God.  But, God had an answer in Elijah's valley of trouble....
SOLUTIONGod instructed Elijah to take care of his physical needs - this would help his mental state.  (1 Kings 19:5-8)  Often when we get depressed, the first thing we allow to happen is we stop taking care of our basic physical needs.  We stop eating, we stop sleeping, and we stop exercising (or doing something physical in nature).  There are medical/scientific links to depression and malnutrition, sleep deprivation, and sedentary lifestyles.  What is one of God's solutions then when we find ourselves depressed?  Eat, sleep, exercise, repeat!
God also let Elijah know that he wasn't alone.  (1 Kings 19:9, 15, 18)  Elijah could only see the small picture in front of him, so he assumed that everyone was against him and that he had no support.  God, who sees the big picture, let Elijah know that there were many others in the same fight he was in.  That same principle goes for us!

3.  King David - Psalm 32:3-5; Psalm 38
Although King David is popularly known as the 'man after God's own heart,' he had many flaws and made many mistakes in his life.  He broke God's command to have one wife, as he pleasured himself with a multitude of wives and concubines, along with the whole Bathsheba incident which resulted in an unplanned pregnancy, a murdered husband to cover it all up, and the death of the conceived child shortly after birth.  Because of his compiling guilt and shame over his many sins, David became deeply depressed.    But, God had an answer in David's valley of trouble....
SOLUTIONDavid prayed for God's forgiveness and his guilt was removed.  (Psalm 51)
Quite often when we find ourselves in depression over guilt and shame from past mistakes, we won't pray to God for forgiveness because we feel we don't deserve it.  Sometimes, we even feel as if we deserve the punishment and depression we feel we are experiencing.  And even then, if we have prayed for forgiveness and we have truly repented, we struggle to allow ourselves to be forgiven.  We don't allow ourselves to accept that God has forgiven us.  God seeks the repentant and broken heart over sin.  Go to Him in your guilt and shame and be forgiven through Christ!

4.  Job - Job 3
What can't be pulled from the story of Job?  Generally speaking, every trial a human being could possibly face was heaped upon Job in seemingly one fell swoop!  In a series of Satan-administered (and God-allowed) tragedies, Job lost his livelihood, his possessions/property, his family, and finally his health all at about the same time.  When we face such trials, they typically come at us in one of these areas, and seldom two at the same time, but not often every major area of life at once!  As you can well imagine, Job became deeply depressed, even reaching the point of wishing he had never been born; wishing he had died in the womb.  But, God had an answer in Job's valley of trouble....
SOLUTIONGod reminded Job of who He is - the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of all things.  (Job 38-42)  Simply put, when we remain in a state of depression, and even if we find ourselves in the dark alley of suicidal thinking, we often find ourselves in that place because we have forgotten who God really is.  We stop trusting Him, we doubt He hears us, and we figure He won't do anything to help us or make things better.  When we enter into the realm of suicidal thinking, our perception of reality is skewed into seeing only one possible option and no other options or scenarios exist.  We tend to focus only on ourselves and situation, and we lose all focus on God.  This is what happens to us when we forget about God - when we forget that He is the Almighty Creator, All-powerful and All-knowing.  He is limitless and eternal, working all things out for our good in some way - including times of depression, trials, and evil that we experience in our lives.  Job lost sight of that and God had to remind him.  Once Job's perception was corrected, he got out of the pit of depression and back on his feet.

5.  Jesus - Matthew 26:36-39
This may come as a shock to many of us, but Jesus experienced depression.  Here in the Garden of Gethsemane scene, Jesus went to a place he frequented for prayer.  He was on the heels of His arrest, abandonment, trials, beatings, and then execution.  The weight of His mission was crushing upon the human side of Him - He could feel every ounce of the weight of His burden on His shoulders.  What did He do in such a time?  He prayed to the Father, even asking that if the Father was willing, that this heavy burden be taken from Him.  Yet, if it was still the Father's will for Him to go through with it all, then He would do it.
In this Garden scene, Jesus is recorded as expressing, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to the point of death."  Jesus was experiencing and sharing that He was deeply depressed because He knew the terrible trial facing Him.  It wouldn't be too long that He would undergo immense physical and psychological torture that would ultimately end in His sure death.
When we face a frightening trial, or when we know something is looming on the horizon, like a bad diagnosis from the doctor, we are often overcome with dread and thinking the worst.  For example, when we hear the doctor mention the "C" word, our minds want to immediately take us to death.  Jesus faced His sure death and all the suffering that would lead Him to that point, and it was greatly distressing and depressing.  But, God shows us through His Son His answer to us in such troubling times....
SOLUTIONJesus continued to pray and worship the Father, seeking His will.  (Matthew 26:39-44)  Often when we find ourselves in a state of depression, we want to be alone, closing ourselves off from everyone, including our church family.  We don't want to be around people, especially happy people, so we avoid the worship gathering.  We don't feel like singing or jotting down sermon notes - we just feel like crying and being in solitude.  In those times, God says to press on in worship and in much prayer!  As Christians, we often utter the phrase, 'What would/did Jesus do?'  Well, in times of depression, Jesus had a prayer service!  If God in the flesh gives us that example in His time of depression, shouldn't we follow His lead?

Depression is very real issue in today's world and as the Church (and as pastors/leaders), we must talk about this issue from the Scriptures.  God's Word has plenty to say about depression, yet so little of us actually know about it.  God's Word has answers to some of life's biggest problems, so let us go to the Scriptures and see what God has to say.  Blessings to you, reader.


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