This week I want to talk about depression. I do not want to come across melodramatic, but I think this is an issue that has been neglected in the church. I have sat in a lot of church services and have not heard one sermon on it. This surprises me, honestly, the Bible is filled with verses and passages that speak to depression. People such as Job,Solomon, or the Psalmists, though maybe not climically depressed, certainly cried out in deep anguish and sorrow and listlessness. So, I thought I might be able to be a voice for Christians who struggle with this. Admittedly, this is an uncomfortable topic. At least for me it is. But that is something that I want to change. While it may be hard, we should not be ashamed or embarassed to admit to people who care about and love us that we deal with depression. I want to talk about 2 points. One, why I personally (people become depressed for a lot of reasons) as a Christian struggle with depression , and second, ways you can use the Word to combat depression.
First, let me give you a quick background. I have struggled off and on with depression since the end of my 7th grade year. That just so happens to be when I gave my life to Christ, and I know that is no coincidence. Having your eyes open to the fact that you are a sinner in need of a Savior is truly shameful. We as humans can be a wee bit prideful. I know it was certainly upsetting and overwhelming for me. On top of that, discovering that the very world you are living in has nothing to satisfy your soul can make everything feel meaningless.In fact, most everything is meaningless. It is not that anything is wrong, neccessarily, just nothing feels right. Everything can be “perfect” and your soul still remains downcast. It is like the Psalmist says, “why so downcast, oh my soul?” I have spent a lot of time asking that. You tell yourself over and over that you are redeemed, and that your purpose is to make Him known, and you have a wonderful family and great friends but life is just blah. You are not alone.
The entirety of Ecclesiastes is about how life has no purpose apart from living for God. Like whoah. That is heavy stuff. We make light of it I think. Does it make us reconsider our lives? Someone with all the riches, women, and wisdom anybody could want says all of that is pointless. I think that he has pretty good authority on the matter. Waking up and going to work morning after morning for your family is utterly meaningless unless you do it for God’s glory or whatever you fill your days with. “For God’s glory,”is a phrase that is thrown around tons, but is daunting. In fact, it is so hard, it makes trying to live for Christ feel pointless sometimes. It is like you are inbetween a rock and a hard place. We see over and over verses like 1 Corinthians 16:13, ” Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
That is a whole lot of things that we are to be doing and wrestling against . It causes me to get frustrated with myself, to hate myself. To get battle weary. My depression is as if I have been shot in battle, and rather than let a doctor take it out because it will hurt and take more effort than I can muster, I leave it in, crawl off to the side of the battle and wait and hope and pray for death. I would be free of making mistakes, of pain, I would meet my savior, the very reason I had been fighting at all.
“and He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Verses like the one above made me hate this life. I long for peace, rest, and an obediant and willing spirit that no longer has to be beat into submission.
I thought that meant something was wrong with me. In truth, it is the attitude we are to have. Jesus calls us to hate our own life (Luke 14:26), and Paul says that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It is okay that life is hard and unappealing. To have someone say that helped me in ways I can not begin to explain. To live is Christ and to die is gain has become my mantra. Especially paired with “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world.” These verses restore my hope and my peace. This world isn’t supposed to be great. That was and is freeing to me. I have shifted my hope from this world to the next. It has taken a toll on my heart. As my mom always says, “getting from glory to glory can be messy.” As always, she is right, but I know this mess will be worth it when I have endured to the end.
James 1:2-4, 12 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast (or perseveres) under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
This is how I have found joy and hope in times of deep despair.
For those of you who are battle weary, remeber that He is the one who restores us, us picking ourselves up does more harm than good.
Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT God is the strength of my heart and portion forever.
Isaiah 40:28, “He gives strength to the weart, and to him who lacks might He increases power.”
2 Corinthians 12:9, And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
In short, combatting depression for me was about letting go of my pride, shifting my hope from this world, and allowing people to see our hurts and our flaws. hat is what allows our peers to see what Christ is doing in us.
lots of love,