When You Are Sad And In Despair
Depression is real, and if you are fighting it you are not alone. Depression seems to have been the bane of many of life’s great leaders. In the Bible, Moses, Elijah, David, and Job all had to deal with it. In the secular world, Sir Winston Churchill used to call depression his ‘black dog’, and Ernest Hemingway referred to it as ‘the artist’s reward’.
President Abraham Lincoln battled depression and suicide all his adult life. There were times when for his own safety Lincoln would not allow himself to carry a knife, for fear that he would hurt himself, or worse. Read about Lincoln turning to the Bible to relieve his depression. Let the Scriptures help you just like they have helped so many of us. Sometimes depression can be a purely spiritual thing, read this – Depression Is a Spirit – It Must Be Fought with the Word of God.
Depression is the physical and emotional result of hopelessness – the ‘feeling‘ of hopelessness. We live in a world devoid of hope, and depression is the emotional product of that reality. The only thing that will actually change one’s life sufficiently as to destroy the cause, mechanics, and effects of depression is God’s hope and His word of hope. The answer is to get God’s hope back inside of you.
Hope will let you again see the ‘future positive possibility’ of your life. Without seeing it you will have no motivation or strength. The good Word of God, and the good word of others to you, can change the outlook and condition of your heart. Fight for God’s outlook with all you have. Fight it with the Word of God. (Also, confess the scriptures on Hopelessness.) Anyone who is among the living has hope.
God’s hope encourages, motivates, and keeps you on the road to faith, peace, and victory. And if you suffer from deep ongoing depression, get help. And please read this – Helping Others Is God’s Prescription for Depression.
It is in times of affliction – especially depression – that we need the closeness of God that we only get through fellowship with Him.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down (depression), but a good word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25 Holman Christian Standard Bible
These scriptures on depression will give you hope, will build your faith, and draw you closer to the one who is best prepared to make you whole again – your Maker. Confess and meditate on thse passages to win the fight against depression. The key is not losing Hope. Allow the hope of God to seep back into you. Remember, there is a real Person (God) behind each and every one of these promises. He promised them to you for a reason – to help you.
“Let The Sun Shine And The Birds Sing”…one day…one day…you will start to come out of your depression and sure enough that old sun is going to shine a little brighter and those birds are going to sing a little louder.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
I am not a trained psychologist. What I have written about in this booklet I gleaned from researching many articles written by experts in their field. A lot of this information and experiences have I personally experienced.
I was so depressed in the year 2003 that I entered a deep depression that kept me in bed for almost 2 years. Depression may be clinical and caused by chemical imbalances in your brain or it may be situational and caused by events in your life.
My depression was situational. Within months my parents and my wife’s parents all went to heaven. Around the same time, the Great Recession of the early 2000’s caused a successful computer company I founded to close its doors because our customers could not afford the specialized research computer systems we engineered when their businesses failed. My wife and I lost everything we had except our car and home. All of our savings and retirement accounts were depleted in a futile effort just trying to hold on until the economy revived. I remember being so desperate one day that I was down to my last $20. I had to choose whether to save it for food or use it for gas to drive to a job interview in Greensboro.
More than a few times I entertained ways to end my suffering but my God had other plans. My faith and my trust in my Lord kept me going and then one day – and it will happen to you too – one day the sun seemed to shine a little brighter and the birds seemed to sing a little louder and I came out of the fog of depression just as fast as I went into it.
My wife Debbie and I are praying that God’s perfect peace, love, and presence will fill your heart and comfort you with hope and encouragement for healing as His perfect plan unfolds for you. May God’s comforting arms and calming spirit give you and your family rest every night knowing that you are loved and prayed for. God bless you my friend!
Depression – No One Is Immune
The dark days of December can be a catalyst which brings to the surface all the negative thoughts that have brewed in the kettle of physical weariness and despondency. I couldn’t help thinking of that when I encountered the stories about three individuals who struggled with the demon of depression at the same time.
One was a respected musician and Christian leader, the composer of many hymns and songs with a list of theatrical credits almost as long as he was old who barricaded himself in his church office during Christmas week and ended his life with a gunshot to the head.
The same week a renowned pediatric heart surgeon, one of the finest in the world, unable to climb out of the pit of depression, took his life. This brilliantly gifted doctor performed 830 operations on children in 18 months with a 2% mortality rate. He had been featured on television documentaries and was worshipped by his patients. He was 45.
The third in this dark trilogy was a servant of The Lord of many years, also a doctor, a cardiologist who has spent her life helping people along with her husband, a surgeon. Both served as medical missionaries.
The third is recovering, but depression for the first two was fatal. Whenever the world, to say nothing of our families and close friends, is deprived of the presence of so great an individual it is a massive collective loss. We pass laws to protect people. We monitor our water, our food, and our borders to insure safety, but laws or boundaries can’t protect us from the darkness demon of depression.
Elderly people whose health has failed and who have little to look forward to are classic sufferers with depression, but today it is not only the elderly but those in the middle years with success and significance.
Why does this happen? And what can be done to prevent it? No one could answer those questions in two minutes. Depression is complex. It is not a lack of spirituality, or a deficiency in comprehending God’s plan or purpose for our lives. Christians as well as non-believers suffer, though I am confident that there are resources which can help the believer survive whereas others give up entirely on life.
Every person is a composite of the emotional, the physical, and the spiritual. There are times when depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain—something a person is no more responsible for than are those of us who wear glasses or have corrective surgery because a heart valve isn’t working properly.
But depression affects your thinking as you begin to doubt what you know to be true, and see darkness rather than light, and live in a funk that seems to press upon you. Telling someone to “snap out of it” is as senseless as telling a drowning individual to swim. I’m thinking of the woman who poured out her heart, tears streaming down her face, as she said, “God knows I would snap out of it if I only knew how!”
Surrounding an individual who is encountering depression with understanding, compassion, and strength is a beginning in helping build fences that save lives and help restore health and sanity. Ignoring those who hurt or trivializing the problem only makes it worse. God is not indifferent to those who suffer, whether it is a brilliant surgeon, a gifted teacher or intellectual, or a gray-haired grandfather who has worked a steady job over the years, whose health has failed and whose mental equilibrium has gone on strike.
There is both help and hope for the one who is depressed. While the road back may be painful and long, there is a way out of the darkness.
How Can This Serve A Purpose?
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I’m always fascinated to listen to people tell how God met them at their point of desperation. Take the Elegados, for instance. In his work for the copper and gold mines during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Mr. Elegado had the only car allowed to go back and forth to the mines near Baguio. In order to be permitted to pass check points he had to have a Japanese sticker on the car.
Eventually, however, he was arrested by the Japanese and taken to Manila to prison. For months his wife left their three children every weekend to search for her husband. Being a nurse, she knew that if she did not find him he would die, for he could not survive indefinitely on the daily ration of one bowl of rice and a lump of sugar or salt. Her heart cried out, “If there is a God–if You are really alive–help me.”
At the end of eight months of searching, she found him and began to bring food to him. God preserved his life through two more years of imprisonment in that dark place, and ever since that time she and her husband have been dedicated to doing all they can for the Lord, who literally gave them back their lives.
There is a postscript to the story. The Japanese imprisonment, horrible as it was, saved Mr. Elegado’s life. For immediately after he was arrested, the Filipino guerrillas came through the area to kill him. The sticker on his car to them meant cooperation with the enemy. But Mr. Elegado was safe in prison.
When we are in a very dark place, perhaps the darkness is only the shadow of God’s hand shielding us from greater danger. Psalm 91 says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (vss. 1 and 4).
Hope To Cling To
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.”
The Greek Philosopher, Thales, is credited with saying, “The most universal thing is hope, for hope stays with those who have nothing else.” The old philosopher made his point in that there are times when hope is the only thing that remains when everything else is gone. But for vast segments of the world’s population‑‑especially those who have nothing left but hope‑‑even hope seems to be dying.
For thousands of people in Africa and Eastern Europe, political conditions seem to drain the very buoyancy of hope from their lives. War, famine and disease leave in their wake suffering, despair and untold agony. True, Communism collapsed but the poverty and corruption left behind in its wake are to many a fiercer enemy. In the Middle East several million refugees ask themselves, “Will life ever return to normal?” But then we have to ask ourselves, “Is there such a thing as normalcy in the world anymore?”
Rudyard Kipling once asked the question, “When earth’s last picture is painted, will it be a picture of despair?” Whether it is the world’s political situation, the economy, the environment, or the gloomy forecast for the future, there is a lot of despair on the landscape today; but in spite of it all, there is hope‑‑not necessarily coming from the council chambers of the United Nations or the diplomatic envoys that shuttle from world capital to world capital, or in the rosy‑eyed forecasts that come from a few politicians.
The Bible says, “Anyone who is among the living has hope” (Ecclesiastes 9:4). The writer of Scripture knew that the only real hope in a hopeless world is in the hope that comes from God Himself. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable…” (I Corinthians 15:19). Paul saw the Christian hope reaching across the landscape of despair to the very presence of God Himself. It gave him an assurance that there is more to life than the hopelessness of life today.
How is it that a Christian has hope in a hopeless world? Two reasons: First, he believes that there is hope for the present because of God’s power to change the circumstances of despair. That is why Charles Allen, a noted writer, said that the man who gives up hope slams the door in the face of God.
Read the biographies of men and women such as Richard Wurmbrandt and Corrie ten Boom‑‑both of whom spent years in prisons‑‑and you will learn that hope is born of prayer. Hope in God is not wishful thinking but is based on the sure and certain promises of God.
Secondly, a Christian has hope in an otherwise hopeless world because he is sure that death is not the end of existence, and that confidence gives meaning to life‑‑no matter how difficult or desperate‑‑in the world of today. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament talks of that hope, which is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19).
Where is your hope today? If your hope rests only in men, or governments, or programs‑‑no matter how worthy‑‑you really have not much hope to live for. However, if your hope is in God, and you will trust Him, He will be a refuge from the stormy tempest and a hiding place from the storms of life. Yes, Jeremiah, the prophet of old, was right when he wrote, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7).
Is Anyone Listening?
“Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.”
Richard Senac stumbled across the great need people have for someone to listen to them. No, he isn’t a counselor. He was a hospital nurse recruiter who found that getting people up in the morning was no small task, so he started a business called Roosters, named after the barnyard creature that crows about the time the sun rises. Roosters was a telephone calling service that would awaken you in the morning with a variety of several hundred different sounds, from a 21‑gun salute to fingernails scratching on a blackboard if your starter takes something a little more bizarre to get you going in the mornings. Roosters would also put you to sleep at night with a variety of sounds.
Senac discovered the importance of having someone listen to you when one of his customers contacted him and said that he did not want to be awakened or put to sleep. He simply wanted someone to listen to him and say, “Yes!” or something like that at appropriate intervals of 30 seconds. If it were not so tragic, it would be humorous! Think of it! A recording that would respond with something like, “Yes,” “Is that right?” “Please tell me more about this; I’m really interested.”
Dr. Paul Tournier came from a different perspective. He was an internationally recognized psychiatrist and author. He believed that every person has a fundamental need: the need for someone to listen to him, to validate what he or she is saying, who he or she is. But he believed that for most of us this need is not met very well. He said, “It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really listened to. Listen to all the conversations of the world‑‑between nations as well as those between couples. They are for the most part dialogues of the deaf.” What a charge.
Interested in gaining some pointers on being a better listener? Then try these on for size:
Guideline #1: Open your mind and close your mouth when you listen to another. Usually we reverse it‑‑an open mouth and a closed mind. God gave you two ears and one mouth, thereby indicating the ratio to each other by which both should be used.
Guideline #2: Concentrate on what you are hearing, not what you intend to say. This means that you wait to think about your response until the lips of the person to whom you are talking stop moving. Then it is your turn to respond.
Guideline #3: Look the person in the eye with whom you are communicating. That means you do not stare at your feet or let your eyes focus on infinity or something twenty feet beyond the other person.
Guideline #4 Stop what you are doing, if possible, to concentrate fully on hearing what the other says. There are some exceptions to this rule, especially for barbers, airplane pilots, and radio announcers, but generally it applies to you.
Guideline #5: Get the facts before you respond. Do not jump to conclusions. Proverbs 18:13 came from the pen of a man who knew a lot about human nature when he wrote, “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and shame” (Living Bible). Chances are, the conclusions you arrived at, a priori, before you heard the facts, were based on willful prejudice. “It actually was not that way at all.” Before your husband begins talking to the family dog, or he gets Richard Senac’s recording of a voice which says, “Yes!” at appropriate intervals, better learn the importance of listening to each other. By the way, are you listening?
When Depression Knocks
“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.”
Mental health authorities say that at any given time 17% of the general populace is struggling with some kind of depression. If that’s true, and I have no reason to doubt it, one in five (more than two-thirds of them women) are struggling with the malady, this virus of your happiness and joy. If you are one of them, make a note of some simple guidelines which help you determine where you are and where you need to go for help.
First, ask yourself, am I really there or only suffering from a momentary set-back of some kind. That means you need to recognize some of the symptoms of the malady. Early warning signs of depression are withdrawal, difficulty in facing situations and people, procrastination, disregarding your appearance, a change in appetite, and a search for an escape of some kind or other, including drugs, alcohol, or the inability to pry yourself away from the TV.
Next, take inventory of how your habit patterns have changed. You used to take long walks and exercised regularly, but you find it more and more difficult to get out of bed, you avoid people, and you prefer to keep the blind pulled and watch TV. When that begins to be a pattern, you are yielding to depression. It’s hard to feel depressed when you see blue sky and green grass, when you walk on the beach, or on a trail, or rise early in the morning and walk briskly for a couple of miles.
Then ask yourself, “Have I caused my problem and is there something that I know that I should do to eliminate the situation?” Some depression is the result of allowing ourselves to get cornered or trapped. We allow something we ought not to, or we’re doing something which we know is wrong. You are allowing something in your life which you constantly try to cover, and you’re afraid of the consequences. No wonder you want to withdraw and climb into a hole.
“OK,” you say, “I have tried all of that, and it doesn’t work,” and you add a post script, and you say, “I’ve prayed for God’s help and, if I know my heart, I’m right with the Lord, but I’m still depressed.”
You need to voice three very difficult words, ones that smack of failure to you because you’ve always been able to handle things on your own. They are, “I NEED HELP!” When you have a virus that won’t go away, isn’t that what you tell your doctor, “I need help!” When your eyesight blurs, isn’t that what you tell the optometrist? So whom do you tell? Start with your husband or wife, your pastor, or possibly your family physician. There are times when medication helps immensely; there are other times when it only covers the problem.
But there is one thing that you can be sure of. God answers prayers for help in many different ways. Sometimes He gives us an immediate answer, lifting the cloud of depression. Sometimes He sends someone who listens, who serves as a sounding board who helps you see precisely what you need to do to work through the gloom; and sometimes He sends someone, a physician, who helps you in ways in which you can’t help yourself.
A closing thought. God is not the author of depression, though some of our depression comes by ignoring the directives He gives, refusing to live as He intends us to live. He is the one who brings health, wholeness, and healing to our broken hearts and lives. He is still the healer of broken hearts and a refuge for the troubled and hurting. While depression is not a friend, it can prod us to Him who is a friend who stays closer than a brother and who will walk with us through the gloom, and that is nothing but good.
Depression And Faith
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known for more than a century as the prince of preachers, began his remarkable ministry at the age of 18. Early in his ministry Spurgeon was speaking when a fire broke out in the tabernacle. Not hearing what the commotion was about, Spurgeon urged the people to remain seated, something that caused the deaths of several people. Spurgeon was devastated and the tragedy plunged this young man into deep depression. He overcame it, but for the rest of his life he battled depression, sometimes so severely that he couldn’t rise from his bed.
Depression is something that almost everyone faces, to some degree, at some point in time, but in most cases the depression is temporary and in a few days or weeks those dark clouds seem to lift and the sunshine appears. For others, however, like a dark shadow, depression becomes a jailer that locks you within the bowels of darkness and seems to allow no light into the cell.
There are many external factors which contribute to depression: unfulfilled expectations, personal failures of all kinds, circumstances from which there seems to be no escape, loneliness, let-downs, physical weariness, and the oppression which comes from Satan. Then there are internal or biological factors—chemical imbalances, temperaments which are dark and moody, and a host of other factors, far too elusive to document and often even to understand. Sometimes depression is spiritual. Look at Jonah, who ran from God, whose self-pity turned to depression. The individual who turns his back on God realizes there is no other hope or light, and that’s depressing. Sometimes trying to pinpoint the cause is futile. If it is there, it’s there no matter what has caused it. The objective is to escape its grasp.
Spurgeon took heart that one of his favorite biblical characters, an individual who was known as “a man after God’s own heart,” King David, struggled with depression. In one of David’s prayers he cried out, “O Lord… your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me… there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear… I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart” (Psalm 38:3-8).
But David threw himself on the mercy of God and his equilibrium was restored. Again he cried, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 43:5).
Some people work through their own depression. Others need help, and without strong individuals to lean on, they may be swallowed up by the darkness of the soul that vexes their lives. Knowing that it is OK to say, “I need help and need it now!” takes courage, but it’s the first step. If you see someone who withdraws, who isolates himself or herself, who neglects appearance, who sleeps or turns to drugs or alcohol, who despairs of getting better, you need to be the one who helps that person get help.
God is not indifferent to the suffering of someone who needs to break the bondage of depression, and those who struggle with it need help emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Personally if you have never struggled with depression, and but have sat and listened to those who describe its darkness, you know it is like listening to someone tell about a world that you’ve never entered; but helping them realize that life has not ended and as long as there is God there is hope, gradually lets them get their hand on the doorknob that leads down the hall to their families and their lives again. He is the God of the living, and as Jeremiah wrote, “his compassions fail not.”
Depression And Patience
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Have you ever watched a goldsmith as he heated a small ingot over a fire, then took his mallet and deftly struck blows that quickly changed the shape of the ingot into something that only he could see in his mind’s eye? I’ve watched that happen and noticed that the craftsman didn’t follow a book or a blueprint. He just knew what he wanted to do and also knew that if he continued the blows of his mallet, he would destroy the artistry that he was producing.
I’ve been thinking recently of a letter which I read, which came from a dear brother who was held in captivity by the FARC guerillas of Colombia for almost three years. His life was interrupted. His future was on hold, and his hope for deliverance grew dimmer month by month and, then, year by year.
Looking back over that time of discouragement and despair he said that God was doing something on the inside which He wanted his captors to see on the outside.
What’s good about depression? Not much, if you are the one who feels like you are under the giant treadmill that is grinding the juice out of the grapes. Yet when you are walking through the valley, if you can only see light at the other end, you can keep plodding on, knowing that nothing is forever.
The fact is that God often teaches his children some of the most valuable lessons we ever learn through difficulty and affliction (and that includes discouragement and depression). Roses never smell better than when their fragrance is released through crushing. And there is no perfume without the crushing. There can be no bread without the crushing of the grain. It’s always been that way. Isaiah observed, “Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it” (Isaiah 28:28).
He uses a picture—horses pulling a threshing cart, but it is the wheels of the cart which grind the grain. Frankly, it helps me to know that God knows how much I can handle, and though we may differ on that, at times, I know He is always right. He knows. He cares. And He will eventually say, “Enough!”
When you feel you are still in the fire, say:
- God knows better than I do when enough is enough.
- Take a moment and list to this old song of inspiration by The Perrys titled “The Potter Knows The Clay”.
- The fact that I am undergoing a trial, a dark period in my life, doesn’t mean for a moment that God has forsaken me. He not only brought me to this point, but He will walk with me through the valley and take me up on the other side.
- I will tell my doubts and fears where to get off and refuse to believe what I know to be untrue. With Paul I will affirm that even if everyone (my thoughts included) are liars, God is true!
- I will search the Scriptures and hold on to the promises of God, knowing that He is a gentleman and will keep His word.
- I will strive not to be impatient, believing that God will give me deliverance in His time. I’ll also look for parallels between what I’m going through and Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in the hostile environment of Babylon.
- I will not throw away my confidence in God. And though He slay me, with Job I will trust Him.
If you could only see the whole which God sees, your valleys would never be so dark nor your days so long. That’s where the element of faith comes into the picture. Trust Him, friend. Nothing is forever. Seek His fellowship.
Stages Of Depression
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you.”
According to a report in a Journal of the American Medical Association, 8% of all men and 20% of all women will experience serious depression in the course of a lifetime. Some live with it. Some try to escape from it. Many are overcome by it. Their names are those found in the fine print of the obituary columns but seldom will you learn that the real killer is depression.
In his book “How To Win Over Depression” author Tim LaHaye describes three phases of depression as 1. Discouragement; 2. Despondency; and 3. Despair. Discouragement is the mildest form of depression, and in the early phases there are things that an individual can do to help himself—get outdoors, change your schedule, get exercise, lighten your load, even go out for dinner. God knows it is no sin to get discouraged. Even spiritual giants, on occasion, got discouraged, but if your discouragement is not confronted, it quickly turns into a downhill slide bringing you to the second phase.
When you drift into despondency, you begin to feel overwhelmed. You don’t care, and if you do (and sometimes you care a lot) you still don’t know what to do to emotionally turn the corner. I am thinking of the middle‑aged woman who sat in my office describing her feelings of hopelessness. “My pastor says, ‘Snap out of it or else people will stop praying for you,'” she sobbed with tears coursing down her cheeks. “God knows I would if I could.”
Feelings of despair are only deepened by the use of alcohol or non-prescription drugs. Neither can you escape it by running from it. This stage is marked by lethargy and inaction. “Hey, come on and play golf with us!” a friend says. “No thanks! I don’t feel like it.” Psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser believes that at times we choose not to feel better because then we would have to deal with personal problems from which we are trying to escape. Sometimes running from God is part of that downhill slide. Read the story of Jonah and you see a man who slept in the storm—not because he was tired, I believe, but because he wanted to escape from reality.
If your despair is because you, like Jonah, are running from God, knock on His door and get things squared away quickly. But if you know your heart and you are at peace with him and your world, you need to talk with your doctor and he or she needs to evaluate you.
Nobody condemns you because you need an antibiotic, right? We wear glasses to help us see better. Sometimes your depression is the result of a chemical imbalance, and medication will allow you to live a normal, productive, and joyful life. And that’s when I say thank God for physicians who correctly diagnose a physical problem and work with us in putting it to flight.
Because you are a unique individual who not only is loved by God but is considered a person of worth and value in His sight, you have to recognize yourself as someone of potential which has never been realized. You have to realize that never, never under any set of given circumstances is life so desperate that there is no solution‑‑whether it is a change of jobs or a change of attitude.
You have to remember when depression knocks at your door that you are among some of God’s choicest servants, like Elijah in the Old Testament and no less than the Apostle Paul in the New, who met depression on the field of battle and found an answer. They did and so can you. Yes, there is a solution to depression, whether it is discouragement, despondency or despair.
Depression And The Holidays
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Among teenagers and young adults depression is a major contributing factor to suicide, now the third leading cause of death among young people age 15-24. For years it was taboo to talk about depression, but in recent years our understanding of depression has allowed many in every walk of life to talk about it, almost as freely as they would should they need to see a doctor as the result of a burst appendix.
We’ve come a long ways in realizing that depression is not necessarily a spiritual problem. In the 60s, Ken Taylor’s Living Bible became popular. Then suddenly, giving a talk at a luncheon, his voice faltered and became gravelly. There’s a connection between your emotions and your voice. Stress produces ulcers in some people. Stress in the voice for others. When he sought the help of a Christian psychiatrist, the doctor suggested that this “voice defect was God’s way of punishing Taylor for tampering with His Word.” His response? He calmly continued the task God had given to him, thanking God for this infirmity as Paul told the Thessalonians we ought to do when we face difficulties.
Dr. William Glasser, a sort of common-sense-psychiatrist and author of Reality Therapy, believes that depression causes a chemical imbalance in the brain, and a chemical imbalance in the brain also feeds depression. They are linked together.
If depression has run in your family, you are more prone to struggle with this at some point in your life than others, but that doesn’t depreciate your value in the sight of God any more than the fact that poor eyesight runs in other families.
Holidays and winter are a major contributor to depression, especially when they are accompanied by loneliness and separation from your family or close friends. At times medication can help those who struggle with this, and thank God for that help, but often we medicate a problem or situation which can be changed and with the change the depression factor begins to dissipate.
If you are facing post-holiday blues bordering on depression, don’t punish yourself or think, “If I were more spiritual, I could snap out of this.” But I do suggest that you force yourself to talk to someone, letting the person know exactly how you feel. You also need to remind yourself of what you’ve probably pushed aside—your situation is not a matter of indifference to God. He knows where you are and will bring you out. You not only need to talk to someone else but also with God. In his times of despair and depression, David turned to God, who gave him deliverance. And finally, get help. To do that you’ve got to overcome the feeling that you are sliding into a pit of despair and either feel incapable of reaching out to someone or you don’t want to.
But whatever you do, don’t give up. With David you can cry out, “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).
Depression Is Not A Sin
Is it a sin to be depressed? The doctor says I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that he can treat with medication, but a friend of mine says I shouldn’t do this because I just need to pray and have more faith. Who is right? I can’t stand this much longer.
Billy Graham says “Let me ask you a question: If you broke your arm in an accident, do you think your friend would claim it was a sin for you to have a broken arm, and all you needed to do was pray? I doubt it.”
Neither is it a sin for you to seek treatment for a chemical imbalance in your brain. The Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)–and it’s true: Our bodies and minds are very complex. Although doctors can’t solve all our problems, we should be grateful that God has enabled them to understand more about our bodies and minds, and has given them new ways to overcome many of our problems. Don’t feel that you are somehow sinning by seeking treatment for your depression; it would be wrong for you not to seek treatment.
Don’t misunderstand, however. God has given us the gift of prayer, and prayer should be an important part of your life as you struggle with this problem. Through prayer we draw near to God, and the closer we get to Him, the more we will realize that He loves us and wants to help us.
Make sure of your commitment to Christ, and then ask Him to guide you as you seek treatment. In addition, let God’s promises saturate your mind and heart. The psalmist wrote, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? … Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:5).
Scripture For Comfort When Depressed
God Will Never Leave You
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Don’t be dismayed because God is with you! Just as he swore to never desert the people of Israel, he will NEVER leave you or forsake you because you are in Christ. You are his child, and like a dad clearing a path through the woods for his small child, so God is going ahead of you, clearing the way.
God Will Strengthen You and Uphold You
…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).
In your depression, you feel like you can’t hang on to God. Like you’re weak and helpless, unable to do anything. Sometimes you can’t even get out of bed.
Good news! You don’t have to hold on to God because he is holding to you. When you fall, he will uphold you with his righteous right hand. When you are weak, he will strengthen you. The reality is, you ARE weak, you’re just feeling it more acutely now. Take heart, because God loves to sustain the weak.
God Hears Your Cry
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God (Psalm 40:1-3).
God hears your cries and sees your tears. He is not ignoring you and his heart breaks over your suffering. He takes no delight in the suffering of his people.
You can be sure that God will respond to your pleas for mercy. Maybe not when you want or in the way you want, but he is your loving, merciful Father, and he can’t ignore the cries of his children. He will put a new song in your mouth and set your feet upon the rock.
The Lord is Your Shield
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3).
God is your shield when you are weak, helpless, and hopeless. He is standing over you, guarding you, protecting you, keeping watch over you. Even though you are broken by depression, the almighty God is your shield.
He will lift your head out of the dirt and set you on your feet again. He will move you to sweet places and green pastures. You can trust HIS sustaining, protecting power even though you have no strength in yourself.
God is Near to the Brokenhearted
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:18-19).
When you are sunk into the depths of depression, you feel constantly brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. The soundtrack of your life is in a minor key.
God has a special place in his heart for the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit. When you find yourself under a crushing burden, God draws near to you. He sees you in the midst of your affliction and moves toward you with deliverance. Even though you can’t feel his presence, God is nearer to you now than ever, and he is working on your behalf.
The Lord Will Renew Your Strength
…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 ).
Few things sap your strength like depression. Everything seems overwhelming and impossible. Even the most mundane acts require a massive amount of effort.
The good news is that God is in the business of giving strength to those who have none. He loves to sustain those who are fainting and give life to those who feel completely depleted. Wait for the Lord and he will give you life. He has promised to renew your strength even though you don’t feel it now. He has good things in store for you.
A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
…a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice (Isaiah 42:3).
A bruised reed is one that that is on the verge of breaking, and a faintly burning wick is a flame that is almost entirely extinguished. That’s a very apt description of depression. You feel as though you’re about to be completely broken or totally extinguished.
But He doesn’t break bruised reeds or blow out flames that are sputtering and smoking. Rather, he nurtures them and heals them and brings them back to life. God doesn’t despise you in your bruised, broken, smoldering state. Rather, he is near to you, nurturing you and sustaining you.
Come All Who Labor and Are Heavy Laden
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus gives rest to those who are crushed by the weight of the world. He is gentle and lowly in heart, and he doesn’t rebuke those who find themselves laboring under the overwhelming yoke of depression.
Come to Jesus in your depression and find rest for your soul. Let him carry the heavy end of your burden. Confess your utter weakness and frailty and let him be the burden bearer.
Nothing Can Separate You From God
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
When you’re haunted by the specter of depression, you feel very cut off from the love of God. Everything seems dark and bleak, as if there will never be another good thing in your life. You feel as though God has left you to wallow in the mire.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Because you are in Christ, nothing can separate you from God’s love. The only way God will stop loving you is if He stops loving Jesus. Though you may feel alone and unloved, there is absolutely NOTHING, including depression, that can stop God from loving you.
Encouraging Psalms to Help Battle Depression
Depression is not something that magically disappears when you slap a band aid on it. Sometimes the last thing you want to hear is another Bible verse or an encouraging word from someone who has not walked in your shoes. We all have moments when we need someone to grab our hand and help pull us up out of the depths of despair. It’s the moments when we cannot even reach back for the extended hand that are hardest to get through. No matter what you are facing today or tomorrow, or what you went through yesterday, there is hope for you. Psalms puts words to the hardest seasons of life when it’s hard to find words to pray.
I’ve been there in the dark season of depression. I know what it’s like to wonder if this thick cloud that seems to surround me will ever lift. I’ve sat in the waiting rooms, read the articles, and attempted to talk about the moments that made me question if I was ever going to be ok again.
We cannot cover depression with a bandage or pretend like there are not tangible physical reasons for mental health struggles. But what we can do is use the resources we have wisely and share the hope we find in scripture.
There are a few Psalms that helped me through some of the darkest moments and I want to share them with you. The Psalmist conveys my feelings in ways I could never verbalize on my own. I have prayed these Psalms many times while asking God to deliver me from the struggle at hand. Every time I read them, I am reminded again of how amazing and alive God’s Word really is. While I love the entire chapter of each of these Psalms, I included the highlights that speak directly to my heart. For deeper study, read the entire chapter.
If you are encouraged by one of these, it’s your turn to hold out your hand to a friend and pull her up. Be an encourager and pass this on!
A Psalm for the fearful heart
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:1,14
Fear is gripping. It’s the feeling that starts small but grows and seems to take us down faster than we want to go. But God gives us big truths to cling to from this psalm. He is our light! He is our strength! When fear grips us, we know where to go to find light in the dark and strength when we feel depleted. It’s not that we immediately jump for joy and have miraculous physical power, but remembering where the light comes from, helps lead us in the right direction when we are in the depths of the dark.
A Psalm for the waiting heart
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3
Seasons of depression go by slower than other seasons of life. The days linger and the nights seem to never end. But the psalmist here reminds us that God pulls us up out of that terrible place and gives us steady ground to stand on. When we feel like the night will never end, this gives us fresh hope to rise up with a new song for a new day.
A Psalm for the discouraged heart
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5
The question why is one that is hard to answer in seasons of depression. Sometimes there is no good answer. But we can always find an answer for where to find hope. This psalm spells it out for us and walks us toward God with praise and thanks for salvation.
A Psalm for the grieving heart
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:6-9
Grief changes us. It forces us to stop and acknowledge the pain of the world around us. Loss ushers us into an emotional cycle that we can try to ignore only to be hit harder when the next wave of grief overcomes us. Tears are not a sign of weakness, they prove a person is letting him or herself come face to face with something difficult. The hope we hold is that God hears the cries of His children and He gives us words to help express the deep ache of a heart in grief.
A Psalm for the overwhelmed heart
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:1-3,10
Life is paralyzing when struggles surround us. There is no shame in being still, and this psalm gives us the very tangible value to slowing down the soul and letting the season of struggle be a gift rather than a curse. Being still and letting God into the depths of the overwhelm is perhaps a key to finding the help we need to make it through another day.
A Psalm for the terrified heart
“Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me; all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:1-4
Life is complicated when people let us down or hurt us on purpose. But there is one person who is always steady, faithful, and true. If you are worried about what might happen next or afraid of what people will do or say, know that God is gracious, merciful, loving, and kind. He wants to hear you pray the words of the psalms.
A Psalm for the desperate heart
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:1-2
Walking through depression isn’t something I want to do again, but I am thankful for the season when my heart was faint because I experienced God’s presence like never before. These Psalms gave me prayers to pray when I had no words. Wounds of life had run deep and my mind was filled with fear and despair.
No matter what you are going through or how hard life may be, speak these simple psalms to the Lord today and let Him meet you right where you are. May God bless you and begin to give you a glimpse of hope.
Desperate People Do Not Have To Do
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. The Lifeline is comprised of a national network of over 150 local crisis centers, combining custom local care and resources with national standards and best practices.
About the Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a leader in suicide prevention and mental health crisis care. Since its inception, the Lifeline has engaged in a variety of initiatives to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for all, including innovative public messaging, best practices in mental health, and groundbreaking partnerships.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Vibrant Emotional Health launched the Lifeline on January 1, 2005. Vibrant Emotional Health, the administrator of the grant, works with its partners, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), National Council for Behavioral Health, and others, to manage the project, along with Living Works, Inc., an internationally respected organization specializing in suicide intervention skills training.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is independently evaluated by a federally-funded investigation team from Columbia University’s Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene. The Lifeline receives ongoing consultation and guidance from national suicide prevention experts, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders through the Lifeline’s Steering Committee, Consumer/Survivor Committee, and Standards, Training and Practices Committee.
Contact The Lifeline
You can always talk to someone by calling the Lifeline number.