This morning, I preached about the subject of depression. I am no stranger to this. I can remember experiencing depression as early as age 9. I continued to battle through middle and high school. At age 17, I thought I would do what the preachers on television said and rebuke it. No matter how many warfare Scriptures I quoted and hocus pocus I tried to put on the devil, the depression still existed.
I went into my first marriage at age 20 with this lingering problem. Marriage couldn’t solve it. Three children couldn’t solve it. It was not until I was around she 30 that I reached out for help. For almost 2 years, I was a guinea pig for medication. I was then sent to a psychiatrist who prescribed what helped me at my lowest point. I finally began to understand what it felt like to be joyful and more consistent.
Many of you who are reading this understanding what I’m talking about. You struggle with anxiety and/or depression. While it is an issue of the brain’s chemicals, there are some things we can do biblically to help. I jokingly say that I need both prayer and medication. I will be the first to tell you to go to a doctor for help, but don’t forget to include the Great Physician.
Many think that depression is a modern problem, but it is not. Moses, after being physically and emotionally spent dealing with a bunch of whining Israelites for decades, asks God if He could just die. Elijah, after the emotionally charged victory at Mt. Carmel, is under threat to be killed by Jezebel and asks God to die. God gives Him rest and food, and Elijah balances out. Asaph, in Psalm 73, laments over his personal problems and wonders why the wicked are “blessed” and he is “cursed”. In verse 17, he states that he gains perspective when He enters the sanctuary of God. It is when we turn our eyes upon Jesus that we can find perspective in the midst of our depression.
I want to state some biblical principles that, coupled with professional care, can provide some relief.
- Depression comes when we are depleted. We easily get physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. When we do, we need to take care of ourselves in all 3 areas. Sometimes poor nutrition, lack of exercise, or poor rest contribute. We must take care of ourselves.
- Depression results in feelings of lost hope. Many take their own lives because they cannot get a sense of hope. Don’t automatically assume that those who feel like they are without hope are unbelievers. Depression affects both believers and unbelievers.
- Depression can be treated spiritually through time with God. That is what Asaph said in Psalm 73:17. I experienced this personally through a quiet time of worship on Saturday nights before leading worship on Sundays.
- Depression demands a redirection of our thoughts (Philippians 4:8). This verse gives a list of things on which to focus. If you fill your mind with unwholesome things, unwholesomeness will flow from your life.
- Depression can be lifted through prayer (I Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:6, 7). We are told to cast all our cares upon the Lord. That means to pray about EVERYTHING.
- Depression is helped by community (Genesis 2:18; Hebrews 10:23-25). Most of us tend to isolate ourselves when we are depressed when God designed us to thrive in community. God saw Adam and said it was not good for him to be alone, so he created Eve. One of our ladies at church jokingly asked if that means it is good for the woman to be alone (She is a single mom). God does not want any of us to be alone in the sense of going through life without a human support system. This support system is designed for encouragement. That is how the church is supposed to function – as a body of encouragement, serving to bring out the best in our brothers and sisters in Christ.
All of these components work together. I am not denying the physiological issues behind it while I am not denying the ways we can personally care for ourselves. God has given us people and tools to overcome in this area. The road to overcoming may be a slow one. Many struggle for years. May this post bring awareness to mental illness and lead us to pray for those who struggle daily and do not have adequate help.