10 Truths When a Christian Experiences Depression

  1. Depression is not necessarily because of sin. There are some who think if a believer experiences depression, then it must be because of sin. However, there are various reasons for depression. Although sin can be a reason, so can hunger (physical or emotional), loneliness, loss, chronic pain, and tiredness.
  2. Depression is not a sign of faithlessness or unfaithfulness. In the Scriptures we read of faithful persons of God who had bouts of depression, including Jeremiah, Job, Hannah, Elijah, and Paul. Throughout church history, Christians such as Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and A. W. Pink likewise experienced depression.
  3. God’s promises are truth, not one’s feelings. Rarely are feelings honest—especially when one is struggling with depression. Feelings will say one is unimportant, worthless, or unloved. One must be anchored on the truth of God’s Word. As Luther wrote: “Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving; My warrant is the Word of God, naught else is worth believing.”
  4. We have an adversary who seeks to take advantage of one’s depression. The devil is able to plant negative thoughts in people’s minds. Not every thought is one’s own. Sometimes, in fact, it can be difficult to tell the difference. Yet, when thoughts encourage despair or harm, these are certainly from the evil one. Still, there can seem to be such a diabolical logic—but the adversary’s intentions are always to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10).
  5. Your family and friends would not be better off without you. One of the most ruthless and deceptive lies told by the evil one to the depressed is that their loved ones would be better off without them. However, the loss and anguish family and friends would experience is unfathomable. 
  6. God has neither forgotten nor forsaken you. One of the areas where feelings can become very misleading is when God “feels” a million miles away. God promises to never forget, leave, or forsake those who are His (see Isa. 49:15; Heb. 13:5).
  7. Your life is not worthless. With depression, thoughts and feelings both feed off the other. Negative thoughts continue to drive negative feelings, and those feelings trigger continuous negative thoughts. One’s thoughts can influence a person to come to the conclusion his life is worthless; however, the fact God gave His Son, and Jesus shed His own blood, to redeem you shows your incredible worth. 
  8. Your failures do not define you. Memories, like continuous devastating waves of a tsunami, can come rushing into the mind of the depressed. Memories of failures in school, in work, in sports, as a friend, as a parent, as a son or daughter, as a Christian, and as a human being. Sanctification is a lifelong process of changing from glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18). Still, your identity, as a whole, is in Christ (see Eph. 2).
  9. Light and joy will eventually return. The deep blackness and joylessness of the pit of depression can seem to be perpetual, like a never ending nightmare. As long as a night might seem, dawn eventually comes. Similarly, a dawn will eventually come. The night of depression is not forever (see Mic. 7:8).
  10. It’s alright to get help. Needing the help of others is not a sign of weakness, but part of being human. While God created us for Himself, it is He who said it’s not good for man to be alone. It is He who created the institutions of marriage, family, friendship, community, and the church. Each of us need these. Even Jesus surrounded Himself with His closest disciples just prior to His crucifixion. When one is dealing with depression, although he wants to isolate himself, he needs his family and friends. He needs his pastor or professional counselor. God gives us one another to help one another. It’s not only alright to get help, but it can be detrimental to refuse the help and resources God provides.

Depression can be debilitating to a person. These truths will not take one’s depression away, but may they be of help to keep running the race, and as grace to persevere when everything inside wants to give up.

Spring’s Declaration of Our Everlasting Hope

Living in Minnesota, the winters can seem rather long. In fact, some can seem forever. The sky is often gray and dismal, and the temperature biting. “Seasonal depression” is not uncommon here.

March and April can be taunting months. Warm, sunny days and melting snow—then comes another snowfall. Repeat the process. I remember one year this happened several times, and one could sense the irritability in many people (including myself). Although the blustery, lifeless winters would appear to have a stranglehold, spring proves to be victorious as life bursts forth throughout the landscape.

In his book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis tells of the evil white witch who brought perpetual winter to the land of Narnia. Yet, certain citizens (i. e., the Beaver’s) remained steadfast in their hope in Aslan and his promise of the coming spring. Mr. Beaver quotes the ancient rhyme:

“Wrong will be right,
when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar,
sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth,
winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane,
we shall have spring again.” [1]

Lewis’ series, The Chronicles of Narnia, is an allegorical story of Creation, the Fall, and Redemption. The winter wonderfully portrays the brutal coldness of the witch’s heart, as well as the barrenness and harshness of the ice and snow. These capture well the absolute evil of the adversary (the devil), and the  impoverishing effects of sin: loneliness, guilt, greed, violence, evil, and death. I know Hollywood makes entertainment of these, the education system scoffs at the source of them, and Washington and world leaders make use by exploiting these. Regardless, the reality of these is before us continually.

The situation, indeed, appears hopeless. However, just as the Beaver’s held to the promises of ancient rhymes, we also have ancient promises we can hold onto with confidence.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. ~ Romans 8:18-25

Because of sin, creation was subjected to bondage, corruption, and futility. For centuries, for millennia, creation has been groaning—left to suffer in the ever bitter winter. However, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the sunlight has pierced the dreary skies. The temperature is rising, and the snow and ice are melting. Although the winds still bite, the eternal Spring draws ever closer! At that time,

A new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:1-4

Although the devil and wicked men sought, and continue to seek, to silence Jesus, His Gospel continues on and will not stop.

As Lewis writes, in a manner as only he could,

“‘It means,’ said Aslan, ‘that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards’” [2]

Darkness will continue to try to smother the light; evil will continue to resist the good; and the wicked will continue to persecute the righteous. These would forever perpetuate the winter; however, the light of Christ has already dawned. Even now the ice is melting. Although the blustery, lifeless winter of sin at times seems to have a stranglehold, when Christ returns His Eternal Spring will prove to be victorious as life bursts forth gloriously throughout the landscape—to never succumb to another winter again.

Notes:

[1]  C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950), 74-75

[2]  Ibid., 159-160.

Everybody Cries

While many of my political and religious views are quite different than those of the band REM, they have a song I like and have found comfort in. The song is called, “Everybody Hurts,” and it encourages persons to keep pressing on because they are not alone, as everybody cries.

Many of us have learned to bottle up everything inside and to not display our emotions—especially sadness and tears. “Big boys and girls don’t cry,” we are told. Crying is for sissies, we are taught. However, crying is part of being human. Jeremiah the prophet was a tough cookie, as he endured constant persecution. Yet, he is known as the “weeping prophet,” as he cried for his country and coming judgement. King David, was anything but a wimp. He, as a young shepherd took out lions and bears. He took down Goliath. He was a fierce warrior in battle. He was not a dude to mess with. Yet, he tore his robes and cried when friends died or when confronted with his sins. No one is more manly than Jesus! He was gentle and humble, but who could willingly endure the torture and suffering He went through? Yet, we are told He wept.

Perhaps you or someone you know needs to cry. If so, it is alright. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, let them do so. Do not ridicule or shame them. Crying is a natural form of release. Suppressing emotions and refusing to deal with feelings and situations are not healthy but can lead to mental health issues (e.g., depression, etc.).

“I don’t like crying in front of people,” some will object. That is fine. If you need to cry, play a sad song or watch a sad movie by yourself.  Cry into a pillow. In any case, just as laughing is part of being human, so is crying. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a demonstration of being a person. As REM says, “Everybody hurts sometimes.” 

Cry it out and keep pressing on. Things will get better.