“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 42:11
Depression is a controversial topic amongst Christians. While some believe depression is a medical condition, others believe it is spiritual. Some Christians encourage medication; others believe the problem is spiritual and should be dealt with only spiritually – without medical assistance.
Regardless of the controversy, depression exists. Approximately ten percent of the population suffers from some degree it. Merriam-Webster defines depression as “(1) a state of feeling sad: dejection; (2) : a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies .” Dejection and hopelessness are valid issues. The controversy surrounding treatment adds to the despair the victim is already suffering.
How does a Christian deal with his or her depression? What is the proper way to react when you or a loved one is suffering from these very real symptoms? Because there are so many unknowns about the human brain and depression, it’s important to focus on what we do know:
God always hears the prayers of His children with depression. Psalm 34:17 reads, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” This means that those who are depressed have an audience with the Lord. He hears their prayers. Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
God cares intimately about those with depression. Many with depression sense that they are drowning or overwhelmed with waves of sadness. God cares deeply about them as they endure this. 1 Peter 5:6-7 states, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” God empathizes with those suffering depression. He does not neglect or reject them; he does not leave them to fight this battle alone.
God will deliver those with depression. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God will console those who are suffering from this disease, and often they are able to help others who later suffer from something similar. Psalm 34:17 says that the Lord delivers His children who cry to Him for help. It will happen; deliverance is as certain as God’s Word.
God has big plans for those with depression. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” There is always hope. God’s plans do not revolve around depression. 1 Peter 4:12-13 say, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Jesus’ glory will be revealed. Those who suffer can anticipate His magnificence and know their future is secure and full of joy.
God created our brains and emotions. He knows how to cure them and has promised to hear, care for, deliver, and provide a hopeful future for those who suffer. Depression may be a mystery, but the God who reigns above all is not, and we can trust in His promises.