“When I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” Micah 7:8
“There are dark providences.” John Murray
The Bible is a book that neither celebrates nor shuns depression. On the contrary, it deals with depression and sadness and grief with a tone of reality and soberness that helps those of use who suffer with depression overcome it.
Biblical characters deal with depression in the following ways:
- praying – this is probably the most common response to a downcast soul. The Bible is replete with phrases like, “Hear me, O Lord”; “I call out to you”; and, “Hear my plea” (see Pss. 28:1-2, 77:1-2, 102:1-2). The power and joy available to us is often accessed by prayer. All we have to do is ask (see Matt. 7:7-8).
- singing – yes…singing. Why can’t depressed people sing? Are songs only written in times of felicity? The Bible says that God is a God who gives “songs in the night” (Job 35:10; Pss. 42:8, 77:6); that is, when times are dim and difficult. We can’t neglect this form of expression simply because we’re down.
- waiting – although it isn’t one of our favorite things to do, waiting relieves us of a premature escape from our depression. How? Because waiting — even though it’s difficult — puts us on God’s timetable (Ps. 25:21). Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage wait for the Lord!”
- repentance – sometimes depression is a result of poor, sinful decisions. The physical effects of sin are all too common. In fact, they’re so common that their often dismissed as health-related issues. Symptoms include sleeplessness (Job 7:4), loss of appetite (Ps. 42:3), weakness (Pss. 31:10, 38:10), disconnectedness (Ps. 38:11), and inability to concentrate. Repentance is the only solution (Ps. 38:18).
- thinking/meditating – meditation isn’t a neutral state of mind, but instead is a re-chewing, a re-thinking that helps the mind reach clarity and perspective. Examples of this are found in Psalm 1 and Psalm 4:8, which says, “Ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” This is an unapologetically honest conversation with our reality. James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Stop avoiding. Think.
The reason, I think, that these points are so relevant is because they are the antithesis of what we typically do when we’re depressed. We stop praying and singing, because we’re too busy worrying. We stop waiting and repenting, because we’re too busy fueling our self-pity or anger. We stop thinking and meditating on truth, because, well let’s face it, truth is often at odds with our feelings when we’re battling depression. Truth says, “Pray. Sing.” and our hearts reply, “I just don’t feel like it.” But the Bible can help us overcome depression.
Finally, the compassionate God is well aware of your depression. He will see you through it, He will sustain you (Ps. 55:22) until you can say, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Ps. 56:8). You are not forsaken in your sadness.