What do Job, David, Elijah, Jeremiah and the Apostle Paul all have in common? Well, the Bible says all of these Biblical giants experienced sadness and sorrow … what we might call depression. Job suffered from physical pain and devastating loss. Jeremiah was overwhelmed by the disobedience and suffering of his people. David mourned over his own failure and the ripple effect it had in his family and nation. Elijah and Paul experienced loneliness and exhaustion as a price of their call and ministry. All of these were godly men commended by God, and their stories were given to us as examples of human sadness. The fact is all of us become discouraged occasionally. And yet, somehow, it feels wrong to feel sad, discouraged or depressed as Christian. After all, the Bible implores us to be joyful in everything and to count it all joy when we experience difficult times. Shouldn’t our faith be enough to help us overcome our depression and break free from the dark cloud we find our self under?
I have sat in a church pew for more years than I want to count. As a pastor, I have talked to hundreds of individuals who were experiencing discouragement and sadness. I have had a firsthand seat where depression was often deemed to be simply a spiritual condition that can be cured with prayer or by quoting a couple verses. I have seen people suffering from depression be criticized for a lack of faith and told if they would only yield to the Holy Spirit they would know the “joy of the Lord.” I am not saying I do not believe prayer and Scripture are major factors in helping a Christian move from sadness to joy. Nor am I denying that depression can be spiritually induced. Guilt from having wronged and hurt others can be a factor. A sense of having failed to live out of the will of God can give rise to depression. Certainly the fear of death and what might follow can sap the joy and peace out of life. In such cases, Scripture, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines can make available what the Bible calls the “balm of Gilead” that heals the sin-sick soul (Jeremiah 8:22). In this article, however, I want to address other contributing factors that need to be considered when dealing with depression.
Physical Factors: Struggling to the Point of Exhaustion
We often ignore the fact that our spiritual and psychological state of mind is highly affected by what is happening to us physically. Sometimes depression is the result of exhaustion. In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah, worn out from his struggle with Jezebel and her prophets, is so depressed he asks God to end his life. God’s solution was for Elijah was to eat a good meal and go to bed, and expect to feel better in the morning.
Diet and Exercise: Honoring the Temple of God
Diet and exercise can also figure into our emotional and spiritual condition. The Bible tells us our body is “the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 6:19), and it is sad how badly many of us treat our bodies. I wonder how many of us would feel more spiritually alive and joyful if we exercised and ate foods that would help us and not harm us. Big doses of junk food can put us on a temporary high, but the long-term effect to our emotional and psychological health is less than positive.
Chemical Imbalance: Bio-Physical Contributions
Depression can also be brought on by chemical imbalances in the body. It is very difficult to think positively with a chemical imbalance. A person’s DNA can trigger chemical reactions that put them into a funk. For, women, bodily changes that accompany menopause can bring on extreme depression. Prayer is a powerful tool but escaping depression that is due to an imbalance is not probable. Those who try to dissuade Christians from getting medical help for clinical depression, claiming that faith alone is the cure, will only prolong a person’s struggle. In many cases, a severe depression that’s last more than a few days is biophysically based and needs medical attention. This is certainly true for anyone suffering from a bipolar condition. A psychiatrist is trained to diagnose both medical and mental causes of depression. To seek such treatment does not denote a lack of faith, but rather evidence of a willingness to take advantage of what God has made available to us through modern science.
Life Stressors: When Day to Day Challenges Become Too Much
Sometimes people are depressed simply because they are unfulfilled in their jobs. Jobs can dehumanize and cause a person to become drained and discouraged. Also, personal tragedies of one kind or another can drain the love out of life. Let me quickly add that in the midst of tragedy and loss, mourning is an inevitable and necessary thing as long as it doesn’t go on endlessly.
The Power of Confession: Starting the Healing Process
A good way to start the healing process is to confess to others that although you are a Christian you suffer from depressive feelings. Ask them to support you, pray for you, and help you get out of that bed and start doing things even when you feel blue. The important thing is to start coping with your depression and begin to move toward feeling healthy.
Consider Christian Counseling for Depression
Sometimes, what is most needed for someone who is battling depression is counseling from a professional Christian counselor. There are many strong Christians who have found good Christian counseling to be a godsend. Regardless of who you are there is fresh joy and contentment that is available. A Christian counselor will offer a compassionate heart, dependence on the Holy Spirit and an ability to apply Biblical principles. A professional Christian counselor will also help the client discover other factors that may be contributing to the client’s depression. To learn more about how Christian counseling can help you manage and overcome depression, please do not hesitate to contact me.
on is counseling from a professional Christian counselor. There are many strong Christians who have found good Christian counseling to be a godsend. Regardless of who you are there is fresh joy and contentment that is available. A Christian counselor will offer a compassionate heart, dependence on the Holy Spirit and an ability to apply Biblical principles. A professional Christian counselor will also help the client discover other factors that may be contributing to the client’s depression. To learn more about how Christian counseling can help you manage and overcome depression, please do not hesitate to contact me.
freedigitalphotos.net – “Portrait Of Sad Pretty Girl” by anankkml; “Depression” by Salvatore Vuono
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