By Joe Jewell
Depression rates have climbed over the years and that’s not news, but I have found in my own experience that depression will come and go at times without cause, other times there are more obvious ones. I want to be careful as I know many amazing people who suffer from clinical depression and that’s real. I believe for some, healing or freedom is found in God’s grace through Medical care and Prescriptions, please hear that. But for some, there is an unknown cause and when we look at scripture the good news is we don’t need to pinpoint every cause of depression to find hope and joy.
Psychologist/Writer Ed Welch calls this the “mystery of suffering.” We may never fully know the cause of our depression or suffering. Welch goes on to say, Instead of teaching us how to identify the causes of suffering, Scripture directs us to the God who knows all things and is fully trustworthy. In other words, Scripture doesn’t give us knowledge so that we will have intellectual mastery of certain events; it gives us knowledge so that we would know and trust God. “God, I don’t know what you are doing, but you do, and that is enough.” Somehow, turning to God and trusting him with the mysteries of suffering is the answer to the problem of suffering.
Therefore, depression gives us the opportunity, like the Psalmist, to ask, “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.” In other words, “Heart why are you so depressed? Put your hope in God! What are you trusting over God right now?” (Psalm 42)
Question your heart
The Psalmist gives us one of the most important weapons against depression: speaking truth back to it. When the voice in your head is stuck on repeat and all you hear is;
“No one cares”
“I’ll never make it”
“Life will never get better”
“I’m a failure”
Do you recognize the voice? When that message is on repeat the Psalmist teaches us to speak back at it with a more authoritative message. With God’s love. This means identifying what you’re hoping in that isn’t God – people, places or ideas – then asking God to bend my worship back to Him. Hope is not magic or a pill you can pop. Hope takes practice and so reciting a psalm or finding a song that reflects scripture has been the most beneficial practice for me.
If you wait around until you feel ready to worship amidst depression, you’ll be waiting a long time. Worship is what breaks through the darkness and produces a light of hope. Worshipblurs the lines of your negative thinking and makes clear who your God really is. The goal of biblical worship is to set God on the throne of our lives, giving him the glory he deserves. That’s why if you are suffering from depression right now, then now is the best time to begin dethroning depression with worship. On days when coming out of bed feels more like a victory than routine, reminding your heart of who God is and how much cares for you might be what keeps the clouds from overshadowing your day. Allowing God to show you who is really ruling and reigning in your life. One thing I’ve discovered when facing depression is, it turns my trust internally, convincing me that I have the answers and my greatest fears will come true, but worship bends my trust back vertically and heavenward.
We don’t serve a God who is distant and out of touch with our pain and suffering. Jesus chose before the earth was formed to enter into our suffering. So when scripture says Jesus understands your pain we can know he really does. With that said, sometimes we can think, “well but he’s God and I’m not.” We forget that yes, Jesus is God but he chose to experience life as a human. Therefore, Jesus experienced human things while living the life that we could not, sinless. What I hope you hear is this, Jesus knows your suffering, he has felt your suffering. Jesus is also the one we look too for freedom from our suffering.
In his book “Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression,” authorZack Eswine says this about Charles Spurgeon life long battle with Depression, Christians are used to being students of the Cross. But Charles invites sufferers to find our Savior’s help in the garden of Gethsemane. This “garden of sorrow” becomes for Charles a picture of the “mental depression” of Jesus. “Bodily pain should help us to understand the cross,” Charles says, but “mental depression should make us apt scholars at Gethsemane.” “The sympathy of Jesus is the next most precious thing to his sacrifice.” Caregivers do well here to take notice. So, when the New Testament book of Hebrews says that Jesus is “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are” and “because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Heb. 4:15; 2:18), Charles readily applies this sympathy of Jesus to include not only our physical weakness but also our “mental depression.
Depression may speak aloud and convincing message but the gospel is the only message with the authority to say “I will give you life.” We have an ally or hero in Jesus, a companion in our mental harassment.
God’s end-goal for all of us who follow him is that at the end we can say, through it all my joy is complete and God’s grace was always sufficient for whatever I faced in this life.