The Believer and Depression

Depression.

Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate) by Vincent van Gogh

Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity's Gate) by Vincent van Gogh

A scary word we often hear and often associate with negative connotations. Self-harm, sadness, and suicide are a few words that come to mind when depression is brought up. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition for depression is “a state of being sad.” As a student, if you got a bad grade on a test, paper, or other assignment? Depression. Your favorite sports team traded away the start performer? Depression. Your mother passed away from a very aggressive form of cancer? Depression. As a Christ follower, we are not immune to the devastating effects of depression. I am a Christ follower, and I struggle with depression.

Depression Is A Struggle For Christ Followers

Depression is not just a mental disease that nearly 121 million people in the world suffer from*. Depression can be Satan’s most painful and effective stumbling block for the believer. We all encounter depression in our lives. Christ tells us many times in His word to be joyful (see James 1:2, Philippians 4:4, 1 Thess. 5:16) but, if you’re like me, joy can be hard to come by sometimes. Life is hard: death, anger, anxiety, struggles with self worth, and losing battles to sin are still struggles for even the most mature of believers. As we battle the attacks of the devil through depression, as believers, we have hope that Christ has prevailed over the attacks of Satan. While hard to do, let us cling to these truths found throughout Scripture.

Christ Died for Our Depression

As previously stated, Scripture tells us to be joyful on many different occasions (see above). As believers, our view of the Bible should be this: it is the inerrant Word of God, thus making it the absolute authority for our lives.  Doing anything that goes against what God has commanded is considered sin. Thus if we are not joyful in Christ, we are committing sin against God. I am not downplaying that depression is a serious mental disease in some people, but we also must realize that because of our sin nature, we suffer from the effects of sin (death, disease, sickness, etc.).

The greatest news of all time is that despite our sinful nature, Christ humbled Himself, became man, and was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Christ died that we may no longer be bound to our sin. This means that Christ died for the depression we struggle with. Peter tells us “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) What great news! Christ suffered so that we may find joy and satisfaction in Him. We are not bound to the depression we feel because, as Christ followers, we are free from the bondage of sin. We are not defined by sin, but rather covered in the righteousness of Christ.

Christ Does Not Leave Us Because of Our Depression

If this is not the most comforting promise we find in Scripture, it is a close second. Depression can be a scary battle where you feel as though you are battling the struggle alone. There are moments where you throw your hands in the air and scream to the heavens “God, where are you?” While Christ was both fully God and fully man, this is one of the ways He differs from man. Christ will not only keep us around in our darkest hours, He INVITES us to come to Him in our darkest hours.

The negative connotations associate with depression, sadly, will scare people. It will scare them to the point where they will not provide the love and support we need because they “don’t know how to help.” Christian, if we are in Christ and battle depression, we must remember that Christ is all we need in this life. All of the attempts of man to provide joy fall flat, but the love of Jesus is an unconditional love that surpasses all understanding (Eph. 3:19; Jer. 31:3). Jesus’ love is so strong for His children that He tells us if we are burdened to come to Him and “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-30). In times of need, Christ calls us to Himself, that He may provide our joy.

Christ Is Coming Back and We Will Be Free of Our Depression

If the last point was not the most comforting, this one must be. There is coming a day where we will be freed from our sin. There is coming a day where we will no longer struggle with depression.  The greatest joy we can take into every day is that Christ is coming for His Church and He is coming soon. Our sanctification will be complete and we will forever be with our perfect King. All of Revelation 21 is a wonderful narrative of the end times, but in verse 4, John tells us, “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.” Take heart, Christian, our Savior is coming!

 

As believers, we are still human. We struggle with sadness, we struggle with pain, and we struggle, in general, with sin. And that’s OK. We cannot be perfect, and we are not expected to be perfect. Christ was perfect in our place. For the Christian struggling with depression, battle Satan’s attacks with the truths of Scripture. If we are in Christ, we have a Savior who loves with an unconditional love, and who is interceding on our behalf at the right hand of the Father. Let us find our joy in the finished work of Christ and the promise of His return for His children. If you are a believer and do not struggle with depression, my prayer is that you still find joy in these truths. Christ does not run from the depressed, He runs to them. As believers, we must do the same.

              

 *Statistic found at http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic