Depression and the Bible

Not Immune

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Christians are/should be constantly happy. After all, we have it all don’t we? A faith, a hope, a purpose.  The black dog should be walking right past us right? I can tell you it doesn’t. It can be really hard to suffer under a black cloud when we know just how blessed we are.

Depression doesn’t ever make sense.

What faith can give us though, is companions to walk under that cloud with. Whether that be fellow people of faith from our community, or Bible characters, God has ensured we will never be alone in our suffering. 

The Bible doesn’t use the word depression as such. We get words such as brokenhearted, troubled, despairing. Throughout the Bible there are countless stories of people of faith battling through dark times.

The Bible shows us there is hope.

A Kingly Burden

King David, a man after God’s own heart is the perfect example. His Psalms are full of despair and fear. It can be quite hard to read them, we are seeing right into David’s ‘soul’ as he cries out to God in his suffering.

I am weary with my groaning: all night I make my bed swim: I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief

Psalm 6 v 6, 7

Depression is all encompassing at it’s worst and makes even getting out of bed seem not worth doing. Life can seem very grey, everything is against us. In Psalm 13 we can see this very clearly. David despairs that God has forgotten him, his enemy is exalted over him and David fears that he will ‘sleep the sleep of death’.

Anyone who suffers from depression will recognise that sleep gives the only reprieve from feelings of despair, and yet, in the midst of a depressive state, even sleep is frustratingly elusive. No-one wants to feel so low and without hope. David goes on in this particular Psalm to find hope IN God. 

But I have trusted in your mercy: my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me

Psalm 13 v 5, 6

A Saviour’s Suffering

Whilst suffering with depression, everything in the world is awful. The hurts of others become so personal to us. The suffering we see on the news personally affects us. It makes me wonder if Christ ever suffered for the hurts of others. That seems a ridiculous thing to wonder about given that he died for the suffering of the world.

I just wonder what his life on earth was like when he had the ability to see the heart of others. How it must have pained him to see the true motivations of those around him. He chastised the Pharisees countless times for the burdens they placed on ordinary people and the way they used God’s laws to their gain. 

He wept over Jerusalem, he wept when his friend Lazarus died. He lived a life burdened with the role he must play in God’s plan for mankind, and then wept in the garden of Gethsemane as he finally prepared himself for the agonising outworking of that plan.

My soul is exceedingly sorrowful even to death.

Mark 14 v 34

Jesus had the sins of the whole world on his shoulders, it’s no wonder he struggled. However, the rest of the passage shows us how he combated those feelings that threatened to overwhelm him. The verses following tell us that Christ went and spent time with his father in prayer. He did this three times.

Christ didn’t find himself immediately strengthened for the task ahead with one prayer. It took time, and even on the cross he still battled with what was required of him. How true it is that our saviour can sympathise with all our weaknesses! (Hebrews 4 v 15)

Clouds Lifting

I have only picked out two examples from the Bible, but I urge you to do your own investigation. There is, if not comfort and relief, companionship to be found in the words of scripture.

You are not alone in feeling not OK.

One thing all those suffering had in common was that God was near to them and did not leave them. Their depression and sadness may have led them to believe they were forsaken, but God never leaves us.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all

Psalm 34 v 18, 19

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