Depression afflicts thousands in varying degrees. Some depression is so severe it requires medical and psychological assistance to overcome as well as spiritual power. The Biblical principles outlined below will assist you in helping those who are depressed.
Depression Defined: Depression is a sense of despondency in which the present contains little joy, problems seem overwhelming, and the future offers little hope.
You are not alone in your feelings. Great men of faith, Biblical giants, have felt discouraged.
1. Look at David’s discouragement for example:
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; it grows old because of all my enemies.
For innumerable evils have surrounded me; my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me.
O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength, adrift among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, and who are cut off from Your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and You have afflicted me with all Your waves. You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out; my eye wastes away because of affliction. Lord, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. Will You work wonders for the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise You? Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? But to You I have cried out, O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. Lord, why do You cast off my soul? Why do You hid Your face from me? I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth; I suffer Your terrors; I am distraught. Your fierce wrath has gone over me; Your terrors have cut me off. They came around me all day long like water; they engulfed me altogether. Loved one and friend You have put far from me, and my acquaintances into darkness.
In his discouraging moments, David discovered the following principles for overcoming depression:
God does not forsake us in discouragement
I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
Trust and/or faith leads us to rejoice even in difficult times
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You had all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You. But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.
In the Lord I put my trust; how can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain?” For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. The Lord is their strength and He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
God uses trials and afflictions to draw us closer to Him. In every trial we hear a call to prayer
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.
Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
In trying moments, God is in complete control of my life
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
2. Praise and thanksgiving in depression is a key to deliverance from depression.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised.
In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day. My tongue also shall talk of Your righteousness all the day long; for they are confounded, for they are brought to shame who seek my hurt.
But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
3. God longs for us to turn to Him in depression. He delights in answering our prayers.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. You number my wanderings; put my tears into You bottle; are they not in Your book? In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
4. Unconfessed sin leads to guilt which may lead to depression. If you feel guilty because of some specific sin, follow the biblical counsel and declare your guilt to God and confess your sin.
For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
5. Pray the prayer of Psalm 51 and believe by faith God forgives you.
If you have a general or vague sense of guilt, fill your mind with the thought, “God loves me, accepts me, and receives me as His child.”
1 Timothy 2:3-6
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1 Peter 3:9
not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose. The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; the wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.
6. Depression may occur at times for physical reasons.
After his mighty triumph over the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah became so depressed he desired to die. (Remember this was the man God would translate without seeing death!) Tired, hungry, utterly fatigued by the strain of his stress-filled day, Elijah, under threats from Jezabel, gave in to gloomy, depressing thoughts. God’s answer to Elijah’s depression was found in a good night’s sleep, a hot meal and words of encouragement.
1 Kings 19:1-13
And Ahab told Jezabel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezabel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah? So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but he Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but he Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
7. While in prison in Rome, Paul discovered the following concepts as an antidote to discouragement:
A sense of God’s sovereignty
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel
The desire to magnify Christ in all things
according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
Prayer and thanksgiving in trial
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Rejoicing in trial
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
A sense that God was bigger than his problems and could supply all his needs
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And my God shall supply all your need according toHis riches in glory by Christ Jesus.