All too often I hear of people experiencing depression. Depression is a debilitating affliction and it causes people to feel like there is no purpose to life. I experienced a bit of this at various points in my life before I was saved by Jesus Christ. I did not experience clinical depression, but I felt it at times and saw it first-hand in people around me to understand just how its effects can be heart-wrenching and crippling to the human life. When one suffers from depression, he or she wonders, why am I alive? What is the point? Why even do groceries, garden, or anything at all? There is no joy, no purpose, no fulfillment…only a dark black void with seemingly no escape. A feeling of despair within one’s soul. Everything feels numb and it is difficult to enjoy life or feel appreciation for anything. Some people have such severe depression that they take their own lives, a grave mistake because there is no rest after death for those who do not trust in Christ.
This pondering of what is the purpose to life is part of my testimony, because these questions about my existence led me to the one true God. I needed to know why I was here, breathing and living.
Now that I have been saved by the blood of the Lamb, I have a perspective on depression that I believe doctors are missing and they will never get, because they focus on simply the physical and psychological and nothing more. But they are sorely mistaken, because there is so much more. In fact, doctors only treat the mere surface of something so much deeper that only God can cure. What is more than the physical or the psychological?
People get depressed because they do not feel there is purpose to life. They feel alone, they feel joyless, they feel like there is no point so why even try. The reason people feel these things is because they do not have a reconciled relationship with their Creator. This is, and will always be, the root cause of deep unending severe depression. They are a living being that has been created by God, yet they are trying to live their life completely set apart from Him. It isn’t going to happen, and there is absolutely no cure for depression except that they surrender their life to Jesus Christ, trusting in Him and being born-again.
Once this happens, your loneliness dissipates. You have a purpose in your existence you never knew before. You experience a love that fills your heart and soul, whereas before you trusted in Him, all you knew is brokenness and rejection. You feel accepted, loved, cared for for the first time in your life. It doesn’t mean you weren’t feeling loved before or were devoid of it, but no love on this earth between humans can compare to the love and closeness of God Himself. Nothing.
Humans can only love with broken love because humans are all broken, imperfect people. When you are made a child of God, you are perfectly loved by a perfect God and He fills every single void you have in your heart and spirit. It is incredible what happens when you become a child of God.
Reading this truth for children of God, one can’t help but be filled with joy as they set their heart on these spiritual truths from above. For those who inherit salvation, depression vanishes as you start a new life as a child of God. You realize that your time on earth is short, and you are destined for Heaven for all eternity. Things on this earth no longer matter, so your depression lifts. When someone is depressed, it’s because the things in this physical realm matter too much and things of this world were never supposed to take precedence over God in our lives. You realize that you have abundant purpose. That this beautiful, glorious God created you, your personality, your eyes, your nose, every detail of your body inside and out. You realize that God has loved you before you were ever conceived in your mother’s womb, that you are not a mistake and you didn’t appear here by random chance, and He has set out to save you in an extravagant way by enduring torture and dying on the cross for you, shedding his blood for you.
When you realize these very special truths, your heart lights up and depression is gone. Because you are filled. You are filled with the presence of God by His Holy Spirit.
It doesn’t mean that a born-again believer will not walk through rough times: dry times, testing times, disparaging times, or even bouts or seasons of depression. Even the people of God in scripture went through times of depression, including a man after God’s own heart, King David Himself. But that depression is a different kind of depression, and is not lasting and only for a season as God works in your life.
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42)
This Psalm written by David speaks multitudes regarding depression and how to handle it for a believer. David was so obviously depressed in this Psalm, as he writes, “my tears have been my meat day and night”. As we can see, David was not immune to times of depression either, but his own resolution is what we are to do with that depression. As we read on in Psalm 42, we can see how this man after God’s own heart deals with his hopelessness and sadness: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
As King David teaches us, there is nothing wrong with crying and feeling depressed or times of despair and hopelessness. They will come. Even for a child of God. And we must walk through it, no matter the difficulty. What God puts in our path or allows in our life is always to grow us, refine us, teach us, sanctify us, and prepare us for glory.
By personal experience, I can notice my own feelings and times I may feel sad or hopeless in a moment or in a season in my walk with God, and they are always times when I am most distant from Him. Of course, if you are born-again, you are never distant from Him but sometimes He may make Himself “seem” distant in order to teach us what David learned, and that is to set our eyes on Him, continue to have faith in Him, and hope in Him during these stormy seasons. As we seek Him and set our hearts on things above, our depression lifts. When we focus on things of the earth, we are bound to get depressed, sad, or feel despair because there is no hope on this earth but only in God alone. David was depressed because he was focused on his earthly trials and the mountains he had to face. The moment he set his eyes on God in heaven, hope and encouragement filled his heart. This is true for all believers.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
God does put His children through the fire of testing, that we may be refined and sanctified. It hurts during the process, but the outcome is so precious in God’s eyes. He burns away things that are not meant to stay, and what’s revealed is true fruit. I’ve experienced this in my walk with God.
Who (believers) are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1: 5-9)
There can be much superficial advice regarding depression that may work for a moment, but if you do not have a reconciled relationship with God, depression will always come back and will never leave, nor will your suffering be used for your ultimate good – truths that believers can hold onto.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28).