Depression can be absolutely debilitating and can affect everyone within reach. From the outside it’s hard to understand the deep emotional struggles and sorrow that one goes through in the midst of depression. All hope appears to be lost. The darkness seems to drown out any “light at the end of the tunnel”. Ministering to someone with depression can be just as difficult. What do you say? There are all kinds of methods and approaches, self-help books and medicines. One could take a firm “Just suck it up and be happy!” or try to accept that “This is just the way he/she is.” Depression is not absent from Scripture. Many godly men and women are acquainted with deep sorrow. Jeremiah was a “man of sorrows”. Elijah suffered a season of depression and David was no stranger to it. I don’t believe depression is unbiblical. How we deal with it, however, is where we can sin. The same is true for any emotion. If you think about Paul’s words to the Ephesians, he says, “Be angry and yet do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). So the emotion of anger is not the focus but how we respond to it is. I don’t believe there are any anti-depression sprays that we can use. There will be seasons that come upon us even as Scripture says (1 Peter 1:6). I do not promise that these steps are a cure all to depression or that they in any way guarantee “sunshine on your shoulders”. These are, however, Scriptural responses from David to fight off sinful responses to depression.
Depression acts as a reminder that we are in deep need of Jesus. In the midst of depression our minds begin to make lists. These lists aren’t so much pros and cons as they are just cons. Our focus turns inward to ourselves and our situation. It is not a bad thing to come to the reality that there is something wrong with us and our world. However, if you never take your focus off of yourself it will kill you. The Law instructs us in how bad we truly are. Paul wouldn’t know sin without the Law. Paul learned the intention of the Law. It wasn’t just to kill us and leave us without hope. It was meant to point us to our deep need for Christ (Gal. 3:24). When we are in depression, it becomes easy for us to point out our faults and the faults in others. So when we see that we “can’t do it” this isn’t a call for us to get stronger, happier, better, or more depressed it’s a call for us to look to the One who has done “it” and finished “it” at the cross. Depression is a reminder to turn your eyes upon Jesus.
In Psalm 43 David is in the midst of a season of depression. He points out how he perceives things to be in verse 2. To him, it appears that God has rejected him and the world is against him. I’m sure some of us can say that we’ve experienced similar sentiments. From this point though, David says in verse 4, “I will go to the altar of God.” He knows that in the midst of this season he needs to go to his God. David doesn’t go just anywhere but he runs to the “altar of God.” It is at the altar of God where the sacrifice for sin is made. David reminds himself of the gospel. He sees that this isn’t a moment for self-pity but a moment for self-preaching. He goes to the place where his sin has been paid for and it is in this place that he preaches truth to his soul. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The Help of my countenance and my God” (vs. 5). David speaks the truth that there is hope in God in the midst of this sorrow and that his help is not found in his own strength but in Almighty God.
David not only preaches truth until his depressed soul will hear it but he also chooses to sing songs of truth to reinforce these words. In verse 4 David shares, “And upon the lyre I shall praise Thee, O God, my God.” There are many songs that have been written out of times of darkness and sorrow. Singing is a reaction of our soul in all seasons. We can be drawn to songs that we can relate to but we must choose to sing songs of truth during these times. We are easily influenced by music and God knows this. He encourages us to sing songs that are soaked with His truth so that we may be guided through any and all situations. David makes a tough decision to sing but in looking to God’s truth he finds all reason to sing.
Finally, trust the Lord. Micah declares, “Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.” Despite depression God is still God. Know that however lost your case may appear there is still hope and however dark your days may become there is still light in Him. He knows (Jer. 15:15), sympathizes (Heb. 4:25), and leads (Ps. 23) to your good and glory (Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17). Use your depression as a reminder to bring you to God “your exceeding joy” and “hope” (Ps. 43:4-5).
Finding Hope In God, Pastor Rudy