Summary: God is bigger and stronger than any depression you may be feeling.
How God Helps You Overcome Depression
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation
(Psalms 42:5 ESV)
In everyday language "depression" refers to any downturn in mood, which may be relatively transitory and perhaps due to something trivial. This is differentiated from clinical depression which is marked by symptoms that last two weeks or more and are so severe that they interfere with daily living. A mental state of a depressed mood is characterized by feelings of sadness, despair and discouragement.
Many people in the Bible suffered through depression. Naomi, Job, Jeremiah, and even Jesus encountered times of depression. Some of the most famous Christian ministers encountered times of depression. Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, John Knox, John Bunyan, Lottie Moon, and even Rick Warren have mentioned specific times in their ministries when they encountered depression.
While some Christians will want to deny that they can go through depression, it does happen. And it happens quite often. Since this can be the case, I want to share with you steps that contribute to depression and then steps that you can take to help yourself when you get depressed.
Going through depression is a little like walking down a staircase into a hole. When a person walks down each step in a staircase, it brings them lower and lower. Many times we don’t realize that we have walked down the staircase of depression until it starts to affect us in physical ways. Even then, it may be hard to understand what is going on.
Here are some steps that take us down to depression:
STEP DOWN #1 - Difficult changes in life
The author of this psalm was most likely David. The psalm was written when David was driven out of Jerusalem to the Jordan river. He was run out of Jerusalem during a rebellion. His son Absalom tried to take his throne. This was a difficult change in King David’s life.
In the same way, many of us have had times in our lives when life seems to be changing so fast. You get married, you move, you change jobs. You try to adapt to the changes and sometimes it is very hard. This can cause you to step down a bit.
STEP DOWN #2 - Someone’s negative words
Needless to say, David is going through a difficult time in his life. He is also hearing a few people who are making accusations against him.
I say to God, my rock: "Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?"
(Psalms 42:9-10 ESV)
Perhaps you know people who taunt you, or speak only negative words against you. If you are feeling like you are depressed, you may be listening to the oppression of other people. Some people can really be insulting, and unhelpful to you. These words add to the feeling of depression.
STEP DOWN #3 - My own emotional insecurities
The psalm starts with the statement:
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
(Psalms 42:2 ESV)
As you read through this psalm, and even in many other psalms, you find that King David is quite emotionally insecure. He admits that he is not strong enough to handle the challenges that come his way. Some of his most famous psalms are expression of his emotional insecurities.
First, you can notice that this person is apparently exhausted. The psalmist is so tired and worn out that he is thirsty.
Second, you can notice that this person has other emotional insecurities.
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me continually, "Where is your God?"
(Psalms 42:3 ESV)
This is a poetic way of saying that his emotions are getting out of control. Sometimes, you feel the effects of depression, you feel so alone. This loneliness causes you to just simply weep. Sometimes you can’t control it. You just start to weep. Many times the source of this weeping is related to the first step down. You have encountered so much stress that the only release that helps is to just cry.
I remember when I conducted my first funeral. It was very overwhelming. Watching a funeral is one thing. Being related to the deceased is another. And it is still another unique exprience to pastor and lead a funeral.
The funeral was for a man in the church I pastored. I was asked to officiate with another pastor over this funeral. I was asked to prepare the eulogy. I remember that all was fine until an hour before the funeral. I visited with the family one last time, and made corrections to my text. At the end we prayed, then the family left. I was so overcome with emotion that I began to weep.