Do Christians Get
Sonya C. Triggs
What does the Bible say about depression? Is
it okay to be a Christian and still get depressed? And what exactly
is depression, anyway?
First, what exactly is depression?
WebMD defines it as ‘A clinical mood disorder associated with low
mood or loss of interest and other symptoms that prevent a person
from leading a normal life.’ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate
Dictionary has an even more eye-opening definition: ‘a
psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness,
inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant
increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings
of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies’.
And if that doesn’t make it clear, I don’t know what does!
So, do Christians get depressed? The short answer to that is –
Yes. The Bible is filled with a lot of people who got depressed! The prophet Elijah
experienced his own depression very shortly after experiencing a
major victory with God. Elijah held a competition – himself against
450 prophets of Baal! – to prove the might of God. After a lot of
storm and drama, God proved Himself to be the Only True God and
Elijah experienced a major personal victory. The queen at the time
-Jezebel - was very unhappy about this and threatened Elijah’s life.
Elijah became frightened and ran for his life. After coming to
the end of his (physical) rope (in the wilderness), he stopped and
started to feel very badly for himself. 1 Kings 19:4 says Elijah,
‘….begged for his life, that he might die. And he said, It is
enough, O LORD, take away my life. For I am no better than my
fathers.’ (MKJV). Elijah was definitely depressed (the entire story
can be read in 1 Kings 19:1-18).
Even one of Israelite’s Great
Deliverers, Joshua the Son of Nun, experienced a down time. Joshua
had led the Israelites to a resounding victory against Jericho. The
Israelites then went to war against Ai and experienced a bitter
defeat. Joshua 7:6-7 says ‘And Joshua tore his clothes and fell to
the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide,
he and the elders of Israel, and put dust on their heads. And
Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, why have You at all brought this
people over Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites, to
destroy us? And, oh that we had been content and lived on the other
side of Jordan!’ (MKJV). Joshua was a very unhappy man.
What I find most interesting about
these situations, however, is how God responded to Elijah and
Joshua. God sent an angel to minister to Elijah after he’d
stopped in the wilderness, who provided him with food encouraged him
to eat and drink. Elijah then took a 40-day journey to Mt. Horeb
where God Himself spoke to him. God asked Elijah ‘What are you
doing here, Elijah?’ (1 Kings 19:9 MKJV) and Elijah has this pity
party where he tells God how he had been zealous for Him and Elijah was now
the only prophet left and how they were trying to kill him! God gave
Elijah instructions to carry out and then promptly informed him, ‘Yet I
have left seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not
bowed to Baal...’(1 Kings 19:18 MKJV). In other words, that Elijah
had no business being depressed because he was not, in fact, the
only prophet of God left. He also got the opportunity to speak to
God one-on-one, as God passed by him and spoke to him in a still,
God had a different response for
Joshua. Joshua 7:10 says, ‘And the LORD said to Joshua, Get up!
Why do you lie on your face this way?’ (MKJV). God explained to
Joshua that the Israelites had been defeated because they had sinned
against Him. But that now, it was time to Get Up!, fix
the problem and return to their warfare against the people of Ai.
What is reassuring about both of
these situations is not only the fact that God heard Elijah’s and
Joshua’s cries to Him, but that He responded. He
met them right where they were and gave them hope and instructions
for how to carry on. He didn’t leave them in the middle of
their hopelessness –
He took control and gave them a renewed sense of purpose and
So, do Christians get depressed?
Sure – but they don’t usually stay depressed. One thing is for
certain – Christians will encounter many situations which will
challenge their optimism. Jesus himself promised us ‘ …In the world
you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer.’ (John 16:33
(MKJV). And why should we be of good cheer? Because
Jesus also reminded us that ‘I have overcome the world’. In
other words, there is no need for us to remain down or out (or even
surprised by the frequency of our troubles), because Jesus has
already solved any problems we will encounter. Yes, God does
hear your cry when you
are depressed, and will comfort and minister to you (as well as give
you guidance), but, ultimately, our victory happened right there on
Calvary when Jesus died on the cross for us. We can rest assured
knowing that we will eventually come to a place where all
trials and tribulations will be over, all tears will be wiped
away and we will have eternal rest and peace with our Father.
that’s why we must recapture our joy when we're down and make a serious effort to
remain in good spirits at all other times.
So what should you do if you find
yourself in the throes of depression? Paul lays it out for us in
Philippians 4:4-13. First, he tells us to let God know about our
worries - through prayer and supplication. To make our requests
known to God – with our thanks (for hearing, for responding, for
whatever we can think of!). And then he promises us that peace will be ours. And to maintain that peace, he tells us to think on good
things! Good things only. He says ‘….whatsoever things are
things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things
[are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report, if [there be]
any praise, think on these things.’ (KJV - emphasis
This doesn’t mean you have to adopt
a Pollyana view of the world – that nothing bad is going on or that you don’t have a good reason to be down. Instead, it
means that you CHOOSE to maintain a positive attitude, knowing that
God has it all under control. It means that you CHOOSE to let God
deal with it instead of wrestling around with it in your own mind.
And, finally it means you CHOOSE to believe God instead of all the
rotten things that are going on around you. Paul last of all
reminds us that we can do all things because Jesus strengthens us.
So, it’s not a matter of relying on your own strength, but on the
strength of the Almighty.
And He will never let you down.
So, don’t worry if you get
depressed (occasionally) - just try your best not to stay
depressed. Remember that God hears your prayers (and will respond)
and that His peace will keep you through it all – if you let Him.
So think good thoughts, turn your cares over to Him and choose
to believe in God’s word instead of the world.
You will be blessed!