Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
- DOES GOD SEND DEPRESSION?
- IS DEPRESSION GOD’S DISCIPLINE?
- WHAT DEPRESSION IS NOT
- DEPRESSION IS MORE THAN SADNESS
- Judas, an example
DOES GOD SEND DEPRESSION?
So, does God send depression or not?
Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?…. Neither this man nor his parents have sinned.
(These are chapters two and three of my book.)
If we believe in God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, we also have to believe that God could prevent our depression, no matter what caused it. And yet many Christians struggle with depression. It is not a lack of faith. It’s because we live in a fallen world and are as subject to its trials, difficulties, and depression as anyone else.
Our chemistry is complex.
Our lives are complex.
Our history is complex.
some things are hard to understand
God could change all the bad things that happen to us; this is true. The fact that He doesn’t is also true. Countless authors have tried to explain this. It’s the leading reason many people refuse to embrace any kind of faith. I certainly won’t try to answer the subject of suffering and pain. But if you want a biblical account of someone who did challenge God about these issues and how God responded, read Job 38–41 and the short book of Habakkuk.
And frankly, I understand it. I understand the confusion. I honestly do get why some people have a hard time believing in a loving God when so much evil prevails. But I also know that:
“when in my deepest pit, I felt God’s loving arms preventing me from making an eternal mistake for what was a temporary condition. I don’t know what else to say.”
Do I believe God sent all my depressive episodes? No. But some? Quite possibly. There might be those rare times when God uses depression to discipline us. But it is meant to stretch us, grow us, and reveal to us the areas of our lives that may need some scrutiny. We could call those times spiritual depressions. (Spiritual depression is discussed later.) The symptoms are much the same and often overlap. It can be difficult to distinguish one from the other, but there are differences.
Any depression, no matter the trigger, can certainly cause us to question the basic tenets of our faith. It’s hard to read our Bibles and pray when we feel so disconnected from God and ourselves. We don’t even know what to pray about.rig
IS DEPRESSION GOD’S DISCIPLINE?
So, yes, it is biblical that God may well discipline us—sometimes through depression. But that kind of discipline generally occurs because we have knowingly engaged in activities that have not been stamped with God’s approval and are a result of disobedience.
God’s discipline, however, should not lead to clinical depression if handled correctly. If it does, there are probably other issues at play. I think Jonah, for example, had some other issues, like pride, going on when God disciplined him. Like Jonah, we can accept God’s discipline and go on from there or sweat it out under the hot sun with no shade.
Sometimes that’s an excuse
But then other people want to believe that God is always behind their depression. That makes some sort of convoluted sense. After all, if they can blame God for their depression, they don’t have to accept any responsibility for it, do they? It’s all on Him. After all, if God sent it, He could just take it away. So, they claim martyrdom rather than do any work to get better.
Charles Spurgeon suffered from depression but never blamed God. He dealt with it when it flared up and kept right on preaching, teaching, and writing. God always wants us to win our battles. If we find ourselves in this battle of depression, God will hold up our hands until our battle is over, just as Aaron and Hur did with Moses as told in Exodus 17:12. I often feel God does that for me.
Defeat will never come from God’s hands, but it might come from our own.Tweet
questions to ask ourselves
Have you ever wondered if God sent your depression?
Have you ever blamed God for your depression?
WHAT DEPRESSION IS NOT
You, O, Lord keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
People throw the word depression around carelessly these days, calling fleeting uncomfortable emotions caused by temporary situations, depression. “I’m so depressed because …” As soon as the situation improves, so does their depression. That’s not clinical depression; that’s the ordinary fallout of some discouraging days. Word choice is important when defining emotional or mental conditions.
Depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a serious mood disorder. To be diagnosed with depression, a majority of defined symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. While more and more people are being diagnosed with depression, many more sufferers remain silent.
DEPRESSION IS MORE THAN SADNESS
Depression is more than just sadness—although it may certainly include feelings of sadness. It is a profound sense of sadness where you feel hopeless and discouraged about pretty much everything. You don’t see the faintest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Not even a tiny little ember. It feels dark and sad and lonely. Depressed people are unable to experience joy. It completely eludes them. Joy is a distant memory.
A depressed person can be depressed independent of a situation. This is true for many people because our circumstances rarely cause depression, yet it’s still hard to understand why someone who seems to have it all can become depressed.
When we’re only sad, we can still enjoy a good TV show or movie, or a book, or friends. These activities take our minds off our sadness. With depression, we can’t concentrate on a show or a book, and we don’t want anyone around. Sadness doesn’t generally affect our eating or sleeping habits—depression does.
affects every part of our lives
Clinical depression impacts every part of a person’s life. True clinical depression is a whole-body illness. More and more research proves that depression can make us physically unwell. It is now believed that our gut health and inflammation have a lot to do with our mental health, possibly even being a cause for some people. Much of our serotonin is produced in our gut. What a relief to know that it might not all be in our heads.
depression always has a price.
In the Gospels, we read about Peter and Judas. Both betrayed Jesus, but only one killed himself. The following is only my theory, but I think you will get my logic. Peter was like that person we all know who is rambunctious and loud but endearing at the same time. Know what I mean? I get the sense he drew people to him. But Judas? I see him as a loner.
After Peter betrayed Jesus, I think he might have told the other disciples what he had done. They probably chastised him, but they overlooked it because they had come to expect his brash behavior (the disciples still didn’t believe that Jesus would die anyway). What Peter did was horrific, but he and the disciples probably did not see it as a permanent mistake. I think Peter probably felt some relief after talking with them.
Judas, an example
Not so with Judas. Judas, while he did try to give back his dirty money was told, “Too late.” I believe Judas, probably always skirting depression anyway, now experienced its hallmark symptoms, helplessness and hopelessness. Going back to my theory that he was probably a loner without someone to talk to, he felt lost. He took the only action he could think of.
Two different men. Two different betrayals. Two very big sins. One survived and went on to become a pillar of the New Testament church; the other hung himself. Judas’s legacy? The world would always remember him as a traitor, his name always spoken with contempt.
questions to ask ourselves
What price are you paying for your depression?
Wouldn’t you like to pay less?
God bless and have a good day.