ADMITTING TO DEPRESSION
You are my hiding place. You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
The word depression in the Bible
Admissions of depression using the exact word are rare in the Bible. If you are looking for specific passages in the Bible that mention that so-and-so was depressed, you are not going to find them. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t prevalent.
Nowhere does the Bible say, for example, that Moses suffered from depression. But did men and women in the Bible show symptoms that today would result in such a diagnosis? Yes. Let’s look at some other examples first.
Some extra-biblical examples.
How about Abraham Lincoln? He suffered what he described as severe melancholy. Letters from his friends stated he was the most depressed person they’d ever seen.
Winston Churchill used writing and painting to keep the “black dog of depression at bay.”
Martin Luther King Jr. suffered as well. It is not well known, but Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to commit suicide twice before the age of thirteen. It has also been reported that his staff tried to get him psychiatric treatment shortly before he was assassinated.
For more modern-day examples, there is Katy Perry, who quite recently shared her struggles with depression.
Lady Gaga has been open about it, as have Kristen Bell and Bruce Springsteen.
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson revealed his depression recently. Being famous and rich doesn’t protect anyone from the ravages of this illness. The one thing these examples all have in common is they were honest about how they were feeling.
Now let’s look at those examples from scripture. Their symptoms could be a dip in their emotional or mental state, or they could reflect long-term illness’: Moses (Numbers 11:14), Hannah (1 Samuel 1:7, 16), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–18), and of course, David and others. Martin Lloyd-Jones, who wrote the classic book Spiritual Depression, even suggests that Timothy suffered from nearly paralyzing anxiety.
You may say, “Yes, but these people weren’t like the rest of us. They were heroes.”
Well, they weren’t heroes until they became heroes, right? They probably battled their depression and other mental disorders long before their recorded stories.
Depression and spirituality
The other danger lies in how we might perceive our spirituality.
We will try to find the cause by scrutinizing our relationship with God and coming to the false belief that our depression or anxiety results from a spiritual problem. This makes us feel guilty and draws us away from God. Satan loves it when Christians feel this way. It’s fertile ground for him.
Draw near to God
If ever there was a time to draw near to God, it’s when we’re battling this illness. While depression can have serious consequences in our spiritual lives, it is not necessarily caused by problems in our spiritual lives.
The more Christians are honest about their depression and anxiety, the more likely some of the stigma will be removed. However, for now, there are still very few people who don’t feel embarrassed and ashamed when acknowledging their struggles. I stand amazed that in this day and age when we know so much about mental issues, many are still reluctant to admit it and get help.
Being honest is important in depression
While writing this book, I, too, worried, “What will people think of me? Will they question my spirituality?” It helped knowing I’m in good company with King David, who wrote, “I waited for the LORD: He inclined to me and heard my cry … He drew me out of the miry blog and set my feet upon a rock, making my step secure” (Psalm 40:1–3). Is that not a description of depression?
Use a Psalm to express depression
Read the psalms because they often express despair, discouragement, anxiety, and depression. They can become our prayer when we can’t find the words.
You are not alone
You are not alone. Many have been here before; many are here now. But God is faithful if you reach out your hand to Him.
Questions to consider honestly.
Can you admit to depression?
Can you trust God to deliver you just like He has others?