Spring is here, finally!
I love springtime. The birds. The flowers. The blue sky. The Masters. The warmer weather and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.
Spring is also a marker of change in many people’s lives. It is an opportunity to get out of the doldrums and into more of an optimistic and forward-looking spirit.
However, the truth is that many people will find setting aside “the blues” and what is generally called depression, to be a difficult task. Often we hear of famous people, who seem to have so much to live for, detail their personal struggles with depression.
In the Christian community questions such as: “How should a Christian deal with depression? What does the Bible say about depression? Should a Christian ever be depressed? How can a Christian overcome depression?” are often pondered.
Depression is a complicated, multifaceted condition. Being depressed is not inherently sinful, though depression is certainly a result of the fall into sin.
As a result of human sin, God’s words in Genesis 3 indicate toil, striving unsuccessfully, desiring what you cannot have, working hard for little gain, living in frustration and at times wanting to throw in the towel.
To the person struggling with depression, those thoughts are most likely all too common.
Nevertheless, depression is not always caused by a particular sin, nor does it indicate a lack of faith. When depression strikes, the victim needs to make discovering the cause and treatment of the depression a priority.
Seeing a doctor for depression is no different than seeing a doctor for any injury or ongoing condition. Being depressed is not a sin, any more than having a broken arm or cancer is a sin, and should not be criticized as sin by the Christian community.
Yet, one is still accountable for their response to the condition and circumstance; sin could come about in knowing help is needed and refusing to seek it.
This is what we know: Millions of people, including Christians, suffer from depression every day. Depression has a strong genetic component. It can manifest as sadness, low energy, frustration and extended misery. Depression can be caused or worsened by alcohol and drug abuse, indulging in anger or self-centeredness and other self-destructive behaviors. Depression is driven by negative feelings, perceptions and thoughts.
Unbiblical beliefs about one’s identity, value and ability often contribute to depression. The Bible exhorts us to take thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), to concentrate on the truth of a situation and not a faulty perception (John 8:32), and to rely on God’s word rather than our feelings (Psalm 56:4). Ultimately, the Bible exhorts us to cast all our cares on God because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Christians understand that depression has both physical and spiritual elements. The person fighting depression needs the assistance of a trusted medical practitioner as well as the guidance of a spiritual adviser (pastor, Christian counselor, etc.). The spiritual guidance must be deeply rooted in Biblical truth, always affirming God’s word.
Remember, the person struggling with depression is struggling with the reality of the temporal (feeling a lack of hope or being weighed down by a sense of insignificance), and they are searching for lasting (eternal) significance. This is why when Jesus asked his followers, “Are you going to leave me too?”
Peter quickly replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Depression can be one of Satan’s tools to take Christians out of the work of the Kingdom. It can affect our view of God and sap our joy.
If you suspect that you are dealing with depression, I urge you to talk with a trusted person today and seek the assistance you might need. Treatment for depression can come from several fronts: medical intervention, lifestyle adjustments, confession of sin, spiritual counsel from trained, mature Christ-followers and ongoing community with wise, loving brothers and sisters in Christ.
Spring has sprung! Remind yourself today that when we trust in Jesus Christ, what is true about him is, because of him, true about us: “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Remind yourself today that, in Christ, God’s steadfast love never ceases, and his mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Our worth and value are not built upon what we can accomplish on our own, but on what Jesus has already accomplished on our behalf. May this be a new day full of excitement and anticipation for you.
The Rev. Tom Smiley is the senior pastor at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.