About 20-percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. This is an amazing stat. One out of every five in this age bracket experience deep, nearly suffocating darkness.
Adults do too. My lovely wife has been living with depression for years now, and, even as a pastor, I find myself going through short bouts of depression as well. We’ve all been touched by this in some way, and even if we’re not “clinically depressed,” we all go through times of stress, anxiety, worry, or discouragement.
Charles Spurgeon, who dealt with “melancholy” himself, wrote: “The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.”¹
David, of course, dealt with deep discouragement:
Psalm 13:2: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
He writes in Ps. 88:1-5: “I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.”
If you’re dealing with depression, I’ll absolutely encourage you to talk with a doctor. I’ll ask you to consider your eating sleeping habits, get regular exercise.
But it can’t stop there.
If we stop there, at just the “physical stuff,” simply trying to fix your mood, the steps you can do to make yourself feel better — yes, you may have solved the physical stuff, but the Bible actually calls us to much more.
You can make yourself happy for a moment, but what about the rest of your life? What about eternity? In order to find true peace, true joy, true satisfaction, true contentment, we must look at God, at who He is, and what He’s done. Those enduring depression need a firm foundation that never changes, and that’s Yahweh.
Please note, friend, that we also live in a sin-cursed world, and no amount of medication can fix that. Only God can solve sin, and He does that through His Son.
Believe it or not, our merciful God understands deep despair:
Ps. 38:9: “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”
In Matt. 26:38, Jesus groaned: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Scripture is abundantly clear that the God of the Bible is the answer for the man, woman, or teen struggling with depression. Not simply medication. Not yoga, not “positive thinking” or “self-esteem.” The answer is God-esteem.
Ps. 43:5: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
He created you, therefore he owns the rights to you, knows what you need, and will provide it for you. He knows the wisest way for you to live in this world and knows the wisest things to give you — even depression! He’s also always looking out for your best interests.
I’ve heard it said (though I can’t remember where) that if you only knew these three attributes of God, you would be set for the rest of your life. Whoever said it is absolutely right. If you really meditated on these three characteristics of God day and night, if you really sat down and considered them prayerfully, you would truly live a peaceful, restful, joyful Christian life, unencumbered by fear or worry. That sounds wonderful, doesn’t it, especially in our hectic, fast-paced lives.
Think of it: peace, rest, joy, contentment — we’re called as Christians to produce all of these things, even in a culture filled with darkness and without any understanding of God.
What are these attributes? We’ll get to them in part II.
1. Charles Spurgeon, “Ps. 88,” in The Treasury of David, The Spurgeon Archive (http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps088.htm).