Is It Wrong For A Christian To Be Depressed What Is Depression
If you are asking this question in response to your own or your loved one’s depression, we are so sorry for the pain you’re experiencing. The church often treats depression poorly, which doesn’t help the depressed person, regardless of the cause of their depression. We hope that we can give your heart some answers that will empower you to reach whatever next step toward management you need.
Stage: : Discontentment Can Lead To Despair
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed perplexed, but not driven to despair persecuted, but not forsaken struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:89
Responding poorly to lifes circumstances can bring us to a point of despair where we question why God has allowed these difficult circumstances and seemingly is not changing them. Throughout Scripture we see Gods people come to a point of despair wondering if He is there and if He cares. When we are struggling with depression we are usually asking why these circumstances are in our life.
Consider the words of David:
You know my reproach,and my shame and my dishonor my foes are all known to you.Reproaches have broken my heart,so that I am in despair.I looked for pity, but there was none,and for comforters, but I found none.
In our deep-seated discontentment, we look for comforters. Ultimately, God allows the discomforts of this world to remind us to come to him for comfort. However, we often turn to relationships, substances, food, sex, and entertainment for comfort. When those things dont satisfy, we go deeper into despair. We are searching for comfort and we not finding it.
In this stage, you may start struggling to do things that you want to do. At times even getting out of bed, brushing our hair, and performing basic necessities seem to difficult. Meeting a friend or going to church seems impossible and pointless. These are the lies of depression when despair sets in.
Misconception: Depression Will Go Away If You Pray Hard Enough Or Have Enough Faith
Reality: Depression usually needs to be treated with more than prayer.
Again, depression is a serious illness. As with any illness, someone with depression should seek professional medical treatment. While God is capable of divinely healing mental or physical illness, He does not always intervene in that way. He provides other ways to heal. God gave people like doctors and mental health professionals the understanding and skills to help those who are suffering.
Because chronic stress and trauma can cause physical and chemical changes in the body and brain, they can trigger or worsen depression. Therapy or counseling can be a crucial part of treatment for many people suffering from depression. Being able to process trauma and come up with strategies to reduce stressors and cope with difficulties can help people heal from depression.
Though there is often an environmental and emotional component to depression, the underlying issue is usually biological. This is one reason two people may be going through the same or similar situations and one may develop depression while the other does not. Depression, as with all things involving the brain, is complex, and not even the most advanced researchers fully understand exactly what causes it.
There is no shame in needing medication for depression if you are a Christian.
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The Frequent Lie Of The Enemy: There Is No Hope
God may allow Satan to break our body, but those who hope in Jesus have hope and do not lose heart . On the other hand, Satan tells us there is no hope, and death is the only escape.
- 1 Timothy 6:5 Depraved mind
- 2 Corinthians 3:14 Dull mind
- 2 Corinthians 4:4 Blinded mind
- 2 Kings 6:11 Troubled mind
- 2 Timothy 3:8 Corrupt mind
- Isaiah 61:3 Spirit of no hope
- Romans 8:7 Sinful mind
Action Steps That Help
When you feel depression beginning to take hold of your life, try to do the following:
- Make sure youre still reading the Bible and praying. You have the power, in Christ, to do what God wills.
- Thank God for loving you and bringing you through the bout of depression. Gods Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority.
- Try not to make a major decision while in a depressed frame of mind.
- Thank God for taking care of you and loving you even when you cant feel it or see it. This exercises your faith and strengthens you.
Here are a few additional thoughts to keep in mind for those struggling with depression:
- At times, depression can relate to emotions that have been ignored or pushed away for years. Be willing to face them through Christs strength. As Matthew 5:4 says, Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Though not advisable in every situation, medication may provide needed physical help for people struggling with depression. Talk to a doctor about it.
- Reaching out for Christian counseling can provide support, help you address underlying causes of your depression, and help you develop a plan of action.
From Conquering Depression: A 30-Day Plan to Finding Happiness, published by Broadman & Holman Publishers. Copyright © 2001, Mark A. Sutton and Bruce Hennigan. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
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Depression Isnt What The Church Sometimes Makes It Out To Be
Its not a character defect, a spiritual disorder or an emotional dysfunction. And chief of all, its not a choice. Asking someone to try not being depressed is tantamount to asking someone whos been shot to try and stop bleeding. Such an attitude can dangerously appear in the Church as, if only you had enough faith.
Cue the record scratch for any Christian regarding matters of healing. Having faith in Gods ability to heal is hugely important, and personal faith can help ease depression. But to deny medical or psychiatric treatment to someone suffering from mental illness is really no different than denying them to someone with a physical illness. The difference between the two is that the former is invisible.
Speaking of the invisible, some faith traditions are quick to suggest demonic attack as the cause for depression. While Im convinced that theres definitely a spiritual elementthe enemy will exploit any weaknessmedical science holds that major depressive disorder is real and the causes are manifold.
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How Should Christians View Depression
Its clear, then, that depression isnt just a problem today, but one people struggled with hundreds of years before Christ. They might have called it anything from melancholy to spirit possession, but it caused great suffering, despair, and in some cases, suicide.
It was a real, pressing problem, one that started wars and leveled leaders and one that had no easy solution. Time after time, the Bible presents stories of depressed people crying out to God, begging for help or for Him to just take the pain away. Its not identified as a sin but an earthly hardship, perhaps much like oppression or even poverty, which Jesus himself said we will always have with us .
God Sees You And Is With You
We have a personal Savior who experiences emotions. As you suffer the effects of mental illness, you can remember the nearness of Christ. He weeps with you, as he wept with Lazaruss family . He knew the resurrecting work he was about to do, but he sobbed with anger anyway. Likewise, he knows how he is going to work in and through your life, and he is with you in the midst of it.
By grace, he sent the Holy Spirit, our comforter and counselor, to be with you, to help you. The Holy Spirit intercedes for you . He cries out for you when you cant form words, but only sounds of despair .
Remain steadfast, therefore, for there is great hope: The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit . We are all broken in our own ways, but Christ makes us whole. He lights up the darkest corners of my heart and mind . He pulls me out of the deepest pit . And if he sees fit, he will use me to reach others .
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Embracing Your Role As A Spouse
As a spouse, you have three roles to playa friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. Youll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.
Although Things May Be Difficult Christians Can Avoid Deep Depression
We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed we are perplexed, but not in despair persecuted, but not forsaken struck down, but not destroyed Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternalglory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV 2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV excerpt
Remember what Jesus Christwent through for us. Remember what the apostlePaul experienced, yet remained focused on the eternal rather than the temporary. When we maintain faith and keep our focus on God’s love and the hope He has given us for eternity, Christians can weather the storms of life. It can be done.
I have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NKJV
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Encouraging Truths For Christians With Mental Illness
The apostle Paul speaks of a thorn in his side that he pleaded with God three times to remove . Biblical scholars arent sure exactly what Pauls thorn was, but I can tell you mine: bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed as an adolescent and have pleaded with God more than thrice to remove this from me.
It took me longer than Paul to hear God telling me that his grace is sufficient.
Mental illness can still be a highly stigmatized topic in the church. For those who do not have such struggles, suicidal ideations and the extreme despair that come with clinical depression can be difficult to understand. Although many Christians know the trial of occasional anxiety or depressed feelings, people with a diagnosed mental illness face unique challenges.
Charles Spurgeon once said, 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 in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour. Mental illness is not a new phenomenon.
And the same biblical truths that have encouraged Christians for centuries can encourage those who suffer with mental illness today. Though we may continue to struggle daily in the bottomless pit of the mind, we can cling to four encouragements.
You Can Find Strength By Leaning On Community
When youre depressed, the last thing you usually want to do is be around people. The problem is that being alone with your thoughts is probably the most dangerous thing you can do when youre really depressed. Depressive thoughts tend to spiral, and because depression overwhelms your emotions, its easy to believe the lies that your life is hopeless and no one cares about you.
As much as you do not feel like being around people, its crucial to have someone who can just be with you and be a physical reminder that people love you.
If you are at the point where going anywhere or even just getting out of bed seems impossible, ask a trusted friend to come by and spend time with you. Give that person a key if you are at the point where you cannot get out of bed. If you do not feel like talking, watch a movie together or listen to music.
If you are able, go to places where you can receive support and encouragement, like a church small group or a family gathering. Sadly, sometimes those places are not supportive or encouraging. If thats the case, it is really important to find at least a few key people who can walk through your depression with you.
If you do not feel like you can muster the initiative to get yourself out and go somewhere on your own, ask a friend to help. Have someone who attends the same church come by and pick you up on their way to church. Have a small group member in the same neighborhood meet you to walk to group with you.
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Things Christians Should Know About Depression And Anxiety
Editors Note: This article was originally posted in 2017. We are re-sharing it now in light of how many people may find their struggles with depression and anxiety exacerbated by self-isolation.
Depression and anxiety tend to be some of those touchy subjects that are tough to tackle from a Christian perspective.
Its not complicated just because the illnesses themselves are so complex, manifesting themselves in myriad ways, but also because perspectives about mental disorders vary greatly throughout the Church.
This isnt to paint the Church with broad strokes. Incorrect beliefs about mental illness are pervasive throughout our culture. However, some of the church-y misconceptions about clinical depression and anxiety spring from a genuine desire to understand them scripturally. Its necessary to generalize a bit to understand these attitudes: there are things well-meaning Christians tend to get wrong.
Of course, there is way more information about anxiety and depression than what can be summed up in one article, so its certainly worth doing more research on the subject. But if we as the Church are going to start talking about these issues, here are a few things we should know:
Misconception: Depression Is A Sin
Variation: Being depressed means you are failing to trust God. Being depressed means you are failing to be joyful in all things or to give thanks to God.
Reality: Depression is an illness, not a sin.
If you get a cold or suffer from back pain or any physical illness, does anyone ever tell you that youre being sinful or failing to trust God because you are in pain? It sounds unreasonable because it is. Its just as unreasonable to say suffering from depression or any other mental illness is a sin.
God created a perfect world, but when evil entered, perfection was shattered and the world was never the same. We all suffer in some ways from the results of evil breaking into Gods perfect creation. Illness, whether it be physical or mental, is one of the many ways we see how broken our world truly is.
Yes, mental illness is often triggered by stressors or negative environmental factors, but that does not mean it is not real. Physical illness is also frequently triggered by stressors and negative environmental factors. Stress can cause ulcers and increase the risk of a heart attack, very serious illnesses that, like depression, need treatment, not condemnation.
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Moses Was Grieved Over The Sin Of His People
In his feelings of anger and betrayal from his own people, Moses, as a leader, was about ready to quit. He came down from his mountaintop experience with God, commandments in hand, only to find the Israelites in complete chaos and sin. His heart-cry to God on their behalf was desperate:
But now, please forgive their sin but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written. Exodus 32:32
Depression Due To Guilt
Then the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it. Genesis 4:6-7 NASB
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted awayThrough my groaning all day long.For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.Selah. Psalm 32:3-4 NASB
For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Your eyes Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried out to You. Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, And fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no . I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Psalm 31:22 – 32:2, 32:5 NKJV excerpts
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