Depression in the Bible: What Do the Scriptures Say?
The good news is that this world is not your home. You are just passing through on your way to eternity. If you have accepted the gift of salvation Jesus purchased for you on the cross, you can look forward to everlasting life in His presence, and the promise that there will be no more sorrow and no more pain (Revelation 21:4).
Many Christians believe that depression is a sign of weakness, or that they are depressed because their faith is not strong enough. Some even attribute it to sin. However, interspersed throughout the pages of your Bible are stories of godly people, strong in the Lord, who also struggled with feelings of hopelessness and depression. The following three are examples.
Godly people who struggled with depression in the Bible
Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet called by God to warn the people of Jerusalem of their coming destruction unless they repented of their sins and turned from their wicked ways. At first, he was reluctant to do so, but later felt compelled to proclaim the message.
The people refused to listen to Jeremiah. He was rejected, ridiculed, mocked, beaten, imprisoned, and even thrown into a cistern. Overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness, failure, defeat, and despair, he questioned why he had been allowed to be born.
“Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.” (Jeremiah 15:10). Yet despite his anguish, Jeremiah remained faithful to God and continued to obey whatever He told him to say or do.
As the darkness of his situation threatened to overpower him, Jeremiah had a memory that gave him a glimmer of hope. He remembered God’s past faithfulness and goodness (Lamentations 3:21-23). From that point on, he purposefully took his focus off of his circumstances and started concentrating on the character of God. By doing so, he was able to dig his way out of his dark pit of depression.
Elijah is an example of someone with depression in the Bible. He was a mighty man of God who, following a great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, ran for his life when Queen Jezebel found out about it and threatened to kill him. Instead of feeling victorious, he felt weary, discouraged, depressed, and alone.
He fled to the desert and sat under a tree. “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4). Then he lay down to sleep. The Lord did not rebuke Elijah, but sent an angel to minister to him and bring him food and drink (1 Kings 19:5-8).
Strengthened by the rest and nourishment, Elijah continued on his way to Mount Horeb and took refuge in a cave. When God asked him what he was doing there, he plaintively replied, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:10).
God told Elijah to come out of the cave and reassured him that he was not the only one left. Seven thousand others had remained faithful to the Lord as well (1 Kings 19:18).
DavidDavid was a giant killer, an illustrious king, a warrior, a psalmist, a man after God’s own heart. He was another person who suffered from depression in the Bible. His life was full of challenges, and he made some bad decisions, but he never turned away from God, nor did God ever abandon him. Because David was secure in who he was and in whose he was, he was able to place himself in God’s hands and trust Him to deliver him.
David’s laments can be found in many of the psalms. He wrote vividly and openly about his anguish, his loneliness, his fear of the enemy, and the guilt he struggled with because of sin. But always, in the end, his despair was transformed into joy when he turned his focus on God and started praising Him
Lessons learned from stories of depression in the Bible
There is hope in the darkness. The way out is to seek refuge in the LORD and to focus on His promise of eternal love and care for those who put their trust in him.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24
God wants us to cry out to Him during our trouble, and keep our focus on Him.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” – Psalm 50:15
From the end of the earth, I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.– Psalm 61:2-3
God is always at our side. We never face our battles alone.
In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. – Psalm 57:1b
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.– Psalm 23:4
Talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself. Emotions can lead you astray. Put your hope in God and in His Word that stands firm and unchanging. Trust that this season of darkness will pass, and the light will dawn.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength[a] of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. – Psalm 42:11
No matter how dismal our circumstances may seem, they cannot diminish the character of God and His care for His children. We should praise Him whether we’re going through good times or bad. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. – Psalm 13:5-6
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! – Psalm 34:1-3
Christian counseling for depression
Christian counseling involves a combination of Biblical principles and clinical intervention. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, please contact me or one of the other faith-based counselors in our online counselor directory today. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss practical techniques for dealing with depression, as well as help you manage the challenges you face, and support and encourage you along the way.
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