How can Christians be depressed?

Depression has a long history of being misunderstood, both by the larger culture and, unfortunately, by the church. For many of us, shame and stigma can cause us to keep our struggles with mental health issues hidden from our friends, our church communities, and even from God himself. This week on Ask Away, Vince and Jo discuss depression and anxiety in the context of the brokenness of the world, offering some helpful ways to think about the examples of discouragement and weeping that abound in the Biblical account, and pointing to the God who is compassionate enough to sit with us in our lowest moments.

Have you had episodes of depression and if so what has been helpful and encouraging to you during those times?

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I have struggled with guilt in depression because I put it to myself that as a daughter of the King I have no business being depressed. But, as the podcast mentions, when I purposefully seek out the great leaders in the Bible who expressed, what could be depression, I am touched with the way God responds to them. (And yes, cake does help for about 30 minutes! :rofl:)

But all kidding aside, remembering that we are created for purpose and meaning. And in this life we are guaranteed struggle in the brokenness of the world and the suffering that comes from it as we wait for the consummation of our relationship in His Presence eternally.

I am always encouraged that the Lord knows our struggles as He came in the flesh and suffered in countless ways out of love and mercy for us.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are --yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

One of my favorite passages pertaining to purpose is:

…He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17: 25b-28

He is in the details of our very being with appointed time, place, people, cultures, race, gender, everything! And He wants us to reach for Him.

I would love to know: What scriptures have encouraged others who have/are battling depression?

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Depression seems to run in my family, and I think partly because of this and partly because of some other situational things, most of my childhood I was depressed, I didn’t realize it at the time because that’s how I always felt, but since I committed myself to the Lord for real, for myself, not because of anything else, God took a lot of that away from me.

This is not to say that I don’t struggle with it anymore however, I definitely do, but now I recognize it when it starts, and when I feel it starting I attack it in different ways.
I often start by praying against it. I try to identify the source, if I think it is purely spiritual then I may ask for someone else to also pray over me. But often it is related to something physical, as we are stuck in these bodies for now, so one of the best things for me is to go do something physical, to get my blood flowing, to enjoy the endorphins and other natural hormones that God equipped us with, and I also try to give myself some task to do, at least for the moment.

Over the last couple years I have also started more intently memorizing Bible verses, so that I can use them as the sword of the spirit, to remind myself of the truth. I realized at some point that when I have been at my worst, most often I was believing a lie, whatever it was, that I’m not good enough, that I never will be, that I am worthless, that I’m not going anywhere in life, that no one likes me, and of course those are all lies, and the best way I have found is to recite Bible verses that directly contradict those evil thoughts.

And lastly, sometimes, if I can feel the depression starting, I will actually, shout - If I am alone - or if people are around, just say it quietly but strongly and firmly, “No!” It sounds silly to say it right now, but it has really helped me. Often times in my experience, depression can have a snowball effect where ugliness piles on top of ugliness, and if I can just stop it before it gets really bad, it’s a lot easier, on me and the people around me. Also I think it is because I know that the lies are starting, and it’s as if I am telling myself to not believe them, but also that whatever it is that is putting them in my head that they have no right because I am a child of God, bought with a price, paid for by the blood, I am weak and small but he is so big and powerful and good, and somehow all of that gets summed up when I just say “NO.”

It reminds me of when I would say something ugly about myself when I was a child, and my mother would say to me, “be nice to my daughter, I love her.”

These are a couple of my favorite verses to recite in difficult times

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:13 “I am still confident of this: I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD, be strong and take heart, and wait for the LORD.”

James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

(I also really like to sing when I am troubled)

But really, when I am in a moment of struggle, any verse that talks about God’s character or being brings me hope.

Nehemiah 9:6 "You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

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Robert,

One of my children has had a recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and depression. I was completely caught off-guard and unprepared. BUT, I came across The Mind and Soul Foundation, based out of the UK (one of its key speakers is a lady named Dr. Kate Middleton - how funny!) through a Zacharias Trust mention and found it had some great resources. The link to their site is here. I have gone to the resources tab and listened to several of the audio files related to depression, anxiety, resilience, confidence and stress, among others, and have found them very helpful as introductory and explanatory material. Really helped me understand that my child was not trying to be disobedient or rebellious but was in fact struggling and overwhelmed. Significantly altered my perception and led to me changing the way in which I interact with him, which has healed our relationship. We are great friends again and able to love each other well, even while he is still struggling. But, now I am part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

I listened to some more material yesterday and one speaker was a school dean, I believe at Barrow college in the UK. He related how training for students, staff and teachers included training on H-A-L-T, a program they use to facilitate healthy relationships. HALT stands for Hungry-Anxious-Lonely-Tired. If a conversation seems off-kilter, then self-reflecting on, and possibly asking about, these items could help one be more empathetic and understanding towards someone instead of reactionary. I’m sure it will help me in the future.

Anyway, on the site, the Resources tab is where the material I’ve accessed is located. The material supports the view that issues like depression are not necessarily spiritually anchored and may be experienced by most at varying times but that it is seldom a chronic, lifelong state, if addressed properly.

Hope it helps others like it has me!

Kevin

I haven’t been able to share for quite a while but I realize how destructive depression can be to A person’s life spiritually, soulfully (in your mind and emotions), and physically when it manifests in dis-ease and self destruction. If I may share some spiritual wisdom and insight, I believe that these scriptural principles can help you and others to gain the victory that has already been purchased for you on the Cross of Jesus Christ.
God made words to have a creative force. God Brought creation into being with words. As His children, we are made in His image and our words also have a creative power to them. By words, two people become one in marriage. By words, a sinner is Born Again and is transformed from a child of Satan to a child of God. Jehovah is “the God of our Profession.” “SELF TALK” reveals what we believe in our hearts. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matt. 12:34.
Mark 11:23 gives us the principle that a person “shall have whatsoever he saith.” This is partially how faith works through our words coupled with our beliefs system. It can work for blessing, or it can work to bring a curse upon ourselves.
Proverbs 18:21 Says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:”
James 3 instructs us to control our tongue for the purpose of bringing life to ourselves and others.
Many other scriptures exhort us to speak life to receive life. Erica, if I may encourage you today I would encourage you to change your confession of who you are and what you are to align your mind with who God created you to be when you were Born Again. You may be challenged with depressing thoughts and feelings but that doesn’t make you less than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. What you fight against is not what you are.
2 Cor. 10:4-5 Your battle is NOT a natural one. Its a battle of thoughts and cannot be won by natural means of psychology, psychiatry, or medication. Yours is a battle of words. The lying words of the enemy of your mind can only be defeated by God’s Words spoken by you to yourself with belief. Jesus had a battle of words with the Devil in the wilderness and overcame him with properly quoted scripture. That is the weapon that will make you free. “The Truth that you know by experience will make you free.”
A final scripture to help you know HOW to fight is Isaiah 54:17.
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;
and every TONGUE that shall rise against thee in judgment THOU shalt condemn.” When YOUR OWN tongue rises up and judges you to be depressed or in any way deficient in Christ, you can condemn those thought and words so they don’t take effect in your life. Then REPLACE those words with the Word of truth until you believe it. I’m attaching what I call my “I AM” list of scriptures that i pray through to tell me who I really am in Christ Jesus. You’ll notice there is nowhere that the Word tells me that I am depressed or sick, or in any way a loser. God is FOR YOU, not against you. Hope this list helps you as you pray through it and confess it over your life every day.
With much Aloha,
Kahu Russ

“I AM”:

  1. Blessed coming in and going out Deuteronomy 28:6
  2. Observing and doing the Lord’s commandments Deuteronomy 28:12
  3. Above only and not beneath Deuteronomy 28:13
  4. Kept in safety wherever I go Psalms 91:11
  5. Redeemed from the hand of the enemy Psalms 107:2
  6. Salt Matthew 5:13
  7. The Light of the World Matthew 5:14
  8. Establishing God’s Word here on earth Matthew 16:19
  9. Exercising my authority over the enemy Luke 10:19
  10. Free John 8:36
  11. Justified Romans 5:1
  12. Led by the Spirit of God Romans 8:14
  13. A son of God Romans 8:14
  14. A child of God Romans 8:16
  15. An heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Romans 8:17
  16. More than a conqueror Romans 8:37
  17. Being transformed by a renewed mind Romans 12: 1-2
  18. Your righteousness in Christ Jesus I Corinthians 1:30
  19. A laborer together with God I Corinthians 3:9
  20. Sanctified I Corinthians 6:11
  21. Not moved by what I see II Corinthians 4:18
  22. Walking by faith and not by sight II Corinthians 5:7
  23. A new creature II Corinthians 5:17
  24. The righteousness of God in Christ II Corinthians 5:21
  25. Casting down vain imaginations II Corinthians 10: 4-5
  26. Bringing every thought into captivity II Corinthians 10:5
  27. Redeemed from the curse of the law Galatians 3:13
  28. Heir to the blessings of Abraham Galatians 3:13-14
  29. Blessed with all spiritual blessings Ephesians 1:3
  30. Chosen by You, my Father Ephesians 1:4
  31. Holy and without blame							Ephesians 1:4
    
  32. Your child according to the good pleasure of Your will			Ephesians 1:5
    
  33. Accepted in the Beloved Ephesians 1:6
  34. Redeemed through the blood of Jesus Ephesians 1:7
  35. A person of wisdom and prudence Ephesians 1:8
  36. An heir Ephesians 1:11
  37. Seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus Ephesians 2:6
  38. Saved by grace through faith Ephesians 2:8
  39. Your workmanship Ephesians 2:10
  40. Near to You by the blood of Christ Ephesians 2:13
  41. Of your household Ephesians 2:19
  42. A citizen of heaven Ephesians 2:19
  43. Strengthened with might by Your Spirit Ephesians 3:16
  44. Rooted and grounded in love Ephesians 3:17
  45. Renewed in the spirit of my mind Ephesians 4:23
  46. An imitator of Jesus Ephesians 5:1
  47. Filled with the Spirit Ephesians 5:18
  48. Strong in the Lord and the power of His might Ephesians 6:10
  49. Doing all things through Christ who strengthens me Philippians 4:13
  50. Getting all my needs met by Jesus Philippians 4:19
  51. Delivered from the powers of darkness Colossians 1:13
  52. Forgiven Colossians 1:13-14
  53. Healed by His stripes I Peter 2:24
  54. Casting all my cares on Jesus I Peter 5:7
  55. A partaker of His divine nature II Peter 1:4
  56. Victorious I John 5:4
  57. An inheritor of eternal life I John 5:11-12
  58. Daily overcoming the devil I John 4:4
    59 An overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and word of my testimony Revelation 12:11
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Thank you, Erika. This is such great insight including tools for battle and practical application of God’s Word!