Almost everyone at one time or another experiences a period of sadness. Most people get over it with a little time. But for some people, the sadness continues.
If you are caught in a prolonged period of sadness, you may recognize one or more of the signs that often accompany depression: a growing distrust of God, resentment of others, difficulty making decisions, guilt, inactivity, sleeplessness or oversleeping, not eating or overeating, doubting, complaining, worrying, and hopelessness, as though you're in an inescapable pit.
Thankfully, as desperate as everything may look, there are real reasons for hope. God loves you. And He wants to fill you with joy, peace, fulfillment and so much more.
First Step to Help
The Bible says that Jesus came that we "might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10, NAS). Certainly, depression is not abundant life. But you can be assured, God wants you to find His peace and joy. He will help you because you are very, very important to Him.
Are you in a position to receive God's gift of "abundant life"? If you are not certain, ask God right now to forgive you for your sins and to come and rule in your life (Romans 10:9, 10,13; I John 1:8,9; John 1:12,13). The Bible describes what happens the moment you first give your life to God as being "born again." Spiritually you are a new person. But you now need to learn a new way of living. God will help you. Ask Him to fill you completely with His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). God's Spirit will give you the power to live like God wants you to live. The Holy Spirit guides, comforts, teaches, empowers and produces within a Christian the actual characteristics of God -- love, joy, peace, patience and more (Galatians 5:22-23). And it is when you are living the way God wants that you will experience the full and joyful life God has for you.
When you are born again, God takes up residence in your spirit. He brings with Him the promise of great joy and peace, sometimes immediately. But what if you are now a Christian and you are depressed? You are not alone. Many people of faith have experienced periods of deep depression. The Bible stories of Moses, David and so many others show us how God's love continues even during these times and that He eventually brings great hope.
What You Can Do
What can you do to overcome depression? It depends on why you are depressed. There are many possible reasons, but since more than one may be present in your life, read all the sections below:
Physical: Some depression is caused by physical problems. Improper diet, lack of exercise, and not enough sleep can all contribute to depression. So if you are feeling "down," make sure you are taking care of your body.
In addition, many illnesses can cause depression (others may be caused by depression). Also, some medications can cause depression. It's always a good idea to see your doctor for a checkup t rule out physical reasons. But remember, God can heal any physical problem, including one that causes, or is caused by, depression (Psalm 103:3; Matthew 8:16-17).
If your doctor has diagnosed a particular problem, ask your prayer partner, pastor, Christian counselor or other Christian to pray with you for God's healing (James 5:14-16). But if you are taking medication for any problem, consult your doctor before changing or stopping it.
Losses and Other Hurts: When something you see as bad happens to you, it's normal to feel hurt. You may have lost your job or other financial security. You may have been wronged in some way, recently or in the past. You may have a bad relationship with a friend, family member, or spouse. A loved one may have died. Or you may even be hurting about something you've never had, but feel you should have, such as a spouse or children. It is okay for you to hurt over a situation like this. Tell God about your hurt. He already knows, but it is important for you to put the hurt into words and tell Him. Also tell a trusted friend or pastor, or consult a Christian counselor. Allow yourself to cry if you want to. Normal grieving, including crying, is healthy.
The Bible says that Jesus "bore our griefs" on the cross (Isaiah 53:4 NAS). He feels our pain as strongly as we do and will carry it for us. Give your hurt to Him. Then resolve not to dwell on it again.
Sin: Sometimes depression is rooted in sin. You will never be at peace if you ignore something in your life that you know is against God's will (I Timothy 1:19). If you know you are doing or have done something against God's will, admit to God that it is wrong. Then ask His help in doing what is right. If you admit your sin and turn from it, God has promised to forgive you completely, and cleanse you from the sin (I John 1:9). Trust Him to do it.
If it is an ongoing sin and it seems too big for you to deal with, just deal with it today, this moment. Tell God that with His help you will do the right thing right now. In addition, you may need to take some action to make up for your sin with those you have wronged. You may need a pastor or Christian counselor to help you decide what to do.
Don't forget to obey God in the small things. Very often, it is because we have chosen to ignore Him in the small things that we slowly slip into deeper problems. You can reverse this slide. If you obey God in the small things, it will help put you back on track in the larger things. You may need to obey Him in something so simple as getting up early enough to get to work on time without rushing.
Wrong Thinking: What do you think about right before you feel depressed? Do you think such things as "I'm no good," or "I can't do anything right," or "This situation will never change"? It's vitally important for you to find out what God says is the truth about you and your life. Read the Bible closely to find out what is the real truth (Ephesians 1:18-19). Once you find out the wonderful things God says about you, stop repeating negative things to yourself. Instead, memorize and repeat to yourself the truths you find in the Bible that contradict the negative thoughts.
Fill your thoughts with such truths as : "For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power" (Philippians 4:13); "It is he who will supply all (my) needs from his riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for (me)" (Philippians 4:19); "For the Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want (me) to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them" (II Timothy 1:7). "Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us" (Romans 8:37); "He personally carried the load our sins in his own body when he died on the cross, so that we can be finished with sin and live a good life from now on. For his wounds have healed ours!" (I Peter 2:24).
In Conclusion: Admit to God you need His help in order to live rightly with peace and joy. Repent of any known sin. Accept God's forgiveness and cleansing (I John 1:9).
Rebuild your spiritual life through Bible reading, prayer and fellowship with other Christians. Attend a local Bible-believing church faithfully. Being an active member in a church is a good way to begin to grow spiritually and learn an overcoming faith.
If your depression continues, seek help from your pastor or other qualified Christian counselor. There ARE answers for you. However, finding and solving the root causes of depression do not always happen quickly.
And finally, don't be surprised if once you are on the other side of depression, you thank God for this time of hardship and the good that has come out of it.
As You Pray
Ask God to reveal specific thoughts and actions He wants you to change. Agree with Him when He points out sin and ask Him to help you change. Forgive others who have wronged you. Thank God for His love and ask Him for healing and a renewed joy in life.
For Further Study
God's love for us -- Psalm 42:4-11
The right way to think -- Philippians 4:4-13
God is touched by our feelings -- Hebrews 4:14-16
Repentance assures God's presence -- James 4:8
God gives peace -- Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27