Depression is possibly responsible for more pain and distress than any other affliction of mankind. It is difficult to define depression, describe its symptoms, or treat it. The dictionary defines depression as an emotional condition, either neurotic or psychotic, characterized by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, gloominess, dejection, sadness, difficulty in thinking and concentration, and inactivity. Both Christians and non Christians can suffer depression.
Depressed people have a negative self-image, often accompanied by feelings of guilt, shame, and self-criticism. Neurotic depression can be linked to wrong conduct or behavior and wrong reactions to such conduct. After a series of improper acts and subsequent faulty reactions, guilt and depression set in. If sin is at the heart of the problem, it should never be minimized. Neither should support be given to the idea that other things and other people are responsible for behavioral problems. Rest assured. we take your views on your affliction seriously.
Seek the causes which may have contributed to the depression. Putting your life in order spiritually will eventually eradicate the depression.
The Bible can be used very effectively. The release of the Holy Spirit’s power will inevitably result in positive steps on a road to recovery and wholeness. Never give up. God is there for you. Be patient. Complex problems for which there are no quick and easy solutions are often involved in depression.
Symptoms of depression may come about as a result of such things as unresolved anger, resentment, real or imagined wrongs, self pity, guilt, or immorality. We are here to help you find a solution.
Do your trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Consider the following:
It would be a disservice to minimize in any way the seriousness of sin. In order for you to experience forgiveness, there must be recognition and confession of sin.
Consider the following:
Assurance of salvation is the awareness of belonging to Christ and having complete confidence that He has given us everlasting life. Many Christians lack this kind of assurance. Because of ambivalence about their relationship with Christ, they don’t really experience the joy of the Lord. The only thing they are entirely sure of is that they have doubts. Uncertainty can stem from any of the following:
• Not being truly converted. A Christian is a person who has trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior:
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).
A person who lacks this experience cannot possibly be certain about having eternal life. Salvation is not based on a person’s performance, but on his or her relationship with Jesus Christ. Confident Christians can say:
“For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
• Trusting feelings rather than God’s Word. Some people, especially new Christians, expect a sustained, emotional elation; and when this is missing or lags, doubts come. Our eternal relationship with God cannot be based only on emotion. We must rest on facts based on His written Word. We are to commit ourselves to the finished work of Christ on the cross. Having trusted Him, we continue in this relationship, confident that:
“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
• Sin and disobedience in the life of the Christian. These will result in ambivalence and uncertainty:
“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, KJV).
Sin must be acknowledged and confessed in order to maintain unbroken fellowship with God.
The Christian who does not nurture his or her life in the Word of God, prayer, fellowship, and witness will dry up, opening the way to uncertainty and doubts. The biblical admonition to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) is not just an idle phrase. We grow or we die.
If you do not know whether or not you trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, due to misunderstanding the true nature of Christian conversion or due to dependence on your own performance must remember that salvation means a relationship with Christ through the new birth (John 1:12; 3:3), not through our own efforts (Ephesians 2:9).
If you depend on your feelings, remember that our experience must rest on the biblical facts of the Gospel, not on emotion.
The Christian who is disobedient, harboring sin in his or her life: Share “Restoration,” page 17. Emphasize 1 John 1:9 and 2:1, and Romans 12:1.
You need to pursue a vital spiritual relationship with Christ:
Read and study the Bible.
Pray. Through prayer, we:
• worship God
• confess our sins to Him
• express our gratitude and thanksgiving
• remember the needs of others
Seek to develop relationships with other Christians through a Bible teaching church. This will provide fellowship, Bible study, and opportunities for service to Christ—all necessary to develop the Christian life. Experience with Christ gives us real hope. It should bring new awareness and understanding to the battle against depression.
Reading and study the Bible. This will teach the will and ways of God. It will bring your thinking in line with God and will result in inner peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Learn to pray and to do so daily. Through prayer we confess our sins and are renewed. We learn to experience God’s constant presence and approval. We worship as we praise and thank Him. And we express our own needs and those of others.
Cultivate friendships with people who will provide support and encouragement. Such friends may be found in a Bible teaching church, a Bible class, or a Christian singles’ group. This fellowship may also provide opportunities for Christian service, in which concerns are focused on the needs of others.
Seek out a qualified pastor or Christian psychologist for continued counseling in order that all the facets of the depression may be dealt with in the light of Scripture.
A Christian may suffer from depression in reaction to adverse situations, defeats, and setbacks such as a death in the family, a rebellious son or daughter, or loss of employment:
Remember: You are not alone in your suffering. God cares and will not leave you alone. The Lord Jesus not only bore our sins but also our sorrows and heartaches.
Perhaps your present depression might be due to an inability to trust God fully in all circumstances of life. Rededication to Christ may be needed, along with a commitment to be responsive and obedient to God’s will (Romans 12:1–2).
Recommit yourself to the disciplines of Bible study and prayer (Proverbs 3:5–6; Isaiah 26:3).
Be faithful in worship and service through the church.
A Christian may also be depressed because of spiritual disobedience and unresolved sin in such areas as anger and bitterness, jealousy, grudges, a divorce, or immorality:
Your are right to seek a solution— the first step back to wholeness is spiritual renewal.
Consider the following:
Other steps may be necessary beyond recommitment. For example, you may need to mend fences broken down as a result of such things as gossip, criticism, envy, or immorality. In cases where things such as theft or fraud were involved, restitution should be considered.
Consider a serious commitment to Bible study. Learning to think God’s thoughts is a valuable aid to spiritual recovery (Romans 12:2; Philippians 4:8).
Become involved in a Bible-teaching church where worship, fellowship, and opportunities for service are available.
Consider a serious commitment to professional counseling with a qualified pastor or Christian psychologist until all issues involved in the depression are resolved in the light of Scripture.
A Christian may also be depressed because of setting standards and goals beyond his or her ability to attain. This may be true both for economic or spiritual goals; failure brings on depression:
Goals which others may set for themselves and seem to attain may not be right for your circumstances. The fact that you are depressed may indicate the unattainability of such goals.
Success or failure cannot be measured by any human standard. Consider the following criteria:
• Does what I desire conform with God’s will? Can it be supported by Scripture?
• Is what I desire for the glory of God, or to satisfy some personal whim or selfish ambition?
• Have I been motivated by spiritual pride?
• Is what I desire in line with the guidance given by the apostle Paul:
* Be what I am—what God has made me: Learn to live with my strengths and limitations: “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
* Trying to emulate someone else (“keeping up with the Joneses”) is spiritually undesirable and counterproductive (2 Corinthians 10:12, NIV).
Perhaps you should consider renewing your spiritual commitment:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Learn the disciplines of Bible study and prayer.
Rearrange priorities so that they are more in line with your abilities.
Consider a serious commitment to professional counseling. A qualified pastor or Christian psychologist should be sought.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).