What the Bible says about depression
By - Nov 19th 2023
Depression is a state of unhappiness and hopelessness - a psychiatric disorder manifested by persistent feelings of dejection, lack of energy, poor concentration and sometimes suicidal thoughts. There are many causes of depression such as trauma or hormonal imbalance. Since I am not a medical doctor, I will approach this issue from a biblical perspective and give practical ways of dealing with it regardless of the cause.
Depression is not a respecter of persons and can afflict anybody irrespective of their background, social status or race. Great leaders such as Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Spurgeon suffered from depression. One psychologist termed it as ‘the common cold of emotional health’. Several men of God in the Bible battled depression including Moses, King David, and Elijah among others.
Elijah, a great prophet had the enormous task of going to King Ahab and his wife Jezebel to warn them of their wickedness and the coming judgement of God. The two were Elijah’s enemies and this was the reason that he had run for his dear life. Israel had erected and worshipped Baal the god of fertility and all sorts of sexual perversion activities were going on.
Elijah showed up at a contest on Mount Carmel in a bid to show that there is only one true God. The challenge: which God would answer by fire? Jehovah God answered by fire consequently, Elijah killed all prophets of Baal. Jezebel was very angry and vowed to do the same to him.
Even after witnessing God’s mighty wonders (through him) of causing rains during a drought spell and stopping it; sending fire to consume the sacrifice, altar and water trench surrounding it; raising the widow’s son; etc. he still succumbed to Jezebel’s death threats and became depressed.
From Elijah’s example, we can pick out the major causes of depression. First is the depletion of strength and energy. After the victory in Mount Carmel witnessed by thousands of people, he sank into depression because of the elimination threat from Jezebel. The execution of Baal’s prophets drained his emotional, physical strength and energy and he got fatigued.
Second is invasion of problems. He had a series of problems which exerted constant pressure on him. He had to confront and rebuke King Ahab; pronounce a drought on the land; and contest a showdown on Baal’s prophets. Third is loneliness. Elijah was alone. The worst form of punishment for a person is solitary confinement.
“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much more as you see the day of the Lord approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Fourth is self-pity. Oliver Sea Wilson says, “What poison is to food, self-pity is to life.” Self-pity is a psychological state of mind of an individual in a perceived adverse situation who has not accepted it and has neither the ability nor the confidence to deal with it. Elijah, got to a place of self-pity, developed a victim mentality and entertained suicidal thoughts by saying, “It is enough! Now Lord take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
Depression makes someone feel like God does not care and has even deserted them. “Self-pity is one of the most dangerous forms of self-centeredness - it fogs our vision” (Anonymous).
How do you get out of depression? Learn to take rest confidently in the presence of God. “Why are you cast down, o my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance” (Psalm 42:5). Develop a proper perspective by leaning heavily on the power of God’s word. “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).
Stay positive about God’s promises by focusing on his unfailing promises and believe that he is powerful enough to fulfill them. Surround yourself with the right people by being part of a fellowship group. “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some. Exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-24).
Fuel your faith through optimism in a life based on truth, praise and thanksgiving. Reckon and think about your situation as an opportunity to be joyful. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1st Thessalonians 5:18).
Avoid being alone for long hours and seek counsel from others. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labour, for if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But owe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” (Ecc 4:9-10).
Listen to inspirational and uplifting Christian music or songs. Music uplifts your spirit as it did to King Saul. “And so it was that whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from him” (1st Samuel 16:23).
Bishop David Muriithi
Founder & Overseer
House of Grace International Ministries