Years ago, I found myself in a tunnel of depression. I call it a tunnel because I came into it suddenly, but walked through it for a long time—several months in fact—before seeing signs of light on the other end.
There were several factors that likely contributed to me being in a depressed state for an extended period. I was in a major career transition at the time. I was faced with big life decisions. Due to relocation, I had become disconnected from a close peer group that had been part of my life for several years. The devil likely had a hand in my depressed condition as well.
By God’s grace, I eventually emerged on the other side of that tunnel, but it left me with a burden for others who experience depression.
Robert Somerville, in his book If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?, points the reader to several ways to find hope in depression. I want to share his list and add my own comments in hopes it may be helpful to you or someone you know who is battling depression. Here are five places to find hope in your depression:
1. Hope in God’s character: God is good, and he has not abandoned you in your depression. When I was diagnosed as clinically depressed, the worst part of the entire experience was the total loss of any feelings of closeness to God. My prayers were empty, and the sense of His presence was gone from me. Now, however, I understand that God cannot abandon those He loves and He has promised to love all who will come to Him in repentance and faith.
2. Hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ: The gospel of Jesus is good news to lost and hopeless sinners. Many who battle depression have had to learn to preach the gospel to themselves daily. To remind themselves that they, like all image bearers, are made in the image of God. They were separated from God due to their sin, but God loves them and sent Jesus —the Son of God —to seek and save lost people. Jesus saves us when we acknowledge our lost and separated state and turn to Him by faith. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Preaching the gospel to ourselves reminds us that we are lost without Christ, but that Christ saves all who will come to Him.
3. Hope through God’s provision: Somerville lists God’s provisions for the depressed as the word of God, the Holy Spirit, prayer, the body of Christ and biblical counselors. Dealing with depression is a journey without a road map. The depressed person feels like things will never get better. When I was depressed I just wanted to wake up and feel normal again. That never really happened, at least not in the way I had hoped. By utilizing the provision God made available I discovered that, over time, things started getting better and eventually I could say that I was no longer depressed. God provides all we need to walk through a dark season.
4. Hope through a purpose: Many people experience depression —especially men —when their perceived purpose in life is taken from them. Unfortunately, depression often accompanies an extended illness, a loss of career or even something as normal as retirement. Purpose gives us reason to get up and face each day. The depressed person will need to discover their purpose through a relationship with God and in serving and caring for others in the way God designed them.
5. Hope in the Father’s loving discipline: God only disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). While depression may not be the result of any particular sin, though it could be, it will be used of God to shape a child of God toward greater Christlikeness, including greater care and concern for others. God disciplines us to correct us and shape us to be like Jesus, and depression can be used by the Lord in that way.
If you are battling depression, please let others know so they can pray for you. Please see a medical doctor to be certain there are no physical reasons for your depression. You may also want to purchase and read Christian books that deal with this malady, as well as meditate on portions of scripture that address this all-too-common issue in the lives of great saints. Be sure of this: if you are a child of God, then He has not abandoned you in your depression and He will walk with you through it.