Depression– melancholy, despair, and unhappiness – is one of the greatest misfortunes and it has crept into the crevices and corridors of our faith communities. Anyone so suffering should seek pastoral and/or professional counseling and stay completely committed to their healing and recovery.
As a pastor, depression among the folks I work with – whether clinical or situational – is one of my major concerns. It always disturbs me when believers (people of faith) buy into their diagnoses more than into God the Creator, Healer, and Sustainer. This does not mean ignoring a diagnosis of depression, but it is a plea to seek total healing and deliverance in order to survive any form of hopelessness.
From a spiritual perspective, depression is a deep-rooted sense of despair. It’s a nagging feeling of discouragement, misery, and sadness often linked with a perception of powerlessness and ineffectiveness. Depression is the loss of meaning and zeal for life itself.
Many factors can contribute to the detachment that underlies depression: unresolved issues, unhealed hurts, and unmet needs. As well, depression can grow out of loneliness, a broken heart, guilt and shame, abuse (emotional, physical, and verbal), physical illness, and grief, to name a few.
Everyone experiences some form of depression on some level at some given point in their lives.
What I’ve encountered in the last few years is how people who have been diagnosed with depression tend to focus on the causes rather than finding ways to get through the process of dealing with them.
The Bible is full of narratives that teach us how to deal with depression on all fronts. For nothing is new under the sun unto God. Let’s take a peek into what the Bible says about depression: In Exodus chapter 3 and 4, Moses, called to deliver the people of Israel from bondage, yet was flanked with worry, how the people would perceive him.
In Psalm 6:2-4:6, King David in his distress over his misdeeds calls out to God hoping that God will not forsake him and learns how to live through his shame and guilt.
In Genesis, chapter 21, Hagar (a concubine and enslaved woman of color), excommunicated from the one home she knew of, faces homelessness due to extreme jealousy and prejudice from Sarah (a privileged woman), her boss.
In Genesis, chapter 22, Abraham is asked to go and sacrifice his son without any notice from God.
In Esther, chapter 8, Esther faces the genocide of her people due to lies and cover-ups.
In Second Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul pleads with God three times to take away the “thorn” (metaphor for physical and emotional pain). God’s answer to Paul is “my grace is sufficient.”
God’s grace is sufficient. Learning to live into our wholeness is crucial. As you read the narratives in the Bible, many were challenged with bouts of depression, yet they learned how to live through uncertainty.
We do not have to give into the gloomy world of depression. If we can believe that God has our backs and that God will not leave nor forsake us, we can inevitably live through it. I am reminded of a scripture which says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (nor humanity). We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…
The good news is there is always opportunities to surviving hopelessness and living life on purpose, living out our passions. Life is filled with joy, love, peace, and hope. Pursue happiness and pray without ceasing for it is our anchor to surviving. You do not have to be super spiritual to get a breakthrough; God loves communing with folks, people who truly depend on the Creator for their total healing will receive it. If you read further into each of those narratives mentioned above, you will discover how God interceded on the behalf of each individual and showed them favor due to God’s plan for their life. I challenge you to trust and believe God, live through your condition, for it does not define who you are.
Live, laugh, and love through it!
The author is senior pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of Baltimore