One of the greatest calamities to hit our communities throughout Baltimore and the surrounding communities is this whole since of hopelessness steeped in depression. Depression appears to have no particular address nor is it a respecter of persons. Moreover, hopelessness has crept into the crevices and corridors of our faith communities. Yes, feelings of hopelessness are real and for those with true diagnoses of any form of depression, one should stay on their meds, seek pastoral and/or professional counseling – staying completely committed to healing and recovery.
As a pastor, I am really concerned with the rate of folks being diagnosed with some form of depression albeit clinical or situational. I am doubly disturbed as to how believers (people of faith) have bought into the diagnoses more so than in God the Creator, Healer, and Sustainer. This is not a plea to ignore the diagnoses; for all diagnoses should be taken seriously. It is however, a clarion call to seek totally healing and deliverance in order to survive hopelessness.
In taking a closer look into depression from a spiritual perspective, depression is a deep rooted sense of hopelessness; a nagging feeling of discouragement, misery, and sadness often linked with a perception of powerlessness and ineffectiveness; the loss for meaning and zeal for life itself.
There are a lot of factors that play into ones feelings of detachment which in many ways leads to depression, e.g. unresolved issues, unhealed hurts, and unmet needs. The aspect of these are generally due to loneliness, a broken heart, despair, guilt and shame, external circumstances, abuse (emotional, physical, and verbal), physical illness, and grief to name a few. If the truth be told everyone experiences some form of depression on some level.
What I have encountered in the last few years in counseling/coaching church folks and people of great faith, is how people who have been diagnosed with depression tend to consistently focus on their circumstances or illness that cause the depression rather than finding ways to get through the process of surviving our circumstances.
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 the Word of God: Exodus chapter 3 and 4 Moses, called to deliver the people of Israel from bondage yet caught in a world-win of having to have a spirit of bold obedience in order to fully do what he was born to do, yet, worry how people would perceive him… Psalm 6:2-4;6 King David in his distress over misdeeds of his own doing calls out to God hoping that God will not forsake him … Genesis chapter 21, Hagar (Concubine/slave girl), excommunicated and facing homelessness and depression due to extreme jealousy and prejudice from Sarah, her boss… Genesis chapter 22, Abraham is asked to go and sacrifice (take his son’s life) without any notice… Esther chapter 8, Esther faces genocide of her people due to lies and cover-ups… Job chapter 3 in anguish and grief over losing all of his immediate family… 2nd Corinthians chapter 12, Paul pleads with God three times to take away the ‘thorn’ (metaphor for possible physical and emotional pain). God’s answer to Paul is “my grace is sufficient…”
God’s grace is sufficient. We do not have to give in to the dark world of depression. If we can believe that God has our backs and that God will not leave nor forsake us, we can inevitably survive hopelessness. 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 there is always opportunities to surviving hopeless 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 hope. You do not have to be super spiritual to get a breakthrough; God loves communion with folks, people who truly depend on the Creator for their total healing. 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 for your breakthrough.
The author is senior pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of Baltimore