Whatever reason you feel depressed today, know that the Lord of Glory cares about you and wants to powerfully bless your life.
There’s no question, depression impacts a lot of people, especially at Christmas. I probably could write an entire book on what the Bible says about depression because there’s not enough space here to share everything that needs to be said on the subject.
Many of the Bible’s greatest heroes encountered times when they were blue or depressed. Even Jesus Himself said shortly before going to the cross, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38). The apostle Paul also spoke of a very gloomy time in his life: “We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.” Paul eventually concluded there was a purpose in the trials he encountered: “That we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Sometimes people in the Scriptures expressed bewilderment about why they were experiencing what they were feeling. For example, The Message paraphrases Psalm 42:5: “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?” The psalmist is struggling to figure out why he’s feeling down when things were great just a short time before:
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd, right out in front, leading them all, eager to arrive and worship, shouting praises, singing thanksgiving – celebrating, all of us, God’s feast! (Psalm 42:4).
Maybe you can relate to what the psalmist is describing here. I sure can. Sometimes I’ve been on the mountaintop after preaching a powerful word from God, and only minutes later I’m down in the valley.
So what’s the solution when this happens? The psalmist gives us some tips:
Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you… Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God’s prayer (Psalm 42:5-8).
It’s not always easy to break loose from depression, but the psalmist is on the right track here. Instead of focusing on his melancholy state of mind, he turns his attention to the Lord and begins to rehearse his blessings.
He also makes a very important observation: His depression won’t last forever because God would soon put a smile on his face again. Nothing ousts depression faster than hope. When we recognize that a better day is ahead, depression loses its power over us.
Like the psalmist, Paul understood the need to focus on our blessings instead of on our negative circumstances:
Brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things…and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).
What an important reminder for all of us. Yes, we may face depressing circumstances at times. Paul was in prison when he wrote these words! But regardless of what may be happening around us, “the God of peace” will be with us when our eyes are on Him, and we put our attention on His blessings in our life.
One other lesson I’ve learned about depression is that it can have a variety of causes. If we incorrectly diagnose the source of our depression, we’ll be ineffective in treating it. Here are just a few of the causes of depression found in the Bible:
• Sin, disobedience, and rebellion We see this in the case of Cain, who was downcast after killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4:6-7).
• Physical causes, such as hunger, fatigue, or unbalanced hormones This happened to Elijah after he defeated the false prophets of Baal and was threatened by Jezebel (1 Kings 19:2-14). His depression improved after he got extra sleep, ate some food, and heard God’s voice again.
• Demonic attacks Isaiah 61:3 says God wants to give us a “garment of praise” to replace the “spirit of despair” (NIV). Satan has his demonic hordes working overtime to depress the people of God, especially during the time when we are celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Whatever the cause of our depression may be, the Lord wants to bring us healing, refreshing, and joy. We need to surround ourselves with friends who can encourage us in the Lord (1 Samuel 23:16). We also must learn how to encourage ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6) by coming into His presence and meditating on His Word.
Friend, I don’t know what kinds of difficult, depressing situations you may be facing this Christmas season. But I do know that God cares about you and can set you free from your depression when you cry out to Him.
One day King David found himself surrounded by problems:
Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God” (Psalm 3:1-2).
Perhaps you’re facing a similar experience, questioning whether God will come to your aid. David’s conclusion should be an encouragement for you to keep trusting God, even when you don’t see His answers right away:
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head (v. 3).
When the difficult circumstances of life weigh you down, God offers to come and lift up your head. In Jesus’ mighty name, your depression will have to leave!
Ben Cerullo has been named by Charisma Magazine as one of the “30 Emerging Voices” who will lead the church in the next decade. His ministry carries a powerful anointing and prophetic message. Traveling extensively, both domestically and internationally, he has spoken in more than 27 nations. God continues to use him to reach people with the Gospel, confirming His Word with signs following.
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