God—along with His inspired Word, the Bible—is the most powerful resource for combating depression. The Bible provides enlightenment and encouragement—tremendous help in depressing situations. Here are some examples.
The Bible acknowledges that depression can be debilitating. “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14 Proverbs 18:14The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
American King James Version×, New International Version).
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says about the same verse: “In physical sickness one can fall back on the will to live; but in depression the will to live may be gone, and there is no reserve for physical strength. The figure of a ‘crushed’ spirit suggests a broken will, loss of vitality, despair, and emotional pain. Few things in the human experience are as difficult to cope with as this” (Vol. 5, p. 1026).
The Scriptures can be particularly helpful when sin and the resulting guilt lie at the root of depression. The Bible shows how recovery begins: with repentance and forgiveness. The experience of David can enlighten:
“What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess them to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (Psalms 32:1-5 Psalms 32:1-5 1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledge my sin to you, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
American King James Version×, The Living Bible).
The Bible helps sufferers from depression brought on by anger. For example, the prophet Jonah grew angry (Jonah 4:1 Jonah 4:1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
American King James Version×) at his circumstances. Later we read that he is depressed and even wanting to die. “Then he wished death for himself, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live’ ” (verse 8)
But the Bible counsels us to put away anger: “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26 Ephesians 4:26Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath:
American King James Version×). It provides us with examples of men of God trusting in Him to recover from depression. “The Lord shall enlighten my darkness,” as David so eloquently stated (2 Samuel 22:29 2 Samuel 22:29For you are my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.
American King James Version×). David knew God would help.
The Bible gives good advice about a related problem: stress. Jesus Christ promised relief from the stresses of life. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 Matthew 11:28Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
Stress begets anxiety. Jesus gives advice for the anxious: “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 Matthew 6:34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
American King James Version×, New American Standard Version).
Don’t add to your stress by worrying about the complications you will face tomorrow and beyond. Live one day at a time.
The events, forces and circumstances of the world around us can negatively affect us in many ways. But we need not be controlled by them. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said; “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
American King James Version×). We can overcome the negative influences—the depressing aspects—of our world.
The Bible shows that depression can be induced by the spirit world. It presents Satan as having a major unseen influence on humanity. He and the demons are called “rulers of the darkness of this age” (Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
American King James Version×), swaying people with negative influences, inspiring destructive thoughts (Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
American King James Version×), which add to the spiritual influences we have to resist.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” the apostle Peter tells us. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9 1 Peter 5:8-9 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brothers that are in the world.
American King James Version×).
These are only a few of the many scriptures that can be helpful in overcoming discouragement and depression. The Psalms are filled with encouragement. Make a habit of using the Bible as your key source of spiritual strength.