“Raise your hand if you currently suffer from depression.” This was the instruction that the pastor gave as he stood in front of the congregation. The sanctuary grew quiet. Hands began to gradually rise and people started looking around.
Some of those with their hand in the air looked a bit uneasy and uncomfortable. On the faces of others, there was an eager look of desperation as they seemed to long for an opportunity – any opportunity to be free.
Just a quick glance around the room at the number of hands raised would be enough to make any heart grow heavy. These were individuals of various nationalities, ages, and backgrounds. No group was excluded.
After everyone finished shuffling around the room to go and lay a hand on their neighbor, the church began to solemnly pray.
What is Depression?
Many people suffer from depression. It is an illness characterized by feelings of sadness, miserable mood, and a loss of interest in life or certain activities. It negatively effects the way a person thinks, acts, and feels.
Psychiatry.org estimates that one in 15 adults suffer from depression in any given year, and one in six people are estimated to experience depression sometime within their life.
Depression is a thief and a silent killer. It quietly kills a person’s joy, peace, and motivation, and it robs them of their time, dreams, and depending on its severity, it can rob them of their very life.Depression is a thief and a silent killer. It quietly kills a person's joy, peace, and motivation, and it robs them of their time, dreams, and depending on its severity, it can rob them of their very life. Click To Tweet
Some sufferers may find themselves trying to fill the empty hole of depression with material things and pleasures of the flesh, believing these things will make them better.
But in reality, this is only placing a band-aid on a wound that refuses to heal.
These things provide a temporary cover-up, but they don’t bring about healing or a solution. In some cases, they can even make the depression worse.
Who Does it Effect?
Depression is no respecter of persons.
Your close friend, a family member, a co-worker, a young child, the guy or girl walking down the street who looks like they have it all together, could be suffering from depression.
What’s most saddening, is that there’s an increase in the number of young children taking their own lives, as a result of this illness.
It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, black, white, yellow, or brown; depression can affect anyone — even a devout Christian.
How Does A Person Become Depressed?
So, how does a person become depressed? Well, for some of us, it’s the result of a hormone or chemical imbalance. Those persons are especially encouraged to seek professional help if needed, and to not be ashamed in doing so.
For others, our current situation and circumstances could be the culprit, and for those remaining, it may be a combination of all these things.
In children and teens, it can also result from being bullied or from feeling a need to fit in, while constantly suffering peer rejection.
This can lower their self-esteem and lead them to believe they don’t fit in anywhere. They may begin to isolate themselves and the more they do, the more they feel alone, and the worse the situation becomes.
Many factors could play a role in the cause of depression but one thing is certain – it’s not a figment of a person’s imagination, but it’s as real as AIDS or cancer.
A person with depression or any mental illness, should not be shamed nor belittled, since this behavior would not be tolerated towards a person suffering with any other illness or disease.
Just as Jesus stretched out His compassionate hand to touch the leper, as the body of Christ we are expected to stretch out our hand and extend grace, not judgement, to those who are hurting.
There is Help. There is Hope.
The good thing is, God is not partial to healing only certain illnesses and diseases. If He can heal one, He can heal them all.
When the Lord calls us, He gives us a new life and a purpose. We receive an unspeakable joy that this world can never take away, no matter how hard it tries.
This is not to say that those feelings of darkness won’t try to creep up on us every now and then, to interrupt that joy. Surely, there’s no way the enemy will ever give up.
However, whereas we used to curl up and sink down into a deep, dark , hole – sitting there hopelessly while the rains of depression beat down on our heads, now we have the ability to stand.
We can find shelter under the blood of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going, but God’s grace makes it possible for us to pick up and press on.
He has not left us powerless. We have weapons we can fight with. Those weapons are the word of God and prayer, and the Holy Spirit who empowers us to wield them.
God is a faithful God. He knows how to bring us out.
So, if you’re a Christian currently suffering from depression, or if you experience periodic depression, just know this: you are not crazy, you are not hopeless, and you are not alone.
You are more than a conqueror and you will overcome through the power of Jesus Christ.
So to conclude, although it could be a cause in some cases, depression does not necessarily mean that one lacks faith.
There are various causes of this illness including medical reasons which are beyond our control. A conversation between you and Jesus, and possibly your healthcare provider, will be the only way to figure out where it stems from.
But, regardless of the reason, suffering from depression doesn’t make you any less of a Christian, just as a battle with diabetes, Dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other illness doesn’t undermine one’s relationship with God. Even some of the greatest prophets in the Bible experienced times of depression, but they were still great men of God.
That being said, your condition should not be ignored but should be treated and managed just as any other illness. Whether it’s with medication or an increase in faith. Seek the Lord for help, direction, and guidance. Never stop believing Him for your complete and total healing.
He loves you and He wants to help you. He will lead you to a scripture, to a doctor, to a friend, or to whatever it is you need in your specific situation.
Trust in the Lord, my dear friend. Your help is on the way.
Please, just don’t give up.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
“What Is Depression?”, American Psychiatric Association, 2017, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.