Depression can make you feel sad, hopeless, and alone. Yet as many as 19 million American men and women are suffering from depression as you read this. It is not uncommon. Even in the Bible.
The Bible is frank about both the depths of human despair, and the root cause of unrelenting sadness.
Depression Is Common
If you suffer from depression, you are not alone. In despair, David cried out to the Lord saying,
"How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" (Psalm 13:1-2)
With even more emotion, Jeremiah cried out in prayer after he was beaten by a priest of Israel for boldly declaring the word of the Lord:
"Cursed be the day
on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
let it not be blessed! … Why did I come out from the womb
to see toil and sorrow,
and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah 20:14, 18)
In despair over the coming judgment Jeremiah said, "My joy is gone; grief is upon me; my heart is sick within me" (8:18).
Depression Is a Signal
Feeling depressed signals sorrow over something. And sorrow, deep grief, and yes—even depression over wickedness, sin, suffering, and death—is often fitting. It tells us we are human.
There is much to be learned in the presence of deep sorrow. Solomon wrote, "It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad" (Ecclesiastes 7:2-3).
How to Respond
What should you do if you are suffering from depression? Call out to God, who "is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" Psalm 64:1. In Psalm 42 David famously lamented, saying,
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
"Where is your God?"
Then he remembered, saying,
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you (4, 6)
Finally, he preached to himself, saying,
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. (5, 11)
This Psalm provides a pattern for our prayerful response in the midst of depression.
It may not be soon, it may not even be in this life. But relief from God will come for those who cling to Him.
Get Help if Severe
Often, feelings of depression are the natural (even healthy) result of loss, tragedy, abuse or other life circumstances. But there are times when we may experience prolonged, chronic depression that could be signs of a physiological ailment or a deep spiritual conflict. If you suspect this is the case in your situation it is a good idea to seek help from a trusted pastor, counselor, or doctor who can help diagnose the problem or rule out less obvious possibilities.