Disclaimer: Yes, I am a Mental Health Professional, but I may not currently be your personal provider and this blog content does not create a provider-client relationship. This blog content is for educational purposes and should not be seen as medical advice. You should consult with your personal licensed mental health provider before you rely on this information.
Depression can cast a shadow that can be challenging to escape. At Renewed Integrative Counseling we aim to shed light on the signs of depression, explore its impact on individuals, and emphasize the importance of fostering hope in the face of despair through a biblical lens.
The Darkness Within:
Depression is more than feelings of sadness; it is a complex and pervasive mental health disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. The symptoms often extend beyond a low mood and may include feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, and a distorted perception of oneself and the world. The Bible does not use the word ‘depression.’ However, we do see people in the Bible experiencing great sorrow and despair. We see Paul, for example, discussing his despair in Philippians 1:20-30 and 2 Corinthians 4:7-9.
Understanding the Depths:
To comprehend the depths of depression, it is crucial to recognize many contributing factors. Biological factors, such as genetics and brain chemistry, play a role, as do environmental factors like trauma and chronic stress. Additionally, the stigma surrounding mental health issues can exacerbate feelings of isolation and contribute to feelings of worthlessness. Depression can often not be addressed within the church community leading to further isolation and questioning of faith in God.
The Grim Reality of Suicide:
Suicide is a tragic outcome of untreated and severe depression. It is essential to approach this topic with sensitivity, understanding that those who contemplate suicide are often overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness and despair. Encouraging open conversations about mental health, reducing stigma, and providing accessible support are crucial steps in preventing suicide.
So what does the Bible say about suicide?
There are 3 sections we can break this down into;
Those who have committed suicide: Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Judas (Matthew 27:5), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), etc.
Those who have despaired life and asked God to kill them or that they were not born: Job (Job 3), Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), Jonah (Jonah 4:3),
Paul desired death to be with Christ but suffered through life’s trials and tribulations to do God’s will by spreading the Gospel. (Philippians 1:20-30)
While the journey through depression may seem daunting, fostering hope is a powerful antidote to despair. Individuals experiencing depression should seek professional help, as therapy can provide effective avenues for recovery. Support from loved ones, combined with self-care practices and lifestyle changes, can also contribute to the healing process.
Above all, we should seek God. In group 1 mentioned above people like Saul, Judas, and Zimri consistently disobeyed God and never sought His help. We see with Job, God granting his request to speak personally to Him and He laid out His sovereignty to Job (Job 38-41). Job mourns his disobedience and repents (Job 42:1-6). Elijah asks for death and is given a place to sleep and eat instead (1 Kings 19:5-8). Jonah is given shade and understanding in his misplaced anger (Jonah 4:4-11). Group 2 teaches us to ultimately go to God with our deepest sorrows and He will provide comfort. Paul is a great example of someone who trusted God to comfort him in his afflictions and used that same comfort to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4-6). Paul trusted in God’s will for his ministry on earth and knew that this affliction on earth would be fleeting as we spend eternal life with Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
How can we know when to go to God?
We can trust in the Holy Spirit to show our weakness. When we are confused about what to say or to ask God, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). Our God is an approachable God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We can trust Him with our depression, despair, suicidal thoughts, and so much more.
Breaking the Silence:
Creating a society where open conversations about mental health are encouraged is vital in breaking the silence surrounding depression and suicide. Dispelling myths, sharing personal stories, and offering empathy can contribute to a culture that prioritizes mental well-being.
Depression and suicidal thoughts are not insurmountable. By seeking God, understanding the complexities of depression, fostering hope, and breaking the silence surrounding mental health, we can collectively contribute to a world where individuals are supported on their journey toward healing and recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help, because in the darkest moments, there is still the potential for light.
“For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 4:6