Did you know that some of the most famous people in the Bible suffered from anxiety and depression? Until a few years ago, I had no notion of this amazing fact. I had no inkling that anyone in the Bible suffered from mental illness. I mean, why would they? Weren’t they free of any terrible maladies? Didn’t God keep his most faithful in perfect health?
I had the habit of treating people like Noah or David like they were superhuman. Sure, David wrote several poems in the book of Psalms that were about sadness and grief, but everyone has the blues every once in awhile. He wasn’t depressed; he was just sad. Right? Right?
- Jeremiah was known as “The Weeping Prophet.”
- King Solomon suffered from deep depression.
- Elijah suffered great anxiety when Jezebel sought revenge against him.
- Even Jesus may have been depressed at times, especially when his friend John the Baptist was beheaded.
I could go on and on about those in the Bible who were depressed (Job was perhaps the one who suffered depression the most, and with good reason), but just knowing that people in the Bible were depressed doesn’t help us. What God has to say on the matter does.
I looked up some answers to questions about what the Bible says about anxiety and depression in a book called “Answers to Questions About Adversity” by Dr. David Jeremiah. Some of you may know him from TV or his radio program. He’s well-known in Christian circles, and he has personally suffered anxiety and depression.
Here are some of the questions and answers he writes about:
Is it a sin for Christians to be depressed?
“There are some who believe a Christian should never suffer from depression. But that is incorrect. The lines between sad, discouraged, depressed, and similar conditions are too fuzzy to say a Christian can be discouraged but not depressed, or sad but not depressed. The reality is, depression afflicts many people, Christians included. Many biblical characters exhibited signs that would likely be classified as depression using modern definition…
…There are moments in life when our souls are sad. It is not a sin to experience depression as a Christian, though it is possible that depression could be linked to underlying, unconfessed sin. When we are disquieted in our soul, we are counseled to ‘hope in God’ (Psalm 43:5). With God’s help, Christians can successfully weather the storms of life – even depression…”
This goes for everyone. It isn’t a sin for anybody to be depressed. It’s not wrong, and God isn’t going to condemn you as weak or incapable. He’s there to lean on in times of trouble. He’s not going to abandon you because you’re feeling down, and nobody should berate you with having a “lack of faith” for suffering depression or anxiety. You’re human. People need to realize that.
How can I eliminate depression in my life?
“With God’s help, you can make inroads to eliminating depression from your life. Here are some steps to take when battling depression:
- Engage: You must see depression as an enemy and engage it; you must battle it. Whatever the cause or source of depression, it is not from God; He does not want you to be cast down. You must engage depression actively, not wait for it to disappear passively. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and gird you with His power and wisdom in this battle.
- Eliminate: Eliminate any identifiable possible source of the depression, including medical reasons by a checkup with your doctor. Is there unconfessed sin? Have you been hurt by another person? Is there bitterness, anger, envy or discontentment? By eliminating causes — with the help of a trusted counselor, if needed — you may discover the cause.
- Exercise: Regular physical exercise (check with your doctor if necessary) releases hormones into the body that have a positive effect — like the “runner’s high.” The cardiovascular benefit of increased blood flow means more oxygen to the brain, providing clarity and energy. In addition to exercising physically, make sure you are exercising spiritually: regular prayer, Bible study, worship, and interaction with others is part of a healthy Christian lifestyle…”
Although it may be incredibly difficult to “battle” depression, it’s something we have to do. Whether that’s on our own, or with the help of a family member, friend or therapist, it still needs to be done. I will say this: it’s a lot easier to fight mental illness with a mental health support group. You can read about my mental health support group here.
I’ll continue on this subject in one of my next blog posts (if not the very next one). I would normally provide you with a link where you can buy David’s book, but apparently it was a real hot-seller. I can’t find it anywhere, even on Ebay. I’ll try to do some more in-depth online searching to find somewhere where you can buy it, but I make no promises of results.
In the meantime, I’ll work on getting more Q & A typed up so you can read some of it here!
Dear Turning Point Ministries: Please don’t sue me for copyright infringement. This is for commentary purposes only, and I’m not going to type up your entire book. That would take forever, and I just don’t have the patience. Thanks.