3 Characteristics of Depression in the Bible

I saw someone share a post on social media the other day that countered the saying, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” It explained that, sometimes, we are given more than we can handle because it is in those moments that we are to lean on God for strength to get through our circumstances.

There are many circumstances that are crippling, suffocating, and paralyzing, that render us incapable of making it through on our own. What happens when these situations come into our lives? How can we get through these seasons of overwhelming fear, doubt, and depression? Perhaps you already know the stories of Job, Naomi, David, and Elijah, but I hope today’s post and exploration of depression in the Bible is a reminder to you that you are never alone in your struggles.

Without further ado, we’ll dive into three aspects of depression as addressed in the Bible and explore how we can recognize, understand, and find helpful solutions in seasons of depression.

1) A Bitter Feeling, A Miserable Existence

“I’m nothing. I don’t matter.”

Maybe you’ve said these words to yourself at some point in your life – lies that the enemy of our soul tries to make us believe when we’re vulnerable. Both of these statements and every iteration are complete lies straight from the devil, but it’s easy to convince yourself of them.

“I’m nothing,” I once thought, but then God reminded me I’m not.

Did I die for nothing?

No, He didn’t. He died for me. He died for you, and He cares for you more than you could ever fathom. You are not “nothing.” But sometimes, the feeling of depression and misery is overwhelming, temporarily keeping you from believing the truth.

We may even come to hate ourselves and hate our lives. Job’s monologues implied that he suffered from such misery:

“My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job 10:1 KJV

Naomi, after losing her husband and her sons, asked to be called “Mara,” which means “bitter” (see Ruth 1:20). We know that David experienced much emotional imbalance stemming from the traumas he faced and mistakes he made in his life:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel…But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”
Psalms 22:1-3, 6 KJV

David constantly went from lamenting his situation to praising the Lord to feeling abandoned by God to declaring his trust in Him. Many who suffer from depression struggle with this kind of emotional imbalance. They seem to be up and down. Fine one day and at rock bottom the next. Living life on an emotional roller coaster breeds more misery and exhaustion. When we rely on our feelings to determine what judgments to make about our lives and ourselves, we’ll be prone to emotional instability and dissatisfaction with life.

2) Isolation and Silence

“I just want to be alone, to go somewhere no one knows me, and live alone with my thoughts.”

Maybe you’ve had this thought before. There are certainly benefits to having alone time, and when we go through difficult times, we need moments to sort out our thoughts and be with God. But too much isolation and silence can also prevent us from processing grief or difficult situations in a healthy way and keep up from moving forward. Nevertheless, we see isolation and silence as symptoms depression or grief in the Bible as well. When Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life, he left his servant at Beer-Sheba and traveled alone into the wilderness (see 1 Kings 19:1-4). Job went silent for seven days after losing his family:

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
Job 2:13 KJV

Being unable to speak is a sign of deep emotional stress, and isolating yourself with your thoughts in this time can be even more dangerous. If we don’t allow ourselves to seek after God in these moments, then we may become lost in thoughts of hopelessness and, even worse, suicide.

3) Wishing for Death

“God, I can’t do this anymore. Just take me.”

Maybe this thought has crossed your mind as well. To many, death seems like the only way to no longer feel the pain of loss or the emotional stress of financial struggles, family turmoil, or physical illness. I’ll admit I had this thought once when I was sick with undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes and felt purely miserable, like I was dying. And I had this thought again when faced with the possibility of having no income and no medical insurance. The stress and fear were overwhelming. In a moment of emotional and mental exhaustion, I just didn’t want to feel like that anymore. For me, the thought of asking God to take my life and get it over with was a fleeting one, but for many, this thought is a constant mindset as depression weighs heavily on their souls.

In biblical times, certain accounts show people who also experienced these feelings or wishing for death. We read in Job that he wished he had not even been born:

“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived…Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”
Job 3:3, 11 KJV
“Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.”
Job 6:8-10 KJV

Elijah also wished God would take his life:

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
1 Kings 19:4 KJV

As Carlton Coon wrote in his book Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression, Elijah “was not having a blue day” (Coon 37). Wishing for death and isolating oneself are signs that someone is suffering from depression. This person doesn’t see a way out. They don’t see any value in their life anymore. They feel less than. They feel worthless.

But Jesus is the Path through dark times.

Each of these people – Job, Naomi, Elijah, and David – continued to live for God even when they experienced hardship and suffered from symptoms of depression. Though there were times when David felt alone, he continued to seek God. Though Job wished for death and lamented in his grief, he maintained reverence for God: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter upon the earth” (Job 19:25 KJV). From reading about the emotional struggles of important biblical figures, we can understand that these mental battles are not unique to our time. If they could overcome and survive bouts of depression, so can we. It is the same merciful God who spoke to and comforted them who will speak to and comfort you and me today.

In every mental or emotional struggle you may face, don’t stop talking to God, and don’t stop listening for His voice.

No matter what, we cannot discount the importance of making prayer and Bible studying our daily lifestyle because it is in those dark times that we will need to rely on our walk with God all the more.

“Before You Curse the Rain” and Other Poems by Camrie Houck

Before You Curse the Rain

Before you curse the rain for daring to
visit,
The raindrop for plopping onto your head,
Remember,
Every drop that descends from the sky,
often to your dread,
Is a reminder of every promise of God.
Just like every raindrop waters the grass,
Bringing forth the springtime bud,
So is every promise.
A word of God descending, falling, and watering.
And in due time, it too will bring forth the new bud of
the old promise.

Closer to the Cross

With every stride, I want to be closer to the cross.

Life isn’t perfect, sometimes far from it.

I don’t want to be number one; I don’t want to be boss.

I’m not perfect, but I’m not about to quit.

 

Life isn’t perfect, sometimes far from it.

My spirit is willing, my flesh is carried off by every whim.

I’m not perfect, but I’m not about to quit.

Less of me, more of Him.

 

My spirit is willing, my flesh is carried off by every whim.

I’m disciplining myself with fierce focus.

Less of me, more of Him.

Fear and the devil have the world all hocus-pocus.

 

I’m disciplining myself with fierce focus.

Losing our version of fun, it’s no loss.

Fear and the devil have the world all hocus-pocus.

With every stride, I want to be closer to the cross.

The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made

Falling in love with Jesus, the best decision I’ve ever made.

Sunshine and rainbows, it’s not.

It’s a bright spot in this world through which we must wade

With sacrifice and blood, it was bought.

 

Sunshine and rainbows, it’s not.

It’s peace in the midst of a violent storm

With sacrifice and blood, it was bought,

Desiring to be close to him and in my proper form.

 

Its peace in the midst of a violent storm,

Crashing waves, rolling squall lines, still Jesus has not left my boat.

Desiring to be close to him and in my proper form,

Reading and Praying, this time not by rote.

 

Crashing waves, rolling squall lines, still Jesus has not left my boat.

I’m not doing this for some more achievement; it’s not for a grade.

Reading and Praying, this time not by rote.

Falling in love with Jesus, the best decision I’ve ever made.

*****

Today’s guest post was written by the wonderfully talented Camrie Houck. Be sure to check out her past guest post on BPR here! You can also follow along with her writing on her Instagram blog @camrie_writes!

Navigating a Season of Depression

Depression.

We’ve all been there. Whether we’ve lost a loved one or suffered another kind of loss or setback, most of us know what it is like to struggle with feelings of depression. But depression affects us all differently and to varying degrees.

I’ve been reading Rev. Carlton Coon’s book Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression, and I wanted to share some important points with you from Encountering Depression that may help you or someone you love learn how to navigate depression.

1. There is significance in variety.

As I stated in the intro of this post, depression affects us all to different degrees. Reverend Coon references everything from mild seasons of depression or grief to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), which we used to call clinical depression (Coon 21). Below are some examples of the common ways depression affects people:

  • Increased isolation
  • Disinterest in normal activities
  • No appetite
  • Brain fog
  • Increased tiredness
  • Decreased sense of self-worth
  • Anger
  • Suicidal thoughts

There are many more ways depression can affect a person’s mood or lifestyle, but the variance in how we experience depression is significant. We in the community of people who want to increase awareness of mental health issues and help others understand them may forget that there are people out there who still dismiss mental illness and believe depression to be a figment of the imagination. Those who have experienced depression or have a loved one or friend who has know otherwise.

No two people are exactly alike in every conceivable way, and depression’s different effects on us are proof of that. You may become angry and lash out at others when suffering from depression, but someone else might feel intensely sad or simply numb. These different experiences further prove that mental health and mental health issues need to be discussed all the more so that everyone can recognize whether they or someone they know is experiencing a serious mental health problem and find healthy solutions to get through it. The differences in how depression affects everyone who suffers from it do not take away from the seriousness of this disease but instead show that no person’s experience with depression should be dismissed or belittled.

2. There is healing in simplicity.

Just as there is variety in how depression grips each person who experiences it, there is also variety in how a person should respond to and navigate this difficult season. In Encountering Depression, Reverend Coon emphasizes balance and simplicity. If a person is emotionally balanced, then depression is less likely to overwhelm them (Coon 62). Too much on one’s plate is often a recipe for becoming overwhelmed, which is why simplifying one’s routine may prove beneficial. As Coon states, dealing with too much “leads to exhaustion, which is a fertile field in which depression often takes root” (Coon 82).

Consider the following tips for simplifying your routine and engaging in activities that may help you navigate depression:

  • Remove yourself from non-essential projects and activities.
  • Get yourself outside and go for nature walks.
  • Take a break from social media.
  • Set a simple daily routine.
  • Take time to rest.

There is a reason we need rest so much. As imperfect humans, our minds and bodies can only take so much before we become weary. An overloaded mind and body often results in burnout and feeds depression. We must take time regularly to unplug, get outside, remove ourselves from activities that may be weighing us down, and give ourselves time to breathe, pray, and repeat.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.“

Matthew 11:28 KJV

Just breathe. Just pray. Rest. Read the Word. And repeat the process.

And we know that getting through a season of depression is a p r o c e s s. But it is doable by learning how to understand what we’re experiencing and why, finding healthy ways to get through it, and finding rest and strength in God’s presence.

“To God, who divided dark from light, the darkness and light are both essential to His creation. Endure the darkness – in time the dawn will come.”

Reverend Carlton Coon, Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression

Reference:

Coon Sr., Carlton L. Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression. 2019.

What Does “Jesus Over Everything” Mean?

“Jesus over everything,” you say as you forget to spend time with Him that day.

You say you put Him first, but you spend half the day without a word in prayer. Then, you pray, but you’re distracted.

What is it that’s consumed your attention? Your Instagram account? Tik Tok? The news? Or perhaps it’s the load of laundry you still need to put on? Maybe it’s the garage that needs cleaned out, or the yard that needs mowing, or the half a dozen other projects you still have left to do.

So, what then, does Jesus over everything mean to you? Does it mean Jesus over everything, except your “me time?” Does it mean Jesus over everything, except your house chores? Does it mean Jesus over everything, except your job or your family? What do you think everything means? Oxford defines it as “all things; every single thing.”

That’s what it takes to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. Putting Him above all things, above every single thing in your life.

The rich man left Jesus in sorrow because he couldn’t put Jesus above his riches (see Matthew 19:16-24).

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Mark 8:36 KJV

Others couldn’t put Him above their family.

“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:59-62 KJV

So what can’t you put aside to follow Jesus? What is keeping you from giving Him everything?

If you want to get closer to Jesus, He must come first. His Kingdom must be your number one priority in life.

He created you to worship Him and reach the lost. Other things in this life are important, yes, but He has promised to supply all your needs. If you want to follow Him, you must trust Him to take care of you. If you want to follow Him, you must give Him your sacrifice of time and sacrifice of praise.

He must matter more to you than earthly gain. To see His face in glory, Jesus must stand first in your life over everything.

Until then, all your words and efforts are in vain and your promises empty.

Is “Jesus over everything” a daily declaration to you? Or is it an empty phrase you use to fool yourself into thinking you put Jesus first while you really serve the world or yourself?

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15 KJV

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalm 139:23-24 KJV

2 Reasons Why You Can’t Hear God’s Voice

Are you paying attention?

We all experience moments when we wonder why we can’t hear the voice of God in our lives. Prayer is two-way communication—our prayers going up to God and His voice coming down to us. Just like in any relationship, there can’t be any development when only one person talks the entire time and the other person only ever listens. We must give space for God to speak to us in our lives. Sometimes, however, we may still feel unable to hear Him or connect with His voice.

What’s wrong with me? you may wonder. Has God left me? Am I all alone? Does God hate me?

The answer may not seem so, but it is simple. No, God hasn’t left you, for He never leaves nor forsakes us. No, God doesn’t hate you, for nothing can separate you from His unending love for you. Today, we’re going to look at two simple reasons why you may not be able to hear the voice of God in your life.

But first, let’s check out the text for today’s blog post:

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”

Romans 1:1-4 (KJV)

Now, you might be wondering what this passage has to do with hearing God’s voice. Bear with me a moment as we begin with the first thing that can block you from hearing God.

1) Distractions – Too Much Noise

Have you ever been praying somewhere in your house away from your family when suddenly you hear them stomping around in the hallway or kitchen, seemingly banging on pots and pans like wild chimpanzees? The noise becomes so distracting that it pulls you away from your thoughts and focus on God until all you can think about is how annoying your family is. It’s hard to get back into focused prayer when there’s a lot of noise going on. It’s hard to listen to what God is saying when your thoughts are somewhere else.

In the beginning of Romans, we read that the prophecy of Jesus Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection were revealed to the prophets of the Old Testament. Verse 2 states that God promised this “afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.” This shows that God is in communication with His people and that He gave us the promise of deliverance and salvation. Unfortunately, there are always those who are not paying attention to the prophecy.

People who are paying attention when God speaks will receive the promise and His blessings. People who are paying attention act on the promise and become messengers of the Gospel. Others do not receive because they are too distracted with other voices in the world—noises like the lies the enemy tells them or the sounds of society’s praise when they give into the pressure to embrace the lifestyle of the world that will only lead them to destruction and emptiness.

What sounds are you allowing to distract you from hearing God? Are you struggling with depression and the voice of the enemy lying to you, telling you that you can’t be used of God, that God doesn’t love you anymore, that you’ve gone too far from His presence? Are you investing more of your time in entertainment, social media, or fitting in with your friends or coworkers who don’t live for God? Are you weary and burdened with financial struggles, relationship problems, or a busy schedule? Are you constantly worried about political issues and the direction society is headed?

Whatever issue you might be facing, you allow it to prevent you from hearing God’s voice when you give more space in your mind to those thoughts than to thoughts that please God.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

When your thoughts become too distracted, try this exercise: write down one thing for each description in Philippians 4:8 (something that is true, something that is honest, something that is just, etcetera) that counters your negative, distracted thoughts and then take some time to praise God for His goodness. You might find that this will help you focus your mind on Him so that you can tune into His voice.

2) Denial – “That Wasn’t God”

Another reason people do not hear the voice of God is that they are in denial.

God told people about His coming through prophecies, but many did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. Even though God speaks to and through His people of His plans and of salvation, there will still be those who are not moved and who do not believe. Instead, they deny the truth and dismiss His voice.

You’ve heard the saying, “the truth hurts.” The truth in Scripture and God’s words do hurt the flesh, the carnal nature that only wants to please itself. The voice of God may seem inconvenient to the flesh, depriving many of getting something their flesh wants or shining a light on things in their life that they’ve kept hidden from others.

For those who choose the way of the world, the truth is not convenient. The coming of Jesus Christ and His words brought the sins of many pious Jews to light. Not only did they ignore prophecy, but they sought to kill Jesus.

For those who prefer to listen to the voice of their flesh, the voice of God isn’t comfortable. The disciples were focused on their own desires in seeing the Romans overthrown and reestablishing the kingdom of Israel, and the truth that Jesus didn’t come for that reason was hard for them to accept. Matthew 16:22 states that Peter began to rebuke Jesus for saying He would be killed:

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day, then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Matthew 16:21-23 (KJV)

Jesus called Peter “Satan” for denying the truth and savoring, or entertaining, the things of man, or of the flesh. Jesus has called us to instead deny ourselves and follow Him (see Matthew 16:24).

Often in our lives, we might hear the truth or the voice of God, and because we are feeding our flesh too much, we deny that it’s the truth. We deny that we really heard from God. Have you ever felt conviction when your Pastor was preaching or during prayer and then immediately thought, “That wasn’t for me. That wasn’t God?”

The more we deny the truth, the more we delay His promise. The more we fill our minds with noise, the more we forget what His voice sounds like. We are called to be ambassadors and messengers of the truth to this lost world. Through Christ, we are more than conquerors of the struggles that we may face. We have a purpose and a promise.

Don’t let distractions and denial keep you from receiving that promise of salvation and walking in His purpose and calling for your life. Jesus is calling you to something greater than you could ever imagine. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours.

It’s time to turn off the noise, deny the flesh, and tune into the voice of the Lord.

The Freedom We Take For Granted

Today marks 246 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence when America declared its freedom and independence. Since that day, the United States has stood as a beacon of liberty and hope for people across the world. We’re a blessed nation with countless freedoms many other nations don’t have the privilege to enjoy, but one of our most important freedoms is often taken for granted—the freedom to live for God.

The U.S. has religious liberty, so we can choose to serve and worship however we want. There are many different observed religions in America from Christianity to Catholicism (yes, they’re different), from Judaism to Islam. We are free to worship as we please, which has, however, created a society that takes this freedom for granted.

Too many people are lazy and refuse to come to church every week. Too many people take the freedom to live for God for granted when there are many countries that do not allow its citizens to worship freely. Churches in many countries do not have the freedom to meet in public, and people are persecuted and murdered for worshipping Jesus Christ.

In contrast with persecuted Christians across the world, there are too many comfortable Americans who give God half-hearted worship. These people run after the world rather than God. Many Christians today think of church as a social club instead of the body of Christ. They disregard the mission to save souls, they use ministry as a launching pad for their carnal desires, and they participate only to perform rather than to serve.

Church has become a concert.

Servanthood has become an act.

What happens when the American society doesn’t take advantage of their God-given freedom, a freedom that men and women have fought and died to preserve? A 2020 Gallup poll revealed that only 47% of Americans said they belong to a church, and another poll revealed that the percentage of Americans who believe in God has dropped to 81%. This may still seem like a high percentage, but it is down from 87% in a 2017 poll, and it is the lowest number of the past 80 years.

Young people are leaving church left and right. Adults get offended and quit church. The online church culture has seeped in and created a group of so-called Christians who take advantage of online services every time they are tired, had a long week, stayed out too late on a Saturday night, or simply just don’t feel like going to church.

If you don’t fight for freedom, the enemy will defeat you. We have to fight our flesh to exercise the freedom to worship and live for God. We cannot procrastinate on living for God.

Don’t let freedom to live for God make you a lazy Christian. Don’t let laziness rob you of a relationship with God. Don’t let comfort keep you from pursuing God. Don’t let convenience prevent you from being active in the Kingdom of God. Don’t let procrastination pull you from your purpose.

Instead, let freedom embolden you to dive deeper into your relationship with Jesus. Let the ability to meet in a church building every Sunday and Wednesday compel you to be more active in ministry and servanthood. Let the opportunities and resources that God has given you drive you to reach others with the Gospel.

In Galatians, Paul spoke of not being entangled with the yoke of bondage but instead of standing fast “in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Galatians 5:1). Many Galatians wanted to return to the Mosaic Law. They preferred tradition—comfort or convenience, if you will—over following Christ’s teachings. The Law did not make them righteous or justified, however. It is only through Christ and His death and resurrection that we were justified and made free, and we cannot take this freedom we have in Christ lightly.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:13 (KJV)

Not only is it our God-given right to serve Him freely, but it is our duty to use the liberty that we have to love and serve others and to reach them with the Gospel of Christ.

Today, more than ever, we must take advantage of the freedom we have to worship God and give Him everything we have because He’s given us as Americans everything we need—a path to salvation (see Acts 2) and a free country. We as a nation must turn back to God and grow the Church.

May God bless you and your family and church, and may God bless America!

Happy Independence Day!