Depression can be symptomatic of the deep desolation of our hearts. We are capable of fearing we’ll never again know happiness, and many who love God have suffered from such dread. God’s grace, His promise to never forsake us, His sustaining presence, and His promise of a plan for our good are always part of the cure; sometimes therapy and medication can also play significant roles.
I’ve known a few people with perpetually sunny dispositions, but my own nature is reflective and, at times, melancholic. I’ve experienced seasons of depression, both before and since coming to faith in Christ—some due to my personality type and emotional makeup (and perhaps genetics), some triggered by my long-term physical illness (insulin-dependent diabetes), and some the result of adverse circumstances.
I share in my book Happiness how as a teenager, before knowing God, I had nothing much to fight it with. Now I have far better tools—first and foremost an awareness of the presence and grace of God. I thank Him that as the years have gone on, He has enabled me to experience more frequent times of happiness even in the midst of difficulties. God’s gift of laughter is a huge part of that; in fact, sometimes it’s like a ladder that helps me climb out of deep holes. A close friend once told me, “I always know when you’re hurting. You joke and laugh more.” (Again, there are medications that help some people, and I’m grateful for that, as they’re part of His common grace.)
When I blogged about my depression several years ago, a few people expressed shock that someone who had written about subjects such as grace and Heaven could ever be depressed! I had to laugh, since far better people than I have experienced far worse depression, including Martin Luther, John Owen, and William Cowper, to name a few.
Here are the posts I wrote about Charles Spurgeon’s experience with depression, which many readers have found helpful:
Depression, Gratitude and Charles Haddon Spurgeon
More on Depression in the Christian Life and Ministry (with Citations from Charles Spurgeon)
Third (and Final) on Spurgeon, Ministry and Depression
Also see Shedding Light on Depression and Thoughts of Suicide.
A few years ago I recorded this ten-minute video with Desiring God’s David Mathis about some things I learned while experiencing depression.
Finally, if you’re depressed, or if you have a friend or a family member who’s dealing with depression, check out David Murray’s helpful article 8 Ways to Help Depressed Christians.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.