This brings us to the end of our attempt to discover a Scriptural framework within which to understand how believers should think about and react to depression. Along the way we have examined a number of Scriptural case studies of depressed people (whether they all would qualify as what we would refer to as “clinical depression” or not doesn’t matter). We have examined a number of passages that speak directly to the issue of depression. We have examined a number of passages that teach about trials in the Christian life, among which depression in all its forms may be included. And, finally, we have examined a number of passages that teach about the joy God promises to believers even in the midst of the most difficult trials.I hope it has become clear to all of us that depression is not viewed in Scripture as a problem that should rob us of our joy or even necessarily diminish our joy. Indeed, quite the opposite is true. Depression can actually be a tremendous opportunity for growth in our walk with Christ and for a greater and deeper experience of the joy of the Lord than we might otherwise have known. It is also thus a tremendous opportunity to be a better witness for Christ as people see in us a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) and a joy that is “inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8), one that does not depend upon our circumstances.
In fact, because we are created in God’s image we are also at times capable of experiencing a number of emotions at once, such as when we experience a mixture of both sorrow and joy upon the death of a loved one in Christ. Because we do not sorrow as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13), we may experience the joy that such hope brings even in the midst of great sorrow. So it shouldn’t surprise us that a depressed believer may know peace and joy in spite of or in the midst of his or her battle with depression.
Now, all of this will no doubt sound like nonsense to unbelievers – or perhaps even to believers who take their cues more from pop psychology than from Scripture – but it is true nonetheless. And the sooner believers begin to realize this the better it will be for them as individuals and for the Church as a whole.
*Note: I do not intend to imply that there is no proper role for medication when dealing with people who suffer from depression due to some physical problem, whether it be a physical problem with the brain or a chronic ailment which may bring depression in its wake (such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, for example). I am, however, suspicious of many diagnoses of depression and of the overuse of medication. And I do not believe that a Christian should ever substitute mood altering drugs for dependence upon the Spirit in any case.