After discussing these articles with some of my church family yesterday, I felt it would be wise to provide an index of all my posts concerning depression so that they will be easier to find. The impetus for the series was my post concerning How the Lord Shepherded Me Through My Wife’s Battle With Ovarian Cancer. In this post I spoke of my battles with depression, and the response to this post, together with a request by of the members of my church family at Immanuel Baptist Church, led to my teaching on the subject and to a whole series of blog posts entitled “Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression.”
The series is essentially just a chronicle of my own journey through the Scriptures over the years as I have dealt with depression and have tried to help others who struggle with the same problem. Here is the list of posts in order:
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Introduction (This articles lays out the direction of the series and gives an important caveat.)
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Case Study #1 (This article examines the case of Cain.)
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Case Study #3 (This article examines the case of Moses.)
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Case Study #4 (This article examines the case of David.)
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Case Study #5 (This article examines the case of Elijah.)
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Case Study #6 (This article examines the case of Jeremiah, assuming that he is the author of Lamentations, which is the focus of the discussion.)
Toward a Biblical Perspective on Depression: Case Study #7 (This article examines the case of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who endured depression as a part of the sufferings He underwent as our great High Priest.)
Here is the way I concluded my final article, which should give a sense of the focus of whole series:
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.
I hope the readers of this blog will continue to find these articles helpful as they seek to serve our Lord Jesus Christ more faithfully.