More people world-wide will suffer from depression, at some time in their lives, than from any other major human disorder. Does God have a way out of this debilitating condition?
Jesus said: “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness” (John 10:10b). Those struggling with depression, including many Christians, would certainly not say that they are experiencing life to the full. In fact, normal life is clearly stolen by this painful condition which, interestingly, cannot be diagnosed by any tests on the body, only by assessing a person’s feelings and behaviors. These will often include things like a loss of motivation, persistent fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
The medical profession has made significant progress in alleviating the symptoms of depression, often essential in bringing stability for the sufferer. However, most doctors agree that, although medication and talking therapies are important, the underlying causes of this mood disorder remain largely unclear. There is good news though: a substantial number of Christians have experienced God’s supernatural and lasting restoration from depression. How has this happened?
Everyone’s story is different but there is a common theme to many of the testimonies that people have given. As they have poured out their need to the Lord, He has helped them understand how there has been unresolved damage in a hidden place of their hearts. This has frequently been because of past trauma, not least through ill-treatment of some kind during childhood years. More particularly, God has showed them that these deeply hurting places within themselves have been subconsciously covered over to avoid having to face the pain of the past. Today, it is as if a part of themselves has been left behind in the dark. Sadly, the feelings locked into these places don’t just disappear, and difficult situations today can trigger a connection into the unresolved pain and despair, leading to bouts of depression.
difficult situations today can trigger a connection into the unresolved pain and despair, leading to bouts of depression.
So, what’s God’s way out of depression? For those who are walking this journey with Him, there will be many important choices to be made as God shows the root causes of their problem. They will need to allow Him to touch the hurting places within that have been hidden away. They will need to agree with Him that their own coping behaviours have not always been right. They will need to make choices to forgive those who have mistreated them in the past, and they will need to work with God on new life-choices in areas such as eating, sleeping, exercise and fellowship.
God’s way out of depression is rarely a quick fix but, when He is given access to the distressed condition of our hearts, He can truly work miracles. One of the many people who have experienced God’s supernatural help started her journey out of depression when God unexpectedly dropped into her heart the phrase “beauty for ashes”. She recognised that the words came from Isaiah 61:3a:
[He has sent me] to provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
The words of this verse amazingly led her to make contact with other Christians who were particularly able to support her in bringing before the Lord the distressing situations of her past. With their help, she was able to make new choices in how to let the Lord comfort and heal the deep places of despair. Today she is no longer needing to take antidepressant medication and has found a new confidence in her relationship with God and His destiny for her life.
God’s way out of depression starts with sharing the reality of the situation with Him and with some trusted friends. Without condemnation, God will bring steps of understanding of where the roots lie, so that we can respond in both forgiving others and receiving His forgiveness for wrong choices we have sometimes made in the past. It may take a little time but, in Jesus, there really is the opportunity for beauty instead of ashes.
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