Spiritual Depression, II, Prov 16:18

We began a short series on spiritual depression in the prior broadcast.  Today, we will continue to study some Biblical reasons for and solutions to spiritual depression.  

In many cases, depression is something you can address spiritually rather than chemically, through anti-depressants.  You can often make changes in your spiritual life that will improve your emotional and mental health.  Furthermore, if depression is exacerbated by your lifestyle and diet, you can make the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes to reduce or eliminate your depression, as well.  

One reason more people don’t change the spiritual and practical aspects of their lives that could improve their mental and emotional health is that they don’t know they can.  They would be willing to change whatever they need to change to get over their depression, if they just knew what to do.

During this broadcast, we will show you some of the underlying spiritual reasons for depression and the things you can do to start feeling better.  But knowing what to do is only part of the solution.  You must be willing to work at making these changes in order to see an improvement in your mental and emotional health.  If you’re not willing to make the necessary changes in your life, you aren’t going to see a change.

We don’t intend to minimize clinical depression.  There are times when people cannot shake their depression without some sort of medical assistance.  If, in fact, you have a chemical imbalance, a chemical deficiency, a chemical intolerance, or a chemical resistance in your brain or body, we suggest that you seek proper medical attention to diagnose and deal with that imbalance or those imbalances, deficiencies, and intolerances.  There are some medical professionals who have helped people suffering with depression, by correcting the imbalances in the brain and dysfunction in the body, rather than by prescribing anti-depressants.  This certainly seems to be the right way to go, medically.

Apart from any medical reasons for depression, we have found some common spiritual causes and cures for depression in the Bible.  Here are some reasons for and solutions to spiritual depression.

Pride can cause depression – Prov 16:18 – People commonly think they are better than they really are, that they can do more than they can really do, and that they are smarter than they really are.  As a result, they set their expectations higher than they can achieve and then beat themselves up for failing to meet their expectations.  This is a common problem with perfectionists.  The root of their problem is pride (1 Cor 10:12).  And the result of their problem is a fall.  With the fall and failure comes depression and the feelings of “I’m not good enough.”  “I’m a failure.”

Humility can cure depression – Job 22:29 – the way to recover from being cast down by pride is to humble yourself to God, “There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.”  When you experience the grace of God that is given to those who humble themselves (Jas 4:6) you are overwhelmed with gratitude for his goodness and kindness to you.  You realize that he never intended for you to be the smartest and the best or the person who can do the most, to draw attention to yourself.  He intended for his Son Jesus Christ to be exalted and for you to be the honored recipient of his grace (Prov 29:23).  What an honor to be God’s child in the service of the king.  If you want your depressed spirit and heart to be revived, then humble yourself.  Is 57:15 says, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

Lust can cause depression – Many people get terribly depressed when they can’t have something that they want.  In 1 Ki 21:4, Ahab was really depressed when he couldn’t have Naboth’s vineyard.  In 2 Sam 13:2, Amnon fell into a deep depression when he couldn’t have his sister, Tamar.  Lust really gets you down when you want something and can’t have it.  Just look at the way children cry when it happens to them.  Look at 1 Tim 6:9-10.  Covetousness results in “hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”  Covetous men pierce “themselves through with many sorrows.”  That’s depressing.

Contentment can cure depression – 1 Tim 6:6 – “godliness with contentment is great gain.”  1 Tim 6:8 “having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  When you are content you are never depressed about things you don’t have.  Don’t fret over not having everything you want.  Learn to be content like Paul did (Phil 4:11).  You have the Lord, who will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).  He loves you and cares for you (1 Pet 5:7).  And he will give you everything you need (Phil 4:19; Matt. 6:8).

Loneliness can cause depression – Nothing like feeling that you are all alone to brighten your day, huh? (1 Ki 19:10). You get the idea that no one understands and no one cares.  Look what David prayed in the cave in Ps 142:1-4.  He was very depressed at that time.  

Befriending God’s people can cure depression – When you are depressed you are very lonely.  But when you have godly friends that love you (1 Jn 4:10-11), you are accepted for just who you are, a child of God (Eph 1:6).  Remember that you have to get out of your shell and make friends (Prov 18:24).  Don’t think they are going to pity you and come looking for you.  You’ll be very disappointed.  

Grief can cause depression – Lk 22:45 – the disciples were so sorrowful and lethargic in Gethsemane, that they just fell asleep.  Paul said that if Epaphroditus had died he would have had sorrow upon sorrow (Phil 2:27).  Nehemiah was grieved over the condition of Jerusalem (Neh 2:2).  When you feel the pain of loss, you can become very depressed.

Worship can cure depression – 2 Sam 12:19-23 – when David and Bathsheba’s child died, David, of course, was very sorrowful.  However, he arose and worshipped.  Paul told us to “Rejoice evermore,” (1 Thes 5:16).  When you are depressed, you also tend to be very ungrateful.  So, give thanks in everything (1 Thes 5:18).  You are going to grieve in times of sorrow, but don’t forget to worship, as well.  Remember what Solomon said in Ecc 7:2-4.  This will help to keep you from getting depressed.

Conclusion: There are other reasons for depression, but these are some of the main ones. As you can see, they are difficult to deal with because people are generally unwilling to admit that they have any of these problems.  But if you search deep enough, you will usually find one or more of these spiritual causes at the root of the depression.  And you can follow these spiritual cures to help you get through it.