Hope For Depression
There was a time when I would never have admitted to myself that I was depressed—even though I was—just because I was too prejudiced against the word to explore that possibility. For a while, this prevented me from gaining the freedom I needed. As I searched the Scriptures about depression, I could not find the word but saw the symptoms of it in some of my heroes in the faith, like David and Elijah. This helped to break down some of my manly resistance to the idea that I might have a struggle with it, too.
Let’s look for depression in the following text:
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, from the Hill Mizar. Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me; a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 42:1-11)
Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! For You are the God of my strength; why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 43:1-5)
While the word depression is not being used in any of these verses above, there are a number of words that are symptomatic of it, such as “cast down,” “disquieted,” “oppression,” “heaviness,” “bowed down,” etc. Let’s take a closer look at some of these words to see what we can learn about depression.
The King James Version of the Bible uses the old English words to describe depression, such as “bowed down,” “cast down,” or “heaviness.”
CAST DOWN HEB. 7817 shachach; a prime root; to sink or depress (reflex. or cause.):— bend, bow (down), bring, couch, humble self, be (bring) low, stoop.
DISQUIETED HEB. 7817 shachach; a prime root; to sink or depress (reflex. or cause.):— bend, bow (down), bring, couch, humble self, be (bring) low, stoop.
David wrote the following verses, repeating the line three times in three different places:
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. (Psalm 42:5)
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (42:11)
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (43:5)
Another word for depression, found in David’s songs, is the word heaviness:
HEAVINESS HEB. 8424 tuwgah; from HEB. 3013; depression (of spirits); concretely, a grief:— heaviness, or sorrow
My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:28)
Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25)
Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth is heaviness. (Proverbs 14:13)
Even in the New Testament, we can see how the word heaviness is used to describe a dismal situation:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have heaviness because of your many trials. (1 Peter 1:6)
Here is another example of depression found in the expression bowed down:
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me. My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off. Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. Thus I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no response. For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. (Psalm 38:6-15)
You can see from the Strong’s Concordance definition that it directly pertains to depression:
BOWED DOWN HEB. 7817 shachach; to sink or depress (reflex. or caus.):— bend, bow (down), bring (cast) down, couch, humble self, be (bring) low, stoop
David seemed to marvel that God would even think about him in the first place, much less think of him in positive terms:
But I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks upon me. (Psalm 40:17)
For me, getting a glimpse of how God sees me or my circumstance has been one of the best ways to break out of depression.
HOPE IS THE REMEDY FOR DEPRESSION
The one constant remedy for depression in David’s writings is hope. Another is his decision to praise God regardless of his feelings or circumstances. Go back to the first verses about being cast down or being in heaviness to see where hanging on to hope and praising God were the only alternatives David gave as a remedy for being depressed. These two things were his response to depression, and, in fact, they are the only specific remedies clearly mentioned in Scripture.
As you do the following word study about hope, keep in mind that it is not wishful thinking, rather it is having an expectation and confidence in God, His Word, or His faithfulness. Look for word combinations like hope and trust as you meditate on the following scriptures:
- The erosion of our hope:
But as a mountain falls and crumbles away, and as a rock is moved from its place; as water wears away stones, and as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; so You destroy the hope of man. (Job 14:18-19)
- The physical effect of hope:
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. (Psalm 16:9)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.(Proverbs 13:12)
- Hope in His mercy:
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You. (Psalm 33:18-22)
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. (Psalm 147:11)
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him! The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:21-26)
- Praise and hope together:
For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother's womb. My praise shall be continually of You. I have become as a wonder to many, but You are my strong refuge. Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day. (Psalm 71:5-8)
But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more (Psalm 71:14)
- Promises in God’s Word and hope:
Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. (Psalm 119:49)
My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:81)
Uphold me according to Your promise, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope. (Psalm 119:116)
I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:147)
- Hope never cut off:
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; if you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:14)
- Hope and our confession:
You are wearied in the length of your way; yet you did not say, “There is no hope.” You have found the life of your hand; therefore you were not grieved. (Isaiah 57:10)
- Hope, happiness, and our survival:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
- Hoping against hope:
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed; God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:16-22)
- Unseen hope:
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:24-25)
- Rejoicing in the prospect of our hope:
Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
- Hope from God’s past dealings with men:
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
- God is the source of hope:
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
- The breastplate of hope:
But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
- Hope as a gift:
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
- Hope as the anchor of the soul:
Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil. (Hebrews 6:17-19)
- Holding to the confession of our hope:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
- Hope and faith working together:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
- Permanent hope:
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
How do you feel now? It is difficult to remain sad or depressed after reading these verses, isn’t it?
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW
We live under spiritual darkness, which influences our thinking and effects our well-being. There is a section of scripture is about Jesus coming to a part of Israel that was particularly dark. As a result, there was a lot of oppression:
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, as when at first He lightly esteemed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward more heavily oppressed her, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; They rejoice before You according to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:1-4)
Everyone experiences some degree of mental oppression, but for some it takes over their lives and can become debilitating. They will need someone to help them stand against it. In some cases, I will actually speak to the oppressor in the spirit, breaking their rod or stick that they use to torment the person with. This is a degree of deliverance, but not full deliverance. This allows the person to begin the process of being disciplined in their thinking, in a way that keeps them free.
Many people want to be free from evil thoughts and impulses that trouble them. If you are considering deliverance when you don't really need it, believe me, it can start you down a road of prolonged mental torment.
The following are a list of ten things that contributed to our initial freedom and will keep us free, if we will apply them sincerely:
1. Be quick to ask for forgiveness and be quicker to extend forgiveness to others. This really limits what the enemy can do in our lives. Bitterness or resentment attract demons, while forgiveness sets us free:
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)
2. Walk in the open, be honest about your true condition. Satan always tries to inspire us cover our sins so he has more time to gain a foot hold in our lives:
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)
You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. (Psalms 90:8)
Peter described the devil as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Lions hunt in the darkness, prey on the isolated, take advantage of the sick or weak. We need to keep out of darkness, stay in fellowship, draw nearer to the Lord when we are down. His tactic is to make you feel like you are the only one going through what you are going through. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
3. Develop an open and honest relationship with others, with whom you can be accountable:
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (the word healedhere also means to be saved or made whole) (James 5:16)
Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. (John 12:35)
4. Always place yourself in the proximity of the truth. This involves going to church and reading the Bible. For the most part, it is the truth that sets us free, so we must place ourselves where there is truth spoken, read, believed, and practiced:
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:21-22)
5. Walk in love because it is a preservant. We must keep our hearts in the love of God to keep out from under evil influences. This also sharpens our discernment. The opposite of love is selfishness. If we do not walk in love, we walk in darkness. (under the spiritual influences called darkness)
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
...keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:21)
But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11)
6. Remain in right relationship with those in authority. God-given authority was intended by God to be a means of protection for us:
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
7. Guard your thought life. We all meditate all the time. Choosing what we meditate upon is the key to our mental freedom:
…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools... (Romans 1:21-22)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
8. Abstain, abstain, abstain. This means there are things you cannot do. You must choose to desist from things that others do:
...that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. (Acts 15:29)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul... (1 Peter 2:11)
9. Walk in Worship. The enemy hates it when we sing to the Lord and he will leave where sincere worship is being offered to Him:
And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp and Saul would feel better, and the evil spirit would go away. (1 Samuel 16:18)
10. Call on the Lord for help. Here are three sure promises you can rely on, but require that we do our part:
For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! (2 Timothy 4:18)
PRACTICAL THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW
Here are some practical things you can do now:
De-clutter your life. Even if it is a small area, you will feel like you have accomplished something.
Get with people. You will not feel like it, but it will help. Depression will try to isolate you, but being with others, especially if they are doing well themselves, will help you feel better.
Set achievable goals. Often we become depressed when we set goals that are too high for us, beyond what we can do with the grace and resources we currently have. Scale back to something incremental.
Diversify. If all your worth or work is invested in one thing, and it is not going well, you will become depressed. Build your life around several things rather than one big focus.
Reflect and Respect. Take time to write thank-you letters to those who helped you along the way. Gratitude is like a medicine. Take time to reflect and show respect. The turtle on the fence post.
Clean up the past. Take time to right any wrongs. Go back to those you have had fallen out with in the past. Express any gratitude or appreciation you can. Ask for forgiveness for you part, with no justification at all. Zero.
Admit that you over-shot. Often times, it was not God’s leading, but our own presumption that caused us to over shoot the run way. Then when we crash, we blame Him. Admit where you walked in presumption and pride. God gives grace to the humble.
Sunshine and water: In many ways, we are built just like a plant. We were originally made from the soil and need things from the soil in order to feel whole. To get these we need to eat those things that were grown from good soil. Nutrients and minerals. We also need the right amount of sunlight and water in order to flourish. Think of cancer as the bruise on an apple or the bad part of a potato. It’s really the same thing.
Listening to music you take in: Put off those sad old songs for a while, or those songs that are linked to sad memories from your past. Music has the power to alter your moods, so choose the kind that picks you up. Get into worship any way you can. The fast track to feeling better is to worshipping with your own voice. Raise your voice aloud and see how much better your feel in just a few minutes. (1 Samuel 16:23)
Unplug: Too much of a good thing will hurt you. You need to get off social media, doing games, and over-sensitizing yourself with computers and smart phones. You have to learn how to unplug.
Write out your vision: Get it down on paper where you can see it for yourself. If you don’t have anything to write, that may be where your problem lies.
Help someone else in need: I know of one guy who hated the fact that an old friend of his was depressed. He had stopped living life as he once had and was in touch physical shape too. So my friend went down to encourage him. At first the guy did not respond, but gradually did. The only reason my friend knew what the guys was going through was because he was in a serious state of depression himself. After a few days, it dawned on him that not only was his friend doing better, but so was he.
Pray before you go to bed: Don’t want television up until bedtime. Instead, set a time, like 9:00 where you put away all media. Then curl up in a comfortable chair and review your day before the Lord. Invite Him to sit with You and just go through what happened, giving Him thanks for the good stuff and asking Him to forgive the bad stuff. This is part of abiding in Him. It will help things from building up, accumulating. If there are things that happened, tell Him about it as if He didn’t know. This will help you more than you know. Keep the pile of straw small so that there are fewer “last straw” moments in your life.
THINGS NOT TO DO
Don’t binge on anything. Movies, food, drink, will only complicate your problems and and further muddle how you feel.
Get rid of soda from your life: This is like putting sugar in your gas tank. You won’t have the energy to get through what you are going through. Switch over to water. You will be surprised how quickly you will learn to love it. I would say go on a total soda fast, then drink it only occasionally, like at a special function. Even then, you will lose your desire for it.
Don’t try to fix one problem with another: Over drinking or taking drugs often are related to depression because they are trying to fix one problem with another.
Learn to chill: It would be helpful to learn how to chill for short periods at a time. Doing low stimulus kinds of things like fishing, gardening, cooking, hiking, kayaking even sitting down and reading a book, all help with depression. The more stress you have come through the more you can see why people get into things like bird-watching or find new life in yoga. Perhaps it explains why the older we get the more we love a good nap. I call these “cheap-thrills”. They are powerful tonics, taken in measure, to bring balance to our lives.
Don’t watch the news or sit-comes for a while. The sitcoms are filled with sarcastic and negative humor. They are usually built on false premise that do not match reality.
As for watching the news, that will make anyone depressed. I think that an appropriate form of torture, rather than waterboarding, would be to make terrorists sit through repeated news cycles until they crack. If you want to keep abreast of current events, just skim the headlines on the on-line news sites where you can control what you see.