recovery in Christ when life is broken

Can a Christian be Depressed?

Depression is defined as a persistent sad mood or loss of pleasure in normal activities. Normal ups and downs are a common part of life. For some, however, feelings of sadness and hopelessness can become crippling or prolonged, making normal day-to-day functioning a struggle. 

Early on after becoming a believer, I experienced a season of depression. In hindsight, experiencing this depression was a tipping point God used to wake me up, inviting me into a recovery process which has transformed my relationship with Him and others.

Though this time of depression, I often felt hopeless and sad, withdrew, had consistent thoughts of guilt and shame, and had trouble functioning. I also had a distorted belief that “Jesus + my visible success + approval of certain others = I’m okay”. Trying to live with this formula was not God’s design and weighed me down. I also had not worked through my past, both hurt and harms I had done. I had not forgiven significant people in my life but glossed over the pain. I also was prideful as to own my part and ask for forgiveness from other.

Over time, this approach to life did not work, and it affected me emotionally and spiritually and I experienced depression. I also kept thinking there might be a “magic bullet” to not feel this way. Was I reading and memorizing enough Scripture? Sharing gospel enough? Serving enough? Was there some area of sin? Was I headed in the wrong direction in life? More exercise? Did I need to see a doctor?

I struggled with admitting I had depression, feeling it was something a believer would never struggle with if they were doing things “the right way.” Thankfully, God brought me to a place of admitting this with a community of friends and beginning a journey of healing.

Depression didn’t enter my life overnight and it wasn’t healed overnight. God has used a variety of means of grace over time including:

  • Friends who allowed me to be real and admit without judgment or trying to fix me
  • Renewing my mind from the lies about a distorted image of God, believing I needed to add to what Christ has done through my performance, and looking for my greatest joys apart from Christ
  • Healing from the past through forgiveness and amends
  • Taking care of health and sleep, and getting medical input

Now, I can thank God for this depression, as it has led me to greater intimacy with Him, and a greater freedom to live authentically and to love others.

If you are experiencing depression, know that God loves you and there is hope. He wants you to bring your heartache to him and to give you his peace. Below are some steps to start with:

  • Be courageous to be honest with a friend about your struggle. Honestly admitting your need begins the journey of healing.
  • Meditate on God’s word to renew your mind and remind yourself of what is true. Romans 8:31-39; Psalm 103:2-4; Lamentations 3:20-26; Zephaniah 3:17.
  • Consider areas that might be contributing to your struggle: circumstances, emotional or relational pain, health issues, or spiritual illness (such as sin in our life, believing lies, idolatry, etc.). What are some steps you can take?
  • If you are having suicidal thoughts and have a plan to take your life, please seek medical help immediately by calling 911. Your life is precious.

For additional resources, check out the Depression Issue Sheet and listen to some stories of hope from Andrew P., Ginni, and Noah.

-Liz B.

Will Joy Ever Come?

I will always feel alone. Things will never change. God has abandoned me. God doesn’t love me. No one loves me.

Have you ever had any of those thoughts cross your mind? Maybe they have not only crossed your mind but you believe them to be true because your reality seems to affirm those thoughts.

We have entered into a season that should be marked with joy and gladness, yet for many it feels like pouring salt into the open wound of loneliness.  The holidays serve as a reminder of loss, broken promises, or abandonment that you want to run and hide from. It often appears easier to escape than to allow yourself to feel hurt and sadness and so you mask or numb the pain. That may get you through the holiday season but the pain and heartache will remain long after.

Loneliness is common to all and sometimes inescapable. You may fall victim to loneliness through no fault of your own and your circumstances have thrust you into it. Loneliness also comes through sin which bring separation from God and others. As a follower of Christ, you may experience loneliness for being an obedient disciple and forsaking the ways of the world.

I love the book of Psalms in the Bible because it is filled with honest, raw emotion and it teaches us how we are to handle loneliness and heartache.

Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,

    for he has been good to me.

From Psalm 13 we see the psalmist openly convey his heart to the Lord and even question God. He’s completely honest about his feelings and doubts. After pouring out his true thoughts to the Lord he begins to pray that God would answer him and rescue him. The psalmist then moves to expressing his faith in the Lord and praising Him for the salvation of his soul and for His goodness.

When loneliness occurs, rather than seeking to escape reality or fill the void we should seek aloneness in the presence of the Lord. Cry out to Him just as the psalmist did. Ask God to search your heart and reveal sin in your life. Even though joy feels absent, thank God for who He is.

God, who is well acquainted with grief, sees and knows your heartache. He longs to fill the void in your heart. He has promised He will never leave us, He goes before us, and He will not fail us. He is the one who will meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches and satisfy us with good things.

Joy has come and is available to all who would receive Him.

-Johnna S.

recovery in Christ when life is broken.