Jesus said, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." - John 15:10-11
Great question, but there’s not a simple answer. Depression is a complex disease. It doesn’t stem from a single cause and can’t be cured by a single pill. But understanding the physical, environmental and spiritual causes of depression can provide the first necessary step toward healing and recovery. God has created you to persevere and be an overcomer, and the following insights can help you or anyone else rise out of the depths of despair.
Much medical and psychological research has been done on the disease of depression. According to experts, some of the most common physical and environmental causes of depression are chronic diseases (especially diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, MS and other illnesses that cause chronic pain), prescription medications, negative life events (e.g., a divorce or loss of a job), financial strain, and an unhealthy diet or a lack of regular exercise. Experts have even discovered that a lack of daily laughter has adverse effects on our mood.
So, why do Christians get depressed? Well, to a large extent Christians get depressed for the same reasons that anyone else gets depressed. At times, Christians struggle with depression as the result of an illness, family tragedy, financial woes or the side effects of medications. Other Christians get depressed because of a lousy diet, lack of exercise or lack of laughter. All that to say: oftentimes the direct cause of depression isn’t spiritual but physical or environmental. So if you or a family member is dealing with prolonged periods of depression, explore some of these physical causes and schedule an appointment with your doctor.
But depression can also have spiritual causes that require spiritual remedies. In Psalm 42, the psalmist reveals four of the spiritual causes of depression along with four spiritual remedies. They are:
#1: An absence of worship and Christian fellowship (vs1-2). There is power and healing in prayer and Christian fellowship. The Church is empowered by God to lift up those who are down spiritually. But it is also equipped to encourage those who are down emotionally. So make sure that you find a good home church and attend consistently. It’s good for you in more ways than you may have realized.
#2: Forgetting the joy of the Lord (vs3-4). When we are drowning in depression, the psalmist urges us to remember yesterday’s joy in our walk with the Lord. This is so important. One of the best things to do when your thoughts are down in the dumps is to take your thoughts back to a better time and place when you could taste the goodness of the Lord.
#3: Forgetting that your pain is temporary. As Christians we realize that weeping remains for a night but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). We know that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). We understand that every bit of suffering we experience on earth for Christ will be richly rewarded in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12). So Christians, of all people, have the insight of the future necessary to persevere through the most difficult seasons of suffering in the present.
#4: Putting hope in things other than Christ. Eventually our cars will break down. Our homes will fall down. Our bodies will wear down. And our family and friends, being human, will let us down. So it is foolish to put our greatest hopes in people or things. We must put our hope in Christ and cling to Him through thick and thin, because he will never let us down. He will always see us through.
So, hang in there, Christian. An old Japanese proverb states, “Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.” And stand up you will, because you were created to be an overcomer (Revelation 12:11). And there is hope in Christ!
Dane Davis is the lead pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville and the author of Holy Huldah!: Lessons You Should Never Forget from Bible Characters
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