Many people battle with depression and sadly suicide rates increase each year. Depression is not bias or picky, it affects many people no matter what race, gender, age, saved, or unsaved. Did you know even people in the Bible had moments of despair and depression? Elijah prayed to God to end his life, "But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”" (1 Kings 19:4). Jonah prayed to God to end his life, "Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” (Jonah 4:3). Even David, a man after God's own heart, had moments of great depression Psalm 40:1-3, Psalm 42, Psalm 4.
How can we overcome this invasive, dark cloud?
Notice what both Elijah and Jonah did during their darkest moments, they talked to God. They didn't hide the sorrow and heartache from the Lord but cried out to Him. When we are in a season of darkness, we need to pour our hearts out to God. He knows what we are going through, how we are feeling, what we are thinking and wants us to come to Him for comfort, help, and guidance. Remember, darkness only lasts for a moment, even when it seems that it will never end, the light will come again. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b).
God Provides Exactly What We NEED When We Need It
Then as he (Elijah) lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. - 1 Kings 19:5-8
What was the lesson Elijah learned on the mountain of God? God showed him that he was not alone, God told him there were 7,000 in Israel who did not bow down to Baal but worshipped God. (1 Kings 19:18). God also showed Elijah that although He is all-powerful, His voice is also sweet and soft to His children. (1 Kings 19:11-13). We have to listen and be attuned to hear His voice. When those dark thoughts enter your mind and when you hear discouraging words, quickly go into God's Word and remember what God says to you!
God Cares For Us Deeply and Unfathomably
There are two things God taught Jonah:
1) He cares deeply for us. Notice how God "prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery." (Jonah 4:6). God knew what Jonah was feeling and what he was going through. God understands that we are human and weak, He doesn't want us to be miserable or hurt, He is our Father and wants us to be filled with His joy and love.
The Lord told us that when we are hurting, He will comfort us. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4). God always comforts His children. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
He is always with us, never leaving our side, "For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b).
He sees our tears and remembers them. "You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?" (Psalm 56:8).
He is our help in times of trouble. "I will lift up my eyes to the hills— from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1-2).
2) God desires that all people would be saved. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9). We may dislike someone or we may wonder why an evil person lives long while a good person dies young. Our thoughts cannot compare to God's thoughts and we won't know why some things happen. However, He has a plan and purpose for each life and we all either choose to obey God and follow His will for our life or disobey God and follow after the devil. Just think about the eternity that awaits that evil person though, their life on this earth is the only "heaven" they will experience, and what a sad "heaven" that is!
A world filled with sin and evil is not the heaven God has designed. God is still gracious and merciful and on this earth, we still have good, happiness, light, and His presence. However, God has given chance after chance for repentance and if rejected, an eternity of separation from God, separation from all things good and perfect is the forever dwelling place they will spend their eternity in. A place where there is no light, for light is of God. Hell is a place where there is no happiness or joy, no peace, no love, no life, just torment, pain, darkness, and emptiness.
However, God is longsuffering and very patiently waits for each person to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. When you read through the Bible, especially the Old Testament, God's character and immense love for us is so evident and unimaginable. How greatly loves us! "Hell was created for the devil and his angels. If you go, you are an intruder." (Adrian Rogers). Revelation 20:7-15.
First, talk to God and seek His Word for comfort. Next, find someone who is trustworthy and a believer and open up to them about your depression. Be careful who you open up to and make sure they are a true believer in Christ, someone who is mature in the faith to help lead you closer to God not lead you to sin, give you wrong advice, or gossip about you.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. - Romans 12:15
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. - James 5:13-16
Listening to hymns is one of the best ways to heal your soul and remove the darkness from your mind. I personally find that hymns and classical music like medicine to my soul. Also, listening to music you enjoy, that is positive and encouraging to you while also soothing to the soul. For example, I love Korean music, everyone only knows about Kpop, but Korea has way more to offer than that. I personally love the Korean group, SG Wannabe, Korean drama soundtracks, and Korean oldies. Whenever I feel down or upset I will listen to some of my favorite songs that comfort my heart and pour positivity into my mind.
"And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him." - 1 Samuel 16:22-23
Read Christian books (I recommend non-fiction), and the Bible. Psalm 119:15-16. By reading encouraging, instructive, uplifting, and God-focused books, your mind is refreshed and filled with God's truth, removing the lies and darkness that creep in. Proverbs 30:5. Some Christian authors I recommend are: Dr. David Jeremiah, Billy Graham, Priscilla Shirer, Tony Evans, Max Lucado, and Shelia Walsh. As always, reading the Bible is important and necessary in a Christian's life. Matthew 4:4. It is the way God speaks to you, it comforts you and brings you peace as nothing else in this world can do. Psalm 18:30. If you are not a reader, I would first ask you to try to read this blog post, and second, there are many podcasts, you can listen to the Bible on audio, and watch YouTube messages such as Adrian Rogers, Love Worth Finding.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. - Hebrews 4:12-13
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” - Isaiah 40:8
Any toxic thing or person in your life, remove yourself from it. Toxic people and things have no place in your life, period! Eating not only affects your body but also your mind, so implement some healthy foods into your diet and detox once in a while to rid your body of the chemicals and toxins. Exercise to release stress and stay healthy.
Overcoming depression is a process, and once you have been depressed once, it is easy to become depressed again. Instead of focusing on the past or future, focus on today and take it one day at a time. Psalm 118:24, Philippians 3:13-14, Isaiah 43:18-19. Focus on doing your best today, and leave the future in God's hands. Work on your mental health today, strengthen your mind, meditate on God and His Word, think about the good things or things that bring you joy and peace, implement these steps into your daily life.
It is important to surround yourself with God and biblical things "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 4:7-8). If we want to overcome, we have to be prepared, you can't wait until the darkness is already in your mind, you have to set up borders and guards so you are ready for battle.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints - Ephesians 6:10-18