Emmaus Baptist Church
True Healing in Jesus Christ (Depression: Part 1)
Updated: Feb 15
In the Psalms we often find expressions of the deep turmoil within the soul. How did the Psalmist deal with angst and depression? What solutions have God provided for us in his word to the troubles of our souls? Like so many Psalms the same pattern emerges, where the solution to soul anguish and depression is to look at the hope in God. In the Person and Work of our Lord we find hope and a better perspective on the causes of depression and angst. The Psalms do not often describe the exact circumstances, though they are real and they cause real turmoil in the soul. The Psalmist focuses on God. He focuses on his relationship to the Lord. This places his depression and turmoil into greater perspective. The Psalms then teach us that no matter the problem that is causing the anguish, pain and heartache, God is our comforter, our rock and ever present help in time of need. The Psalms help us have the confidence so beautifully expressed, in Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Let us consider one example, in which the Psalmist has a change of perspective. Shifting his thought from the pain and anguish of his soul to the Lord.
Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God (Psalm 42:11 and 43:5)
When the Psalmist expresses the depressed and anxious state of his soul, he immediately reminds himself. Hope in God, worship God and trust in His salvific work.
The Psalmist acknowledges his depression and immediately turns to himself to say: "Look to God!" Notice how the Psalmist has to stir up his own soul to seek the Lord. We see that it is not our natural impulse to turn to God. We need to be prompted, even sometimes prompting ourselves.
What is the solution for depression? Pastor Martin Holdt once wrote in a little booklet called Overcoming Depression: "We do not think correctly. Thoughts invade our mind, and while they are not untrue, they represent a slanted perspective of the situation." Our thinking needs to be directed away from our own perspective on things and raised toward God. When we begin to see Him and the world He rules over from His perspective, feelings of depression and anxiety are dispelled. In short, we have to turn to the one who can help. God is the only one who can help us with our anguish and depression. Faith in God, and Hope in God is what is needed to overcome depression. For the Christian this reminder is helpful, because we have some knowledge of God to call to mind. For those of us who attend church, read our bibles and meditate on the word of God, we have access to the knowledge of God. We have walked with the Lord for some time and are able to remind ourselves that the Lord has been our help in the past, and will be again in the future.
But what about those who do not know God? Are they left without hope? No! God has made himself known. Knowledge of God abounds in the days that we live in. Walk into any bookstore and they sell copies of the Bible. God has made himself known through his word. God has also promised to send the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus words. John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
God is more willing to give His Spirit than we are to pray to receive Him. Jesus tells us of the willingness of the Father to send the Spirit as he teaches His disciples about prayer.
Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Faith is exercised through prayer. A call to God. “Help me, Lord.” You see the Psalmist stirring up his own soul to call out to the Lord. “Hope in God,” he tells his own soul. Have you called to the Lord? Have you sought his help? Do you desire his nearness?
Psalm 43:3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
When the Lord sends help, He takes us by the hand and leads us. Are you willing to follow the Lord’s help? Are you willing to accept his help? It is useless to say that I have asked the Lord and He has not done anything, the Lord is not unwilling to do, since he has already done everything in Christ Jesus, and in Christ He is still doing everything so that you may have confidence in His work on your behalf.
Our problem is that we resist. Resisting the Lord’s help often intensifies the pain and sorrow. You need to reach the point where you are not only tired of the darkness of depression, but strongly desiring the light to break through. John 3:19-21 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Search your heart, are you harboring evil works? Is that what keeps you in darkness and depression? Is that what is causing depression and anxiety? Are you tired and burdened by your evil works? Do you feel trapped and unable to experience freedom from sin and guilt? Are you tired of resisting the grace that God offers you in the gospel? Satan tells us that we are not good enough to appear before God, and he is right! We are not good enough to appear before God, who are we that God would show us mercy and give us grace? We are nobody. But God does not provide grace because of who we are!
Ps 25:11 For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Ps 31:2-3 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
We must also recognize that God is seated on the throne of Grace. Our confidence is not in who we are, or whether we will be good enough to appear before God. Our confidence is in His name and in His position as Priest and King seated on His throne of Grace. Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We may receive grace because of His supreme goodness! That is the truth that Satan wants to rob us of. He does not want us looking at the Lord of grace. He wants to keep you in bondage to him, preoccupied with our problems. He wants to leave you feeling hopeless and helpless.
Hear the invitation of Jesus: Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In contrast we see that Jesus promises rest for our souls. Do you believe when He tells you that He is gentle and lowly in heart? Will you trust Him, by taking up his yoke? Will you have him as your Lord?
Those who wholeheartedly embrace the Lord Jesus Christ have the promise that darkness will not prevail against the Lord. Through faith we come near to the Lord and nearness to God drives away darkness and depression.
John 1:4-5 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Oftentimes depression and anxiety are an indicator that we are far from the Lord. These feelings of depression and angst are the Lord’s way of prompting us to seek him, and call for his help. Many would be offended at the truth of God's word, but where else can we turn to? Jesus at one point even challenges his disciples after they hear the offensive truth when he taught that He is the Bread of Life.
John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Our world's rejection of God is seen in the deep and pervasive pandemic of depression that so many souls are suffering under. The popular solution presented to people in deep distress is chronic use of anti-depressants. Why would we substitute the true and lasting joy offered to us by Christ Jesus? Do we not believe that He is our healer? Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.