Depression is one of the most common, yet dreaded, diseases there is. Christians often blame themselves for being depressed. After all, they are supposed to be joyful. What does the Bible have to say about depression?
There are two Psalms that give vivid descriptions of depression. The first one holds out hope that God will open his heart to the brokenness those who are depressed experience.
“…[T]here is no soundness to my bones…My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome…I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health to my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart…My strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes…I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God…For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me…Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.” (Psalm 38:3-22, NIV)
The second provides the latitude for those depressed to feel that there is no hope–that God offers no relief–that God has, in fact, caused the depression. Railing against God, while asking for his help, keeps us connected with him–until hope can be found.
“I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me…in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief…But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken from me friend and neighbor–darkness is my closest friend.” (Psalm 88:3-9, 13-18)
The dichotomy of these two Psalms brings to mind the the deep anguish and hope expressed by the father who asked Jesus to heal his son and was told by Jesus that everything is possible for one who believes. “I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24, ESV)