The world is very aware about mental health issues like depression. The awareness has taken away the stigma but brought to limelight the number of people who struggle with it. The statistic is alarming. According to WHO, there are 264 million people of all ages suffering from depression – best believe this number includes Christians. And depression does not just mean a little fluctuation in moods that can be easily shaken off, but it is much deeper than that.
Depression is said to be a feeling of despondency and dejection by the Oxford dictionary, while clinical depression is a mood disorder according to mayoclinic.org
The simple question is this, can a Christian be depressed? Absolutely! If a Christian can have a headache from stress or have ulcer from poor feeding patterns, then he/she can get depressed if they do not take care of the mind and get overwhelmed by situations around them.
The world we live in is not divided into two halves whereby a part is extremely happy and the other half doomed to depression. There are people who are fortunate to lack nothing in life or who may have good upbringing and tend to see the good in life. There are others who have experienced unimaginable loss or injustice. There are people who suffer from hormonal imbalances which cause them to become mostly melancholic and those who are clinically depressed.
Despite these differences in experiences, I still do not believe a certain sect have been doomed to depression. Every single human being walking this earth has at one point or the other suffered from bouts of depression to various degrees. Dare I say I even see cases of depression in some bible characters?
- Elijah – Elijah was a man who single handedly confronted the prophets of Baal and held them up for a conquest. This man called down fire from heaven which consumed the sacrifice while it was dripping wet. He prayed to God and God withheld rain for three and a half years. Yet, there was a time where he ran from a woman in fear and prayed for death (1 Kings 19).
How can a man move from so powerful to wishing himself death? At that point he probably felt overwhelmed with everything going on. One cannot be on earth without feeling tired from time to time. When Elijah became tired he slept and God sent an angel to give him food. Food! I will address this in a bit.
2. Jonah – Jonah initially ran from God’s instruction to proclaim doom to the people of Nineveh due to their sins. When he repented and did as he was instructed, the people of Nineveh asked God for forgiveness and God in His mercies forgave. This prophet got angry at God for going against His initial decree of destruction. Firstly, why would a man of God be angry because people are getting saved? His anger got to a point where he also asked God to die (Jonah 4:3). Instead of heeding to that request, God made him a leafy plant as shade for him to rest.
3. Job – Job was so afflicted by the devil that he complained bitterly to God and wished for death (Job 6:9)
Jeremiah cursed the day he was born and even Jesus Christ cried, more so groaned till his sweat became like blood as he prayed to not experience death on the cross.
Sadness, gloom, grief or any other adjective synonymous to depression has and will be experienced by us all. Know that the people who choose to show up everyday do not necessarily have some extraordinary strength. This is just a decision they choose to make.
One of the things the devil does is to isolate us with our problems. Suddenly a believer begins to think he is the only one going through challenges. I’m reminded of how Elijah thought he was the only one who had not worshipped Baal. It was so convenient to think only him was persecuted and only him had struggles but alas, there were 7000 prophets preserved by God who had not bowed down to Baal. You are not in this alone.
When you read through the lives of the people mentioned here, you will see that they still fulfilled purpose and did their own quota. Some were great prophets who kept on spreading the love of Jesus across the nations. I reiterate that the people who show up are not the most blessed or happy, but those who make conscious effort not to dwell in their lows.
From the examples stated here, I can learn how they all took their frustrations to God. Whatever you are feeling, whether it is suicidal thoughts, fear or heartbreak, God is more than happy to hear what you are going through. My mantra for a while now is ‘feel your feelings’. Do not suppress or compartmentalize what you are feeling in order to go through your day. Cry, feel that anger and acknowledge the hurt.
Then eat and rest. God gave Elijah food in his low moment and gave Jonah a shade over his head when he was angry. He did not command them to pray in tongues for eleven hours or read the scriptures from cover to cover. He ensured they ate and they rested. Eat and sleep it out. Go off social media and spend some time in calmness.
You do not have to show up all the time, you do not have to go to all the events or answer all phone calls. Take time away and rest. I wonder why you work 7 days a week when even God rested on the 7th day.
Also, ensure you talk to someone. If you or any one you know is exhibiting symptoms of depression ensure you talk to a licensed therapists. Just the way you would take your fellow Christian to a doctor if symptoms like headaches persist, I believe seeing a licensed therapist would not be any different. Explain what exactly you are feeling and when you are done, then proclaim God’s promises over your life.
Say the promises out loud if needs be. Record yourself proclaiming life, healing and strength to your soul. Find apps that can do it for you. Whatever you do, do not dwell on the negative. It is more like, ‘I’m hurt, now what?’ When Jesus was tempted of the devil after he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, all he replied was ‘written’. i.e., they were straight from scripture. Read the word of God and know what it says about you.
This is why as a Christian; you need to be conversant with knowing what the word of God says over your life. So that when you feel yourself entering that gloomy place proclaim His word. If you are too weak to do it yourself, then play worship songs and messages that remind you of who you are.
Finally and most importantly, prayer. Pray over your life and pray against the spirit of depression. Pray yourself to a place of calmness and if you are too weak to do so, find spiritually strong people to pray over. Know that Jesus answers prayers.
Thank you so much for reading. Please do well to follow, like and drop a comment below. God loves you like crazy!!
P.S: See you after Easter