There is an idea going around – and I think it’s been going around for a long time – that true Christians, or at least godly Christians, are never depressed. It’s a wonder where ideas like this come from. I suppose there is a twisted logic to it – Christians are going to heaven, so why be sad, right?
If only life were so easy.
But it’s not…not at all. And the idea that Christians should never be depressed only adds guilt to the problem thus doubling the pain. Thankfully, the Scriptures are not nearly so harsh on hurting brothers and sisters. For instance, the Psalms are full of testimony by God’s people experiencing melancholy…
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Psalm 42:5 (ESV)
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18 (ESV)
There are many more such passages, but the point is that God’s people walk through hard times and as a result…feel downcast and discouraged. Let’s call it depressed. Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christendom, famously battled depression, as did the one-time President of the Navigators, Lorne Sanny. And whether or not it’s a chronic problem, all of us have experienced it from time to time. I certainly have.
But those who will admit their sadness, occasional or otherwise, find themselves in good company. For the Apostle Paul also struggled in this area. He wrote…
But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 2 Corinthians 7:6 (NASB)
I quote the NASB because it uses the forbidden “d” word, but the ESV basically says the same thing, only using “downcast”. Whatever you call it, 2 Corinthians 7:6 has hope, because Paul says that God is in the business of comforting the depressed. That’s hopeful, for it tells us that God knows we walk through depression, and He Himself works to pull us through it. This really shouldn’t surprise us, for He is our Heavenly Father, and as such, He loves us His children more than we can know.
Last year the President of the school my son Josh attends (and where Elisabeth is also heading this fall), Wheaton College, sent out an email to parents referencing a chapel address he gave where he talked through his own recent struggle in this area. Wow. Rarely had I heard such vulnerability from someone in a position like his. Dr. Phil Ryken is a noted theologian (you hear me quote from him occasionally if you attend Edgewood; I’m using his Luke commentary in our latest series) and a gifted speaker – the message I’m talking about is below and is well worth a half an hour of your time as he tells how he walked through depression…and God comforted him.
For Friday, June 5th: 2 Corinthians 8