Friend, we expect that if you’re reading this, life is particularly hard right now—on the inside. Depression can be hard to understand, mainly because we are complex beings, and at times, we don’t even understand ourselves. We hope that what you find here will be clarifying for you, but also comforting. And may you have courage to persevere through this emotionally heavy season.
Depression is often labeled as a problem. People go so far as to say it’s a disorder. But if we think carefully, we will come to see that this is not always the case, primarily for two reasons.
First, depression is not a problem as much as it is a symptom that points to deep sadness, whether known or unknown.
Second, only recently in the course of human history have we thought that being sad was out of the ordinary. In modern society, we like to put out of our minds anything that isn’t positive. There’s little sympathy for feeling the seriousness and sorrow of life these days.
But if you open the Bible, you will find quite a different perspective. Within its first pages, it will tell you how our world is broken and often the cause of our sadness. There is not a more honest and sympathetic book for those who are suffering and sorrowful than the Bible. The Bible says there is wisdom in weeping, for things are not as they ought to be (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
Depression can be a perfectly appropriate response to life under the sun. Every person will walk through sad times, and many of us will face seasons of depression. In short, the Bible would tell you it’s okay to be sad.
Yet, for many reasons, there are times when our sorrow stubbornly hangs on and won’t let go. That might be where you find yourself today—under dark clouds that refuse to lift. The sadness lingers, or consumes, and maybe you don’t even know why.
King David wrote about this very feeling in one of the Psalms we find in the Bible. Through the inspiration of God's Spirit said, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why are you in turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:11).
David understood that the clouds of depression don’t merely overshadow us from the outside; they also gather in our own heart—we are disappointed, discouraged, angry, troubled, or overwhelmed within. And just as tears blur our vision, the inner clouds of emotion make it hard to think clearly.
King David finishes his song with, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (v. 11).
Can you hear him talking to himself? How does he counsel his own heart, even when he doesn’t know why he’s downcast?
He says, “hope in God! There will come a time when my prayers turn to praise. He’s my God. I know him to be faithful.”
Hope in God is the only lasting hope—the only light that is more than a dying candle. Hope in God is like the sun that shines through dark clouds, but also doesn’t cease to exist when the clouds hide it.
David knows that there will come a day when these feelings of depression will be over and done with—a day of rejoicing. But that rejoicing will be directed at God. David doesn’t say, “I’ll be happy again,” but instead, “I will praise him.”
David’s hope is God himself, a God who he knows as rescuer, deliverer, redeemer. This God is personal to David. He calls him “my God.”
There are many medications for depression, many means of trying to escape it, but there’s only one way through it, and that’s hope.
We pray that as you open the Bible, you discover hope there—the same hope that David clung to when he couldn’t clearly discern the workings of his heart. You’ll find that Hope has a name, and He doesn’t change no matter how we feel.
The hope found in God’s Word is the hope of Jesus Christ himself. You won’t find a way out of sad days, or a list of reasons to always wear a smile. You’ll find something much better—a person to cling to on the dark, stormy, and deeply disappointing days.
You will also find that he, Jesus, is your light, and there are no clouds too stubborn for him to break through.
Many have opened their Bible in sorrow and found God to be sufficient hope. The experience of depression is common even among God’s children. But by remembering that the Sun had not vanished from existence, though hidden by clouds, they sang through their sorrows. One songwriter said it beautifully:
“When darkness seems to hide his face, I rest on his unchanging grace” (William Bradbury).
Would you open the Bible and ask its Author to fill you with hope?