Whether we know it or not, depression impacts all of us. There are more than three hundred million people who suffer from depression worldwide¹. Even if we don't suffer from depression, we probably know someone who does.
Depression doesn't discriminate. It affects people of all races, ages, genders, and belief systems. In fact, a person can follow Jesus and still struggle fiercely with depression.
I know because I am one of them.
There have been times in my life when I’ve suffered deeply from depression. My worst episode was in high school. Honestly, I don’t remember much from that time. I know I slept about fifteen hours a day, lost my appetite, and had at least one serious conversation with my mom about dropping out of school. That time is a strange blur of both extreme emotion and numbness. I couldn’t tell you how much time actually passed while I wrestled with depression. It was debilitating and robbed me of a season of my life.
The only reason I survived that season and others like it was because of one word—hope. Hope is the idea of waiting in confident expectation that something is going to change. If we’re honest with ourselves, it can be easy to doubt that our feelings and circumstances will change. This is especially true in our struggle with depression. Life becomes hopeless.
Here is the truth that we have to cling to in our darkest times: Jesus is our living hope.
His life, death, and resurrection made a way for us—in our frail humanity—to have hope. Just like our salvation this hope doesn’t depend on us. It comes from Jesus who declares, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b) This declaration doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer. We will face hardships, trials, and agony in this life because we live in a fatal, fallen, and unfair world. However, we know God hasn’t abandoned us in our suffering because it’s against His character to do so. He sees us, knows us, loves us, empathizes with us, and is always there for us.
In Philippians 3:20-21, God gives us a promise that one day, He will restore us.
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
More than that, God promises us there will be a day when our suffering will end forever. Revelation 21:4 says,
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
When depression sends us into a pit of despair, it’s hard to imagine an end to our suffering. It’s hard to trust that God will, in fact, one day restore us. It’s during these times that we have to embrace an eternal perspective. We have to cling to God’s promise of restoration and an eternity without suffering which is all made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That’s why we can trust Jesus as our living hope.
I know what you’re thinking. “That’s great but how do I do that in the middle of my struggle with depression?” Here are a few practical steps to take:
1. Spend Time with the Father
Start by spending time with the Father. Depression can make it hard to motivate yourself to do this, but healing starts in the presence of God. Cry out to Him in your despair. Share your deepest hurts, longings, fears, and pain, and He will meet you right where you are. You don’t have to be put together to meet with Him. You don’t have to do the “right” thing for Him to show up. Invite Him into your space and He will meet with and comfort you.
2. Declare God’s Promises
Commit to declaring God’s promises about restoration, hope, and healing to yourself even if you don’t believe them yet. Write them down on notecards and recite them out loud. Focus your heart and mind on them. Keep them in front of you. As you remember His promises, your perspective will begin to shift.
3. Get Help
Invite trusted voices into your struggle like a friend, counselor or medical professional. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to battle depression alone. Isolation turns you away from community which is detrimental to your mental health. Take the courageous step of telling someone about your struggle. To start your journey to healing, you can email email@example.com.