When we canvas our How I Beat Depression Facebook audience about what books help them the most with depression, the Bible comes up consistently.
The wisdom of the Bible thoroughly pre-dates modern psychological concepts of treating and beating depression. The Bible’s age is often cited by skeptics who struggle to believe that something so old could still retain relevance. Mainstream mental health treatment, when drawing from religious and spiritual concepts, also tends to delve into the Eastern practices like meditation, yoga and mindfulness, rather than the Bible
But the simple truth is that many people have changed their lives as a result of the Bible. When it comes to beating depression many people from all nations turn to it again and again for inspiration, hope and support.
Here are five main points about how the Bible helps people beat depression:
1. People in the Bible go through depression, heartache and trials
Aren’t Christians happy-clappy naive do-gooders? Well, that’s not what the Bible says at all. A clear example of this is King David, an influential king in Israel who presided over a flourishing Jerusalem. He is noted as a man after God’s heart, a shepherd who rose to great heights against all odds. He suffered many bouts of anguish, night terrors and confusion as he was on the run from his enemies and struggled to reconcile God’s purposes for him with his current predicament and internal reactions.
One of David’s strengths was turning again and again to God and pouring his concern and hear out:
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. …I groan because of the turmoil of my heart. (Psalm 38:6,8 – NKJV).
Christian Answers points out that David, after committing adultery, sank into a depression:
When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)
Turning to the New Testament, the people who follow Jesus Christ as Lord come under trials of faith and frequent persecution. Look at this passage written by Paul, one of the key New Testament Apostles. It encapsulates a lot of his teaching and emphasis on the growth of the inner man as the outer man decays and is subject to physical death:
We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18—NIV).
2. The Bible encourages people to turn anxiety and concern to God
The Bible is very aware of the human condition, covering such topics as doubt, insecurity, loneliness, fears about money, personal and family protection. When magnified these concerns cause anxiety, depression and mental pain. Going back to David, we see him turning this depression and downcast state to God:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalms 42:11)
Jesus’ central teaching passage, the Sermon on the Mount, discusses anxiety as one of the main points:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Anxiety minimisation surfaces frequently in the Bible and suggests to turn to God for comfort and support. The Bible depicts a God who is control of the universe and at the same time cares about people in a deep and personal way.
3. The Bible helps people forgive themselves and their past
People who struggle with depression often struggle with the past. Failed relationships, careers, decisions can wreak havoc on one’s state of mind and keep people away from the present moment by dwelling on the past and fretting about the future. Some new age books like the popular Power of Now focuses on this tendency to avoid the present moment by mental resistance away from the now.
The central message of the Bible is that Jesus has the power to forgive personal sin by his death and the resurrection. He accepts people were they are at, sometimes filled with doubt, bitterness and regret and offers a second chance at life. No one in the Bible is a no-hoper and one of its keys to helping people beat depression is putting forth grace. Rich, poor, strong, weak, man, woman, it doesn’t matter. God’s unconditional love and forgiveness are for all those who believe in Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
4. The Bible puts joy in front of happiness
In the Bible, joy is an expression as well as a spiritual weapon. It acknowledges that we will not always be happy, pleased or get what we want. The Bible encourage people to sing and rejoice in all circumstances.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-6—NKJV)
Depression can drive people into hopelessness, but joy in the Lord is strength. The Bible views joy as something that comes out of knowing a future is stable in Jesus Christ and the hope and promises contained in Him.
5. In the midst of painful situations the Bible offers hope and understanding
People come to faith and to God often in the midst of pain, confusion and hurt. The Bible often powerfully changes people who have nothing left to give. In difficult times, people are receptive to the message that God has given all in Jesus Christ who can take burdens, anxieties, worries and cares. Not only that, he deeply understands these afflictions and conditions too bearing a lot of shame, loneliness and unfair attack on the cross.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
We hope this has helped explain why the Bible helps so many people beat depression on a daily basis.
References and further reading
People can and do beat depression but it is a long term commitment. Thanks for reading remember to leave comments below (Facebook or WordPress) and follow How I Beat Depression on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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