I was diagnosed with depression in 2008 and I still struggle with it in minor measure these days. My blues are seasonal as well with the Fall and Winter being times of increased struggle. It’s important to realize that depression is both spiritual and medical in cause and condition. Depression can also come from a deep longing for Heaven. But there’s good news in all of this, I’ve noticed the effects of depression significantly subside since God blessed me with faith in Jesus Christ. The clouds and haze of depression have parted and dissipated slowly but surely since 2014. This has helped me to be more thankful for God and all that He’s given to me (which includes my wife, children, friends, church and more).
I don’t think I properly processed and dealt with the down-down-up roller coaster of events from 2003 and 2004. The events included the deaths of my father (2003 — on my birthday — congestive heart failure) and mother (2004 — on my awesome mother-in-law’s birthday — breast cancer). 2004 brought a life-changing gift with Wanda and me marrying in that summer. Fast forward four years, our first child, Naomi, was born in 2008. Not to mention, I moved from Atlanta to Alexandria, VA to Anderson, SC from 2003 to 2008. I also opened a Planet Smoothie franchise with some friends in 2008. So that’s two major deaths (not to mention the deaths of other family members), marriage, our first child, and a new business (to combine with two other businesses at the time) all from 2003 to 2008. All that with no semblance of a relationship with Jesus Christ equaled disaster. God let me off easy with mild depression and financial burdens from poor business decisions as I think back on all of this. That’s mercy!
New light. New perspective.
Now that I’m saved, my perspective on that five-year period is totally different from my outlook while I was going through it. I distinctly remember downplaying God’s mercy on me in 2009. In fact, I blamed God for all my troubles during that time. I now see how His hand of protection was all over my life during those tough years. There were so many blessings! God saved my life when he blessed me with my wife in 2004. She played a chief role in saving my spiritual life by helping me establish the discipline of going to church every Sunday. I’m happy to report that I’m the spiritual leader of our household and that our entire family is growing in knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ.
I’m stronger today because of all that I went through during those years. More importantly, I see the stark contrast between how I lean on Jesus today compared to that dark time. I also see how my ungratefulness and pride kept me from being content in those days. I’m a much more content person these days. Though I still struggle from time to time, I give thanks today for God breaking the bondage of depression in my life. The power of sanctification has done wonders for my healing. Now I’m not out of the water by any means. Unchecked sin can suck me back into depression. Below I give you several scriptures that show how sin can lead to depression:
Pride — Daniel 4:29–37 — Those who exalt themselves will be humbled by God. Pride comes before the fall. Nebuchadnezzar learned this the hard way. God revealing my brokenness and pride to me led to my humbling and salvation.
Loving the world — 2 Timothy 4:10 — God is always faithful and good. The world will reel you in and ultimately disappoint and destroy you.
Fear of man — Deuteronomy 1:19–45 and 1 Kings 19:1–4 — God always makes good on His promises and not trusting Him can lead to depression. The Israelites feared the physical stature of the men in the promised land and they didn’t enter it because they didn’t trust the same faithful God who brought them out of Egypt. Elijah fled from Ahab and Jezebel after Jezebel threatened him for defeating their evil “prophets”. Overcome with self-pity, Elijah asked God to take his life. Thankfully, the Lord restored Elijah with sleep and food and carried him on to do awesome things (which included NOT dying).
Greed — Matthew 27:3–5 — You can’t serve two masters. In Judas Iscariot’s case, the love of money led him to betray the Messiah. Judas’s remorse led to his suicide.
Envying the wicked — Psalm 73:3 — Envying the arrogant and the wicked can keep you from enjoying the blessings that God has for you.
David offers great words here in scripture about why calling on God is always the best option when in distress. Psalm 118:5–9 says,
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
The Benefits Today + Some Advice
We’ve had two more children (Maria in 2012 and Elijah in 2015) since I was diagnosed with depression, so it helps that things have improved since life is a lot more complex these days. At work, I’m much more productive. I generally have more energy and I can achieve longer periods of focused thinking. Physical activity helps combat depression and I’m much more motivated to be active. And despite the lows of depression, the unending joy of Christ never leaves my heart.
If you suffer from depression, I know how disruptive it can be. Trying to work through it alone can be costly in many ways. Seek help, ideally from a Christian counselor or therapist, and don’t try to “will your way out of your funk”. Also, don’t allow pride to keep you from sharing your feelings with a dear brother, sister, or elder at your church. The Lord’s remnant is here to help you. God had to remind Elijah (the prophet, not our son) that he wasn’t the only righteous person in the land. And that’s still true today … you are not alone!
Depression isn’t just a feeling. It’s a real medical and spiritual condition that affects your mind, body and soul. But it’s nothing the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, can’t handle. Cast all of your troubles and worries on Him and He’ll bring you through. God bless.