The Soul & Depression
The Soul & Depression
SOUL Series: The Soul & Depression
by Daniel Wagner, Student & College Pastor
There is a difference between sadness and depression.
Exactly where that difference lies is where people tend to differ. Sadness is a normal human emotion that everyone will experience in times of difficulty or grief. Normal human sadness however usually has a trigger or cause, and passes with time. If this particular sadness does not pass in a "normal" amount of time (which is different for each sadness), then this could be a sign that this sadness might in fact be depression.
Depression is real.
The Bible tells us it's real.
Science tells us it's real.
It's sufferers tell us it's real.
I'm not a doctor, but I do know that depression can cause people to feel discouraged, feel prolonged and unexplained feelings of sadness, hopelessness, a lack of motivation and enjoyment in things once pleasurable. Depression can come and go for its sufferers, some seasons lasting weeks and other years.
Everyone reading this is in one of these categories: Depression is a struggle for you or depression is not a struggle for you.
If depression is a struggle for you, here's what I'd say.
You are not alone.
The great lie of depression is that you are the only one who feels the way you feel. There are others who have gone before you in this struggle and others who are in this struggle with you today. The often quoted Proverbs 17:17 - "a friend loves at all time, and a brother is born for a time of adversity" has to be more than just nice words in the Bible if you struggle with depression. Find the people who you know are in the struggle with you and help one another - you need them and they need you. God calls us to bear our burdens in community for our good and the good of others.
God has not forsaken you.
When you're in your deepest place of pain and doubt it's only natural for your soul to cry out something like Psalm 42:3 "My tears have been my food all day and night, while they said to me "Where is your God?" We wonder why we are the way we are and how God could allow us to feel such deep depths of sorrow. Only by fixing on our eyes on God as our true source of help can we find relief from our pain. It won't be easy, and it might not be quick, but it's the only true help you'll find. "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" - Psalm 46:11
Your depression might be seasonal, chronic, atypical, situational, postpartum, or any other form of depression. I'm so thankful that we're living in a time where there is less and less or a stigma around seeking help from professionals. I know several wonderful mental health professionals who are committed to serving and blessing people by helping them navigate complex biology and trauma. If you even think that you might be struggling with depression, Fondren Church would love to help you get connected to some of these professionals that we endorse confidently and regularly refer people to. You can fill out a Counseling Request Form here.
If depression is not a struggle for you, I'd say:
Don't discount depression.
It is real. It is not a made up thing. Don't assume that, because you wouldn't feel a certain way about a certain event or circumstance that a person couldn't or shouldn't be depressed. Everyone's life is different. Everyone's worldview, family of origin, experienced trauma, expectations, and context is different from yours. By discounting people's depression, we discount them as people. We project a false standard of humanity that feels unattainable for someone in a place of pain and struggle.
Help people struggling with depression - whether this is someone who is open about their struggle or secretly fighting for their life, we have an obligation as the people of God to serve and love our neighbor. Galatians 6:2 calls us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." We know that Jesus has fulfilled the law once and for all, so this seems like an odd commandment that Paul would give the Church, if we take the verse out of context. But when we take a closer look at the larger context of this verse, we see that God is leading us to care for and restore people who are vulnerable in positions of struggle. Jesus Christ is the ultimate burden-bearer. He bore our Sin on the cross and, bears our struggle with sin, anxiety and fear, and skepticism every day. Jesus willingly gave and gives of himself out of love and calls us to do the same as His followers. So, if you know someone fighting depression or someone you think is struggling alone in the dark, reach out and be a friend. Help them by pointing them to the one who bears the unbearable burden they feel crushed by.
Whoever you are and whatever category you fall in, we can praise God that as Jesus said in John 16:22 - we have sorrow now, but we will see Jesus face to face, and our hearts will rejoice, and no one will take that joy from us!