Can A Christian Be Depressed?
I have experienced depression often and my Christian friends have told me that truly spiritual people are never “down.” How should I handle my depressed feelings? Am I really an immature believer because I get depressed?
Many Christians feel that they shouldn’t have their day ruined—mature believers should always be “up”. To their way of thinking, this positive response of “faith” and “trust” are indicators of good Christianity and depressed feelings always indicate unbelief. However, wise Christians know it is all right to respond to loss with some measure of grief, hurt, and depression. There is no lack of faith here.
Job’s response in Job chapter three reveals how best to handle loss—we mourn it and grieve it. To some, this response may seem unspiritual. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Job’s response is the most natural and spiritual thing in the world. I don’t know of a person on earth who claims Job 3 as their favorite chapter in the Bible. We want to pass quickly over this chapter—unless we have known the black hole of depression ourselves. Then we read Job’s story, not shocked, but with understanding expression.
Job 2:11-13 reveals that in Job’s darkest hour of suffering and loss, Job’s comforters were in place. Don’t ever begin mourning without comforters in place. God, understanding friends and family are an essential part of the healing process. Don’t mourn alone.
Paul reinforces this concept in his letter to the Corinthian believers:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Mourning and depression are often situational. It is normal for times of mourning and depression to follow times of loss. A loss of job, health or a family member may trigger bouts of depression and should be expected. When a great task is completed, the depletion of adrenaline in the body will also be felt. Elijah suffered depression following his great victory over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19:10). Jonah sat under a broom tree, angry and depressed when he finished his preaching assignment in Ninevah and the king himself repented and turned to God (Jonah 4).
Even the godly can be depressed. There is no contradiction between being a person of great faith and a person of great despair at the same time. We often think that great people and grand accomplishments have grand beginnings. Great accomplishments and great lives often are birthed in sorrow. Those who have plumbed the depths of their own inadequacies are the ones God invariably calls to shepherd others. Why? It is because those who have suffered have “walked in their shoes.”
However, it is not normal for depression to go on all the time. Brain chemical imbalances like a serotonin deficiency can trigger “grey glasses” that rob joy and color every aspect of life. We live in a time when doctors have tools to assist a person who is chemically depressed. If your depression is situational, process the hurt with trusted friends or a competent Christian counselor. If your depression is chemical and sabotages your joy and relationships, see a doctor.
For more information about mood disorders, check out our series:
I hope this helps.