It is hoped that this article will bring some Biblical enlightenment and encouragement to anyone suffering with thoughts of depression, anxiety or doubt. It is both a Bible study and a personal testimony (In fact, you may watch my testimony of dealing with clinical depression and OCD at the bottom of this page if you would like.) This article is not exhaustive. There is much more that could be added to it - but it’s a start.
It is important to clarify that this is a general article for all people ( although it is obviously geared towards Christians) – However if you think you may have an actual mental disorder ( as I do) such as clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder or schizophrenia I strongly urge you to see a doctor ( as I have) and do not be afraid to take the appropriate medication (as I have) if that is what is needed to make you whole.
You can rest assured that God is not the one screaming condemnation at you – that is Satan who is rightly called “The Accuser of the brethren” : “’…for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:11) . While Satan is our accuser, Jesus is our great Advocate. We must rest in the peace that Jesus has made for us with God – by His grace and love and atoning work on the cross.
At the same time what a blessing it is to know that even though He is so high above us He still “Understands our thought afar off…” and is “Acquainted with all our ways…” (Psalm 139:2-3) . God knows the darkness and suffering we sometimes go through. He knows us intimately, He cares, He “gets us”. He is both transcendent of our minds and lovingly understanding of our minds....
Vine translates the Greek sophronismos as literally “saving the mind”. Other meanings include “restoring one to his senses” and to have moderation and self-control in your thinking. For me there is always a tendency towards extreme or “catastrophic” thinking. This is the opposite of moderated thinking. We can liken a well moderated mind to an online forum where many people make many different comments on many different topics but the hardworking and wise Moderators of that group are quick to keep the group in check or “controlled”. Comments ( or “thoughts”) that are toxic or unhealthy (i.e. Trolling) are quickly deleted. In the case of the mind, the Bible and wise Christian advisers are the standard by which the group is moderated.
A Pastor once told me that when the enemy wants to try and destroy someone he will try to separate them from the church and other Christian friends and family – in the very same way a wolf will try to separate a sheep from its flock and its shepherd. Don’t let this happen to you… be courageous enough to be vulnerable to a fellow Christian who is wise, understanding and trustworthy. Sometimes we can receive wonderful Biblical advice that will help us but there is also a true freedom in just saying our thoughts out loud to another person – using them as a sounding board. Whether this is a friend, a pastor or a professional counselor – I urge you to talk it out!
Now a related word on self-esteem. When it comes to the area of self-esteem there are 2 ways in which we can go wrong. One is the more obvious to us Christians and that is self-exaltation or pride. We are often warned about this in sermons and rightfully so. Self-exaltation is repugnant to God. But what we also must realize is that we can go wrong just as easily by being “down on ourselves” all the time or self-loathing. Self-loathing is just as much pride and is just as destructive as self-exaltation – it is simply the other end of the spectrum. We must not focus on “self” at all except to know that God loves us just the way we are and that it is only in His power and grace that we can become more refined and Christ-like as we focus on Him.
Sometimes when we are depressed or anxious it can seem impossible to face the day. But one of the keys is to simply do something – no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is. Whether it is reading one Bible verse, praying for one person or just making your bed that morning – it is something and it gets us on the right track, moving in the right direction. It builds our confidence and sense of accomplishment – it is simple but it is healthy.
David Guzik says this concerning he helmet of salvation: “1 Thessalonians 5:8 speaks of the helmet of salvation in connection to the hope of salvation. The helmet of salvation protects us against discouragement, against the desire to give up, giving us hope not only in knowing that we are saved, but that we will be saved. It is the assurance that God will triumph.”
We cannot underestimate the power there is in praising God through difficult times and dark thoughts. Here Paul and Silas had just been viciously beaten and were now in prison in stocks. Yet they praised, worshipped and thanked God – the result was freedom - “everyone’s chains were loosed”. In a similar reminder Nehemiah tells the children of Israel “…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10).
A.W. Tozer once said that “The root of all evil is the suspicion that God is not good.” Know and believe in the goodness of God and praise Him for it. In the midst of despair or anxiety, remind yourselves of all of your blessings and of all the ways in which God has led and delivered you in the past. Know the future, though it may come with trials, is bright – God has good plans for you!