You Are Not Alone: 4 Bible Characters Who Experienced Depression
Updated: Mar 28, 2022
"You’re a Christian. Christians don’t suffer from depression. You have the joy of Christ.” Ever heard that one before? It may have felt like a slap in the face against real feelings you have been experiencing. However, these innocently spouted words couldn’t be farther from the truth. We live in a fallen world. There are many people in the Bible who showed signs of experiencing extreme persistent sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. Let’s look at their stories and how they sought God during these difficult times.
Scripture: “And now my life seeps away.
Depression haunts my days.
At night my bones are filled with pain,
which gnaws at me relentlessly.”
- Job 30:16-17
Context: If you were to look on Instagram and think, Wow, that guy has it all, back in ancient times, you would be looking at Job. He had the money, the family, and he was just an all-around great guy. But one day, Job was put to the test. He lost his children and his wealth all in one day. His wife gave up on him, and his health became poor, as well. Talk about a rough time. Job sat on the ground for seven days and could not speak or eat. Friends at first tried to console him, but to no avail. Once he began to finally speak, said he wished he had never been born because his pain was so great. He felt as if he had nothing left to live for.
Then, his friends began to turn on him, saying that he or his family must have done something so wrong that God was taking out His wrath on Job. Hint: If your friend is super down in the dumps, this would NOT be the right thing to say. And Job is totally in his head at this point. Nothing else exists but his grief. Even if his friends had given words of comfort, they would not have been well-received. Job had reached the limit of what he could handle.
Seeking God: Throughout Job’s sufferings, he took moments to praise and to question God. He knew he had done nothing to anger the Lord and did not understand why he had to endure so much suffering. And God used this time to allow Job to seek Him and to trust Him on a whole new level. Several chapters of Job recount his crying out to the Lord. God responds in Chapter 38 with words of His power and sovereignty. After being completely broken before God, Job was able to climb out of the pit he had fallen into. God doubled His blessings on Job from before, and Job was able to live a “long, full life” (Job 42:17).
Scripture: “Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.”
- Psalm 69:1-3
Context: Raise your hand if you knew David, the “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) battled depression. David constantly encountered guilt, betrayal, and death in his lifetime. King Saul was always trying to kill him. His best friend Jonathan passed away in battle. He lost an infant son after taking another man’s wife. Another of his sons, Absalom, tried to take over David’s throne, and all David was concerned about was his relationship with his son during the attempted abdication! He saw more battles than a person ever should.
Imagine all this piling on you mentally over the years. It’s enough to make a person break.
Psalm 6:6 describes David’s emotional turmoil:
“All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;”
Seeking God: We see in Psalm 13 the progression of David turning his thoughts from darkness to light.
Step 1: He begins by asking,
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?"
At first, he cannot see past the mountain of his emotions. He feels hopeless and alone. We
know that God is not hiding from David, but David just can’t see it in the moment.
Step 2: We start to see a glimmer of hope in David’s soul as he tells the Lord in vs. 3 and 4,
“Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death..."
This is a huge breakthrough for David as he is asking God to help him out of his desire to
sleep away the worries of the world. His mindset is beginning to shift toward hope and
Step 3: In vs. 5 and 6, David bursts out in song to the Lord:
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.”
His heart has turned to rejoicing His Savior. His mourning has begun to turn into dancing.
While David sinks into this state of mind several times throughout the Scriptures, he always
clings to the Lord, looking to Him for help and restoration.
Scripture: “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed;
I mourn, and horror grips me.”
- Jeremiah 8:21
Context: Jeremiah lived during a time where the kingdom of Judah wanted nothing to do with God. He was called by God at a young age to perform a special assignment: tell Judah what they’re doing wrong and what God’s going to allow to happen to them if they don’t change their ways. Oh, and never get married. Yikes. That’s a tough calling to take on. Jeremiah had a difficult time during the 40 years he lived as a prophet, preaching during the reign of the last four kings of Judah. He begged and pleaded for the people of Judah to listen to God. But instead, they spit at him, mocked him, and put him in prison. Eventually, Jeremiah saw a blood bath as Babylon overtook Judah. No wonder he is known as the “weeping prophet”.
Seeking God: While Judah wanted nothing to do with Jeremiah, God wanted everything to do with him. Jeremiah constantly ran to God in his loneliness, desperation, and sorrow. And God continued to restore Jeremiah’s soul. God gave Jeremiah constant reminders of hope, the most famous being Jeremiah 29:11:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Perhaps not as well known is God’s words to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 33:6-9:
“‘...I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.
I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their
sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before
all nations on earth.’”
God’s promises were a constant balm on Jeremiah’s hurting heart. Even if Jeremiah would not see it in person, he knew that one day God would provide restoration after such destruction.
Scripture: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
- 2 Corinthians 1: 8-9
Context: Paul never did anything halfway. After his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he never looked back. Such zeal quickly brought him into the hands of persecutors. While visiting Macedonia, he took no time for rest (2 Corinthians 7:5). In Asia, he and his companions experienced such pain that they thought they would no longer live. In 2 Corinthians 11, he mentions being shipwrecked, beaten with rods, stoned, hunger, and thirst. He speaks of sleepless nights and the anxiety he felt for the Church. He continues in 2 Corinthians 12 to say he has been given a thorn in his flesh that torments him.
Such suffering cannot come without a side of depression.
Seeking God: Every time Paul mentions his sufferings in the Bible, it is surrounded by the hope and strength he finds in Christ. He asked the Lord several times to take away his sufferings, but God allows it to continue so that He may use it to show His power and strength in Paul’s life. Paul learns to use his suffering as an opportunity to brag about God. He even says he “takes delight” in them if it will allow God to use him (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
Suffering from depression does not make you less godly than anyone else. Just like God did with these amazing people in the Bible, God can use you just as you are to display His power and His strength.
I want to be clear-we turn to God in our suffering. But then we also turn to others for help. If you are feeling despair and disinterest in life, while God is our ultimate Healer, He has given humans the tools needed to counsel those suffering from depression and He has given us amazing medical advances to help those who need medical treatment.
For some, he will take away the feelings of despair while on this Earth, while others will continue the battle throughout their time here. Whatever path He has laid out for you, just remember-He is good. All the time. How cool will it be to one day see how He used our suffering for our good and for His glory!
Looking for songs about going to God in the midst of difficult times?
Check out these songs from Red Letter Society:
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