On Defining Depression…May 16, 2012
Webster’s defines depression as: “an act of depressing or a state of being depressed: as a (1) : a state of feeling sad (2) : a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide.”
Fundamentally though, depression is the emotional experience of the perceived absence of God’s love and affection; that stems from guilt, sadness, fear, or isolation; resulting in prolonged sorrow and inward anger.This affliction affects both Christians and non-Christians alike.
We must remember why we were created. Human beings were not created to exist in isolation, human beings were not created to live for themselves; rather, Mankind was created by God, in His image, to exercise dominion over creation and share communion with God, enjoying Him forever. Sin however, corrupts this plan, sin comes between us and our emotional experience of being in and enjoying God’s presence. Consider Adam and Eve in the garden; once sin occurs they scurry and flee from God, covering themselves in shame and hiding from the One who calls to them in love.
For those without God: Apart from God man feels fear, confusion of purpose, and discouragement, this is the experience of every one of us apart from Christ. This fear and discouragement lead us to seek comfort in every quarter of the world, and when we have exhausted all the world has to offer in terms of comfort, depression begins to set in.
For the Christian: Depression sets in when we no longer perceive the presence of God’s love. This does not mean that His love is absent or that our hope is invalid, we simply cannot feel the warmth of His hope emotionally. Sin obscures this hope, guilt clouds our view of God, disappointment in others and in ourselves binds our hope and afflicts our souls.
Depression may arise out of spiritual angst, physical deformity or perhaps biological imbalance. Concerning biology it is important to remember that the Fall affected not only our standing with God but the very fabric of our human physical existence. The fractures of creation spread across human spirituality, human physiology, human biology and human interaction, like a shattered windshield, until every inch of the surface is obscured. Man in his wisdom and by God’s grace, has developed ways, medically, to address perceived diagnosed biological causes for depression. And just like taking aspirin for headaches many may be able to find some portion of relief through medical means. That having been said, too often Christians and non-Christians resort to medical solutions without ever turning to the Bible, their local church, or to God to address their depression.
For all those who experience depression, the greatest resource we possess is God revelation of His love for us through His word. This revelation speaks to His eternal purpose for our lives; His love and grace which overcomes our sin; His promise seen in the future return of His son, in which we place all our hope. (1 Peter 1:13) Often when going through depression, we find little comfort in these truths, but the Word gives us an anchor that is eternal, imperishable, unbreakable, powerful, and sure to moor our lives to and ground our unstable emotions. If one does not know Christ, the first step is to repent believe and be baptized, confess Christ and experience the joy of God’s love found in His grace through Christ. For those of us who do know Christ, we must continually confront our downcast souls with the command repeated over and over again to “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Ps. 42)
Read on and take comfort in the death of depression through our HOPE in God.