Dealing With Depression and Hopelessness

This life is hard.  We all need someone or something to lean on when times are tough.  What’s a Christian to do?

All things happen for a reason, they say.  Last night, I got a very unexpected email about hopelessness and depression, which was from someone who does not read this blog (that I know of), and I want to share my response since it is related to recent discussions.

My dearest, [name removed], I am sorry you are having it so rough.  However, yes, I do know what you mean.  I am having difficulties too, and I can relate even to a few of the same things you are dealing with.

Well, let’s see:  [list of issues removed]

And, that’s just what is on my mind at the moment.  I think you get the idea.

How do I deal with this?  The very first thing is to pray.  A lot.  I know a lot of people will tell you that, but they stop there, don’t they?  It really is not a complete answer.

I came across a saying today.  “Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil.  It has no point.”

We need to pray in order to be reminded of numerous things:

1. First of all, it is not all about us.  We are not the center of the universe.  God created the universe for His pleasure, and He invites us along for the ride.  However, if we do not put our trust in Him, we are not likely to enjoy it very much.

2. There is Someone greater than ourselves.  When we are young, we tend to believe we are invincible.  We act like nothing can hurt us.  We have the rest of our lives to live.  One day, we wake up and realize how fragile life really is.  We begin to really understand that we are not powerful beings at all, but we are at the mercy of much greater forces than ourselves.  Fortunately, one of those forces really does love us and want the best for us – not just now but forever.

3. In order to gain favor with this great Someone, we must put our faith in Him.  He is all powerful, and He can see us through even death itself!

However, that really does not tell us what to pray for, does it?

To get to the root of it all, we need to realize that pain tells us something is wrong.  A child learns that a hot stove can burn them because the pain tells them so.  If a person has a broken leg, the pain will tell them to not put weight upon it.  That keeps them from making it worse.

Emotional pain is not much different, really.  It means something is wrong.  We must come before God and humbly ask Him to show us what is wrong.  We need doctors to diagnose our sicknesses because we cannot be objective enough and knowledgeable enough to do it ourselves.  In fact, we must be humble enough to admit that the problem might be something we are causing.  A bad attitude, selfishness, greed, etc., all can cause pain in ourselves and in others.  However, we will never know unless we are humble enough to admit it.

Even if the pain is not our doing, though, what many people (from what I’ve seen) seem to leave out is to ask God what can we learn from it.  A child may learn that they are in pain every time they put their hand on the hot stove, but if they do not learn how to tell when the stove is hot, then they miss out on the real lesson.  They will either always burn themselves, or they will always avoid it (which makes it difficult to learn how to cook, doesn’t it?).

Let’s not forget thankfulness:

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

~ Php 4:6 (NLT).

It is difficult to be depressed and thankful at the same time.  Even in the worst of circumstances, stop and thank God for what is going right.  Before eating, give thanks to God that you are fed with delicious food.  Before going to bed at night, be thankful that you even have a bed, let alone a roof over your head.

Finally, really just lay out what your worries are to God.  He is bigger than all of them!  However, we should ask Him for the strength and the faith to see it through to the very end.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

~ 1Pe 5:6-7 (NLT)

Notice how God will lift you up “at the right time”.  We often are impatient and want everything taken care of right now.

Prayer is the first thing.  Talking to someone who will listen is the next thing.

One thing I love about Sabbath services is the chance to bend someone else’s ear.  Talking about your problems can lead to less anxiety about them.  Maybe they even have a solution!  If not, asking them to pray for you as well can be a source of comfort.

Of course, there are times when it is helpful to be able to call and talk to someone who cares and will pray for you as well.

Christians are commanded to build each other up, while the rest of the world tries to tear us (and everyone else) down.

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

~ 1Th 5:11 (HCSB)

Not only can they pray for you, but you can pray for them.  This helps us combat selfishness, which is a very difficult thing to do.  When you look at the world’s problems, they all one way or another can be traced back to selfishness.  It is natural for people to be selfish,  so we must actively do something to combat it.

When things are really bad, it helps to fast and meditate upon God’s goodness.  What a loving God He is to create this world full of life everywhere!  Look at the moon, and you see mostly dust and craters.  Look at Mars, the same thing.  No life.  Here, though, we not only have life, but it is everywhere!  Even in the depths of the ocean where nothing should be able to live, we find animal colonies that thrive in extreme conditions.

But, you know, this life is hard.  This is not the kind of world that God intends to last forever.  People suffer.  People are in pain.  However, it will not always be that way.  Yet, He allows it all for a reason.

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

~ Ro 8:28 (HCSB)

People might argue about exactly how God does this, but the important this is that He does!  He causes all things to work together for His will.

This circles back to faith, then.  We have to believe that God is good, God is love, God wants the best for everyone, and God will bring it to pass one day.  He is so loving and so kind that He will even give us faith if we ask for it!

Meditating on the here and now will only bring temporary relief, while meditating on what will be forever will bring forever relief.

Well, this was longer than I intended, and I hope it made sense.  I hope it lifted you up some as well.

John D

9 thoughts on “Dealing With Depression and Hopelessness

  • maiuuislandgirl

    John..thank you for this is much needed by myself and I’m sure others in God’s Church..We are all going through difficult times..especially all the splits that have occurred, separating families , close friends, and’s another way, the Father and Christ are strengthening our faith and trust in Them through all the things you prepare us for what is coming..

    • orange65

      Have read many good articles on this site, however I was so touched by this one I felt I should respond,………………….life is tough!!!, The people of God NEED each other.
      Genuine love and concern , by building each other up will certainly help , I have a very dear friend in a COG who has battled for yrs with depression. In the darkest moments its hard for that person to even process a thought let alone carry a function out, talking can be too much of an effort, but knowing that there are others who genuinly are THERE has been a tremendous blessing to them……..we can only be THERE if friendships are built and trust is gained , this takes plenty of time and effort……………..The Word of God should be the most important thing in our life, His commands are simple, carrying them out in a world that hates it and with an enemy who wants to destroy us is the hard part. When all is completed according to our Fathers plan , one thing shall still be in existance LOVE….1 Cor 13:8…we need to be in training 24/7

  • John G

    John D,

    You wrote: “…This circles back to faith, then. We have to believe that God is good, God is love, God wants the best for everyone, and God will bring it to pass one day. He is so loving and so kind that He will even give us faith if we ask for it!

    Meditating on the here and now will only bring temporary relief, while meditating on what will be forever will bring forever relief…”

    I don’t believe that God will give, automatically upon just simply asking, people faith if they ask for it. If God has already foreknown, predestined, called (Romans 8:29-30) etc. individuals, then God will already provide them faith. If any of them ask for an increase in the fruit of that Spirit, faith, and it is God’s will one receive it, then it’s a done deal with God. He will provide it. He knows our needs and takes care of them, but to “the rest” of the world that is another story. I suspect many, (millions, billions?) over time, have asked for faith and not received it, but based upon a verse I’ll soon quote I believe they eventually will receive it. It all has to do with God’s will and His timing to fulfill His purpose for him/her.
    Depression and hopelessness are a couple of the many evils that exist amongst us human beings, who have all been made subject to vanity…and not by choice (Romans 8:20). If we are not experiencing one evil, we’re experiencing another and learning to come to hate evil(s) to one degree or another.

    “…Meditating on the here and now will only bring temporary relief…”, yes, and that probably pertains to all human beings.

    “…while meditating on what will be forever will bring forever relief…”

    Well, it does so for the mind. For example, we have this thought:

    “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2nd Timothy 1:9

    Done deal! Whether one is suffering from depression or hopelessness in this world currently controlled by the god of depression and hopelessness, that Wicked One, consider all that that verse is saying. God can’t lie, and the verse says that it was “…given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

    I believe that those Firstfruits who are sealed now by God’s Spirit have a deep appreciation for those words in that verse.

    What about “the rest?” After “the rest” come up in the Second Resurrection awake and arise, they too will come to appreciate those words also, despite any depression and hopelessness they had undergone, that they will be so grateful that God was really a God of unconditional love and really knew what He was doing and working out on this earth all along.

    Overall, we all will be witnesses of what it was like to live under Satan’s control, being made subject to vanity, evils, depressions, hopelessnesses of one kind or another. Then God will allow us to know what it will be like to NOT live under all of that satanic “baloney.” God is not a respecter of persons. All will be called, but the timing is all God’s choice and that call, amongst other things, was a done deal “…given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

    But, for most, for now, ……….time will tell. Something like that verse, and there are many others, gives one great comfort, so yes…meditating on what will be forever will bring forever relief…”

    Just a few more thoughts regarding ……. depresion and hopelessness…


    • John D

      John G wrote: “I don’t believe that God will give, automatically upon just simply asking, people faith if they ask for it.”

      Technically, I would agree with you, but only because of a technicality.

      23 Then Jesus said to him, ‘”If You can”? Everything is possible to the one who believes.’
      24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do believe! Help my unbelief.'”
      ~ Mk 9:23-24

      What happened after this? Did Jesus tell him that faith was denied to him because he was not yet called?

      25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly coming together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!’”

      We have no indication that this man was called or ever was called. Yet, he asked for a specific type of faith and received it.

      It is not safe to assume what God will and will not do even for the uncalled during this lifetime.

  • Todd Sauve
    Todd Sauve

    Depression is a very bad thing. I suffer from it a fair amount due to chronic pain and diabetes, and a number of other things from my past. Paul said that one of the reasons God allows us to fall under its influence from time to time is so that he can show us how to escape it and thereby be able to help others do so also when the the “black dog” comes to visit them. (Quoting Churchill.)

    I’ll try to remember your depression in my prayers John.

    • John D

      Thanks, Todd, but please realize that my friend needs more prayers than I at the moment, and also this post was prompted as a follow-up to how we should be dealing with those in pain and suffering rather than taking potshots at individuals or the organizations they belong to.

  • Big Red
    Big Red

    I suffered a number of injuries in my work over the years, so I deal with a lot of chronic pain in joints and tendons. Depression isn’t the right word for it. It’s more like getting grouchy and tired of it, because it gets old after awhile. But I figure, skip it. I’m just going to “keep on keeping on.” This old dog isn’t going to stop.

  • Big Red
    Big Red

    And no, my previous comment doesn’t support Malm. It’s wrong to kick somebody when they’re down. What you do is pick the person up, and limp together like a three legged race. Or like that famous painting from the Revolutionary war, with all the wounded guys marching together.

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