Depression is often just a normal part of life. Jesus mentioned his distress when he said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished." (Luke 12:50) He knew he was going to be crucified. Feeling distressed about that was natural, being that he was also fully human.
But even when depression lingers, we don't have to feel helpless. Here are some brief thoughts on the subject of depression, which many of us struggle with, some more often than others.
How does God change us? How does he take us from depressed thinking to joyful or at least hopeful thinking?
Paul tells us how God changes us in his letter to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 3:18
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
The clear statement in the verse above says that we are transformed by beholding the glory of God. How does that work? How does one look at the glory of God? When Moses beheld the glory of God it changed his appearance.
Think of it like this. Florida may be the sunshine state, but Californians are no strangers to sunny days. When I was young, people went out in the sun on purpose, because exposing themselves to the glory of the sun darkened the hue of their skin. It was even called sunbathing. Now, us skin-cancer ignorant beach bums didn't do anything but expose ourselves to the rays of the sun. And we were changed.
The glory of God works like that (but it doesn't give you freckles). God is glorified by his attributes. They work like the rays of the sun. It's like this -- God is glorified by being forgiving. When we focus on (or behold) how God has forgiven us, we become more forgiving toward others.
Now, you can apply this to practically any issue you're dealing with, but in this case let's focus on depression. I have a little Bible app that lets me search for words or phrases in the Bible. If you have something like that, put in the word "dismayed," which means depressed. My results showed me there are 47 verses with this word. You can thumb through them and find two or three that jump out.
8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
It's not just that God is omnipresent, but he is present with you. He is by your side and he promises to never leave your side. That's a good reason to not fear the future or be discouraged about it.
Let's try another one.
15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's.
What gigantic thing is coming against you? What is it? A job? A boss? Financial trouble? Health? The foster to adopt process? Whatever great challenge you're facing, God says the battle is not yours, but his. That's a bit of a pick-me-up.
Now, that's a way of fighting depression directly. It is an offensive attack, because you're intentionally focusing (or beholding) facts that can alter how you feel.
Here's another little experiment to try if you're feeling depressed. Find five verses as to what kind of life Jesus wants for you.
Finish this statement: He gave his life, so you could have this kind of life.
Yeah, you'll have to do some homework. You'll have to crack open your Bible or light up your Bible app or Google or search your concordance. But find some verses with the word "life."
Here are a couple possibilities:
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
He gave his life, so you could have an anxiety-free life. Now, if anxiety-free is too extreme for you, try secure. That verse pretty much says God wants you to feel secure about your life.
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
He gave his life, so you could have eternal life. As Mark Dever once said, "We're not going to hell. Everything else is a cakewalk."
Okay, find three more and then bathe in them. Scripturebathe. Behold them. Because while you're beholding them, you're beholding your God and what makes him glorious.
This will change you.
Degree by degree.