BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the fifth in a five-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on biblical counseling and depression. Few issues are more painful. God’s Word provides us with wisdom for addressing depression with compassion so we can care well and wisely. You can read Part One by Andy Farmer here, Part Two by Hayley Satrom here, Part Three by Bob Kellemen here, and Part Four by Paul Tautges here.
Depression and anxiety are sisters. They live together and talk to one another incessantly. They drive each other insane, but can’t live apart. It’s a match made in hell. All of us experience it to some degree. No one can escape it.
The experience of anxiety is complex and varies by degrees. It often expresses itself as a dull, aching sense that things are not going to work out well. The future is uncertain. Sometimes you may lose your appetite and can’t eat. You can’t get out of your own mind. The world is caving in on itself and you feel helpless and out of control. Anxiety can then bleed into depression. Feeling helpless can move towards feeling hopeless.
The experience of depression is equally complex and varies by degrees, as well. Everything feels hopeless. You feel stuck. Unlike anxiety, the future isn’t even on the radar. You don’t feel like doing anything. There is an absence of desire. You feel flat. Is there something you can eat or drink that will take the edge off? The weather, or time of year may contribute to your depression. It’s not worth living. Who cares? Then you start to care. You get up and move and have a fleeting emotion. Hope? No…Yes. Do something…then anxiety returns. What will, might, could happen? You don’t know. You are back to feeling anxious.
Statistics reveal that the highest prescribed medications are the ones designed to treat anxiety and depression. That should tell us something. This struggle is not unique and we all need help.
Some Beginning Words of Counsel…
So what do you believe? What do you do? How do you avoid the twin errors of behaviorism (“Just do it!”) or passivism (“Let go and let God”)? Here are a few beginning thoughts. They are humble suggestions and not a full treatment of these difficult struggles.
- You can’t do this alone. You need someone who can walk with you through this season of difficulty.
- Be patient with yourself. Shame can creep in and do more damage. You are not alone in this and you are not “abnormal.” You are experiencing your own brokenness and the brokenness into which you were born (Romans 8:22-25)
- Look up. Ask Jesus to give you the strength to look to Him. This conversation needs to bleed into the other suggestions. You are always in covenant with Jesus. You are talking to Him all day. Any doing without talking to God will lead to behaviorism. Any talking without doing will lead to passivism (Psalm 130).
- Press into the day and ask God for grace to move forward. It may start pretty low. You may not even want to eat. By God’s powerful grace, take simple steps of faith. Ask Him to help you. Talk to Him and consider Him who suffered and who was “made like you in every way” (Hebrews 2:14-18).
- Press into the day and get out and spend time with others. Get in the company of people who care for you and love you. It will feel like you are pushing yourself to do something that is very awkward and unnatural. That is faith at work. Faith in Jesus moves you to do what is not natural. As you do this, talk to Him (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Find people who need the love of Christ and serve them in simple ways. Cook a meal. Write a note. Ask to care for children of parents who could use a well-needed break. Look for the lowly and poor. God will bless you as you move towards others in need. Keep talking to Him (John 13:1-17).
This is a picture of active faith that is animated by a deep knowledge that the God of the universe loves you deeply and is committed to you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Allow for days of struggle. Life is hard but God is good.
You will experience the ebb and flow of faith, so don’t let the ebb and flow deceive you into thinking that you are not growing or walking by faith. The ebb and flow is not on God’s end. His love for you remains steadfast.
Join the Conversation
What additional beginning words of counsel would you suggest for those struggling with the sister emotions of anxiety and depression?