A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading Part Four in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series. Today in Part Four, Ed Welch examines Depression’s Partnership with Death. You can also read Part One in this series by Paul Tautges: 3 Biblical Journey Markers When Working Through Depression. And you can read Part Two, by Dr. Hodges at: Mood, Medicine, and the Value of Emotions. And you can read Part Three, also by Dr. Hodges, at Vitamin D and Depression.
The Death Rattles of Depression
To be depressed is to be entangled by death. That’s why I hate depression. Its victims have found themselves in death’s long shadow and there seems to be no escape. Pain, hopelessness, hellish torments, thoughts of suicide—these are the death rattles that inevitably accompany depression.
But depression can lie. It says that there is no hope, and it is wrong. Jesus has come and has conquered this enemy by facing death and then rising from the dead. We, by faith in Him, join Him in that resurrection. As such, we are people who can look ahead with hope. The challenge is this: if we are going to people of hope, we have no choice but to humble ourselves before the Lord and believe what He says more than believe the myths attached to depression.
A few passages from Hebrews, not typically keyed to depression, can send us in the direction of life.
Moving in the Direction of Life
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death” (Hebrews 5:7). So much is happening in this one verse. Here is our High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
This means that our God is close, and we can approach Him with confidence in the same way that Jesus approached His Father with confidence (Hebrews 4:15-16). We talk to our Lord. We speak from our hearts with tears, and in that we are walking with Him, even imitating Him.
Moving in the Direction of Faith
“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). This verse might seem out of place at first, but it is critical. Faith is a way of seeing—or sensing—the invisible realities that stand behind the visible.
We all gather data about our world and ourselves from our five senses. Through these we can identify the material universe. We can identify what is seen, though we need help to see things unseen. Those who are depressed also gather data through their senses, and that data says that life is merely a step toward death and nothingness. But as we hear God’s words and trust Him, we begin to see beyond things seen and felt to the realities that are invisible and certain. By faith, we believe that we are forgiven, brought into Christ, and are given fellowship with Him, which will be all the richer when we see Him face to face. If you are depressed, ask for help to see the invisible God who is closer and different than you might think.
Moving in the Direction of Seeking God
“Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). This passage reminds us of the interplay between the holy God and us. He initiates, pursues, makes promises, keeps promises, loves with grace and mercy, and says so much to us.
We, in response, can’t be inert or indifferent. We can say amen to all He says and does: we can believe Him and believe in Him. A concrete expression of this belief is to say, “Lord, I believe that You are, and I believe that You give me strength to seek You, and You even bless me as I seek You.”
Walking by Faith
Yes, these verses might seem remote, but we expect that. Everything good seems remote when we live only by what we see and feel. From that limited and distorted vantage point, death overpowers life. So we consider God’s revelation and look further into spiritual realities. Then together, we learn to walk by faith rather than by sight, and we behold Jesus.
Join the Conversation
In the midst of the sadness of life, how do you choose to walk by faith?