Depression is a growing concern. It plagues young people as adults. And Christians are certainly not immune. For most people, depression can be traced to some difficult circumstances. But some suffer chronically and with no discernible cause (aka clinical depression). Every part of us has been affected by the presence of sin in the world. And many are able to benefit from medications. But depression also has a spiritual component. Scripture provides examples of godly people who suffered with depression and patterns for how to deal with it in our own lives. The Puritan, Richard Baxter, offered several insightful directives to the depressed.*
Directive I – “See that no error in religion be the cause of your distress.” Make sure that you have not bought into any lies regarding who God is or who you are.
Directive VII – “Avoid all unnecessary solitariness, and be as much as possible in honest, cheerful company.” Don’t isolate yourself to the point where you wallow in your own thoughts. Prioritize consistent friendships where you can gain perspective and encouragement.
Directive VIII – “When blasphemous or disturbing thoughts look in, or fruitless musings, presently meet them, and use that authority of reason which is left you, to cast them and command them out.” Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself. Don’t allow negative thought patterns to be replayed in your mind.
Directive XI – “Think and speak as much of the mercy which you have received, as of the sin you have committed…” It is easy to beat ourselves up over our sinful choices. Consciously remember God’s grace and forgiveness.
Directive XVIII – “Be sure that you keep yourself constantly employed (as far as your strength will bear) in the diligent labours of a lawful calling; and spend none of your time in idleness.” Stop sitting around thinking about yourself and get to work serving others.
* Richard Baxter, The Christian Directory, 264-266.
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