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We all know there has been a problem in our culture when it comes to talking about and encouraging help for those who struggle with mental illnesses. Depression is so common among us, and yet we discuss it so very little. Ironically the bible has plenty to say about depression, sadness, and heaviness.
I am of the belief that seasons of depression will find us all and that there is nothing wrong, abnormal or scary about that if we as the church do our job to make sure that our people are ready to endure and triumph over the things that life will inevitably throw at us.
I am someone who has struggled a great deal with depression throughout my life. I tend to have an abundance of huge emotions swirling all the time and at time sadness can be an overwhelming and familiar companion. Throughout my struggles, I have compiled verses of depression that encourage me and help to lift me out of that pit of despair and sorrow.
I know these verses help as I have also shared them with other in trying times and seen the encouragement these truths brought to them. Without further ado, here are some encouraging bible verses for depression and the heavy hearted.
Disclaimer: I have to disclose the obvious. I am not a doctor nor am I currently a practicing psychologist. If you are struggling with depression, reach out to someone in your life. You need someone with you as you work through this. I know there can be a shame associated with being depressed and being a believer but your life is too valuable and depression is too serious to not have someone in your corner. Reach out to someone and know that depression happens and there is nothing to be ashamed about. Also, I believe that most depression is spiritual, and that is why I am sharing scriptural truths to claim over yourselves, but I also know that some cases of depression are medical and chemical based so don’t be ashamed of also seeking medical help. There is no shame in needing help as we work through difficult seasons. I am a massive advocate of Christian counseling. I think we could all use a little counseling at some point in our lives.
1 Kings 19:5-8 NKJV
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
Elijah was a great prophet, and even he went through a season that looks a whole lot like depression to me. He went to an emotional high to an emotional low.
I love this passage because it shows you God’s heart towards His children when they’re overwhelmed with sadness and depression.
Elijah told God that he wanted to die and God came alongside him and gave him the strength to live. He fed him to strengthen him physically, and he was able to go 40 whole days traveling on foot with that supernatural strength. God also told him multiple times to rest and even sent an angel to comfort him by being physically present.
Just days before Elijah called down fire from heaven and shocked the nation and convinced them to turn back to God. Now in the wilderness, God shows up again, but instead of with fire and power, He shows up with love and tenderness that is mindblowing to me.
God does the same for us today. There is no shame in where you are, and God will come alongside you and strengthen you to get up and keep living the abundant life He has laid out before you.
Also, note Elijah’s problem. He lost focus. He allowed fear in. His trust in God’s ability to protect and care for him wavered. He let discouragement cloud his perspective. Also, note that God’s steadfast and unconditional love did not hesitate to meet Elijah where he was. God’s love for you does not lessen when you struggle either, and He won't hesitate to meet you in your circumstances and draw you out.
Psalm 42:5 TPT
So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!
I LOVE Psalm 42, and I suggest that if you are struggling you read the whole Psalm. I HIGHLY suggest you check it out in The Passion Translation which Mike and I are obsessed with. It's such a refreshing newer translation. (The Kindle version is usually only like $8! So worth it.)
I singled this verse out because I love David and I love how he chose to handle his soul. He’s just like “Soul! What is your problem?! Why are you so down? Why are you depressed?!” (My Andriana Translation. You are welcome.) He knew he was in charge of his soul.
The soul is that messy part of us that is made up of our thoughts and emotions. David tells his soul to hope in God. I think there is power in telling your soul what to think. There is power in your thought life.
If you are continually meditating on how depressed you are, you will likely stay that way. However, if you start telling yourself no when those thoughts creep up and instead focus on God, in my experience depression tends to flee a heck of a lot sooner!
Remind your mind that your emotions do not define you! You are not a victim of your own emotions! Tell yourself how good God is. Find scriptures that describe God’s nature and meditate on those! We have a whole post on How To Avoid Being Taken Hostage By Your Emotions that you can check out here.
2 Corinthians 10:5 TPT
We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.
I know this may not be what you want to hear. Trust me I get it. When you are sad and depressed the last thing you want to be told is that you can take some responsibility for your mind. When I am depressed, really I want to wallow in a dark room and be told that my life is as hard or empty as I have believed it is.
But what I need to hear in those times and what you need to hear in those times is that you can fight. You can learn the discipline of taking every thought captive, and we can force our minds to think in obedience to what Jesus says of us.
Bill Johnson always says (something along the lines of) "I never want to have a thought about me that He doesn't have about me." We can discipline ourselves to see ourselves, others and our circumstances the way that God sees them. That will require work.
You will have to learn to read scripture regularly. You will need to learn to meditate on verses that pertain to who He says He is and who He says you are. (And again, The Passion Translation is such a great version for this!) You will have to learn to memorialize your victories and His faithfulness by keeping a record of what He's done for you. Also, you'll have to learn to pray and hear from Him so you can grow in intimacy with Him.
Philippians 4:8 TPT
So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.
This verse reiterates my last point. There is great power in what you allow to take up residence in your mind. Depression is a mental battle. It takes place on the battlefield that is your mind.
It is not easy to retrain your mind to only think about things that would fall under these categories. It starts with baby steps and will require that you be kind to yourself as you learn this discipline.
Practice catching your mind wandering and choose to instead think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy!
Hebrews 10:24-25 TPT
Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.
If you struggle with depression, you know that depressed people tend to isolate themselves from others.
We were created to be communal beings, and I believe that when we isolate ourselves and cut ourselves off from community, we make it easier for wild things to fester and grow in our lives and cause harm and depression is one of them.
You need to have believers in your life to stir you up! You can’t allow yourself to stay in your mess all alone. That was the whole point of the local church back when it all began. We are to be there for those that are down, lifting them up and next time we are in that place, they will do the same for us.
The church is supposed to be this place where you come when you're all banged up and broken from life's tumultuous seasons. You come to the church to be encouraged, cleaned up and strengthened in the Lord and reminded of His goodness and sent back out! Don’t cut yourself off from this lifeline. Surround yourself with people who will point you to the love of God!
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scriptures for depression. I encourage you to keep searching. God has so much to say about the subject.
Regardless of where you are today, know this: You are not alone. God is for you. He is with you. He is not intimidated by your pain, doubts or struggles. Your current circumstances do not change His love for you. He will see you through.
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Be kind to yourself this week and remember you are wildly loved.