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What does God tell us about depression?

Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause intense emotional pain and interfere with daily life. As Christians, our faith in God is an important part of coping with depression. The Bible contains many passages that speak to the issue of depression and offer hope, comfort, and wisdom. In this article, we will explore what God tells us in Scripture about depression and how it can guide us through dark times.

Depression in the Bible

Though the word “depression” is not used, the Bible depicts several individuals who were likely struggling with depressive symptoms. For example, after becoming king, Saul was tormented by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14). David wrote multiple Psalms that describe deep despair and a profoundly low mood. In Psalm 42, he says “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:5). In the New Testament, Jesus’ disciple Judas was so overcome with remorse after betraying Jesus that he committed suicide (Matthew 27:3-5).

While their specific diagnoses are not known, it is clear that mental anguish and suicidal thoughts have plagued humanity for centuries. God understands the depths of human suffering, and Scripture reveals that faith can be a refuge and strength for the depressed.

Depression is Not a Sign of Weak Faith

Some Christians may incorrectly assume that strong faith protects against all despair. However, godly men and women throughout the Bible experienced deep anguish. King David, called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), wrote of his depression and grief. The apostle Paul described feeling burdened and despairing even of life (2 Corinthians 1:8).

Rather than a lack of faith, depression can be the result of living in a fallen, broken world. Until Jesus returns and makes all things new, suffering and illness – including mental illness – will be part of human existence. Experiencing depression does not signify weak faith. In fact, persevering through it can strengthen trust in God.

God Understands Our Pain

Not only does God allow us to experience depression, He understands what we are going through. Isaiah 53:3 prophetically describes Jesus as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” As God incarnate, Jesus bore our weaknesses and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). He was tempted and suffered emotional distress, so He understands and cares about what we go through.

God also promises that as His children, He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Whatever we face, including mental health struggles, God is always by our side strengthening and supporting us. He promises to be our refuge and strength and help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1, Psalm 9:9).

God Hears Our Prayers

One of the most helpful spiritual remedies for depression is prayer. Pouring out our hearts to God, being honest about our pain, and asking for His comfort and healing can provide relief. The Psalms are full of David’s raw, emotional prayers during times of distress. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!” he exclaims in Psalm 130:1.

Though God already knows what we are thinking, voicing our struggles to Him helps us process our emotions. It also reminds us that God cares and hears our cries. Jesus urged His followers to cast all their anxieties on God because He cares for them (1 Peter 5:7). Persistent prayer in faith can help replace feelings of hopelessness with confidence in God’s love.

God’s Truth Combats Lies

Depression often goes hand in hand with distorted thinking. Someone who is depressed may have an overly negative view of themselves, the world, and the future. Biblical truth is powerful for combating the lies we believe when depressed. Passages like Psalm 103:12 remind us that God has removed our transgressions from us. Others state that we are loved (John 3:16), created with purpose (Ephesians 2:10), and comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Immerging ourselves in Scriptures that declare God’s love and redemption can reorient our perspective away from destructive thoughts. Christian counselors sometimes call this “taking every thought captive” based on 2 Corinthians 10:5. Though Depression may cloud our thinking, God’s truth remains constant. Focusing on Bible verses and letting the Holy Spirit renew our minds helps expose lies with God’s light.

Have Hope in God’s Promises

Feelings of hopelessness often accompany depression. Afflicted individuals may believe nothing can make life better. While medical treatment is important, Scripture provides a supernatural hope that circumstances cannot take away. God promises eternal life free of sickness and suffering for those who trust in Christ (Revelation 21:4). Clinging to this promise can provide light even in the darkest times.

The Bible also gives numerous examples of God miraculously healing psychological afflictions in response to prayer. King Saul found relief from his torment when David played music for him (1 Samuel 16:23). God healed a woman’s severe depression at Jesus’ touch (Luke 8:43-48). He can still intervene supernaturally today.

Whatever challenge we face, God promises to renew our strength when we wait on Him (Isaiah 40:31). His light is greater than any darkness. Focusing on the hope Scripture provides can sustain us when depression tempts us to give up.

Depression Can Deepen Our Faith

While depression causes intense hardship, God can also use it for our growth. Struggling with mental health issues can build empathy for others who are suffering. It can drive us to rely more fully on God and His strength when our own fails. As we learn to trust God through the ups and downs, depression can refine and deepen our faith.

Difficult times can also equip us to comfort others with the comfort God provides us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When we come through seasons of depression and are able to look back at God’s faithfulness, it builds perseverance and character for the future (Romans 5:3-4). Expressing gratitude for how God has brought us through develops spiritual maturity.

God’s Grace is Sufficient

One story in the New Testament offers particular encouragement for those battling depression. When he begged God to take away an affliction in his life, the apostle Paul was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Though our suffering is great, God’s grace and strength are greater.

This does not necessarily mean God will immediately take away our depression if we ask. Paul notes that God allowed his “thorn in the flesh” to continue, for a time, so that Paul would rely more completely on divine strength. Likewise, God can use mental health struggles to draw us closer to Him. His grace gives us the power to persevere even when we feel weak.

Support from the Church Body

For Christians suffering from depression, support from fellow believers is also crucial. Isolation tends to exacerbate depression. The church body provides relationships that help counteract this. Members can offer prayer, encouragement, and practical help like providing meals or transportation. For someone who is depressed, even basic social interaction can boost their mood.

Galatians 6:2 urges believers to carry each other’s burdens. God designed the church to function like a family that bears one another’s loads. Being vulnerable about mental health struggles and allowing brothers and sisters in Christ to support us lightens the weight of depression.

Depression Requires a Variety of Treatments

While spiritual practices like prayer and Scripture meditation are hugely beneficial, depression often requires other treatments too. Counseling, medication, lifestyle changes relating to diet, exercise, and sleep can all help symptoms. Christians seeking medical and psychological care are using the wisdom God has allowed humans to develop.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, hospitalization may even be necessary to keep someone safe if suicidal thoughts escalate. Christians should not be ashamed to pursue a wide array of treatments that can alleviate suffering and preserve life. God created our physical and mental health systems for our good.

God Can Redeem Any Trial

For believers affected by depression, we have the assurance that God can use this trial for purposes beyond our understanding. As Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.” Though depression feels overwhelmingly negative, God promises to use every hardship to ultimately strengthen our faith and refine us to become more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).

While we cannot see the future good on this side of eternity, we can trust God’s nature and His promises. Nothing we experience, however painful, falls outside God’s ability to redeem. Living with this hope empowers us to press on in faith through depression’s darkest nights. With God’s help, we can overcome.


Depression afflicts many followers of Christ. Through His Word, God provides comfort, wisdom and hope to believers battling mental health issues. While God allows suffering in a fallen world, He promises never to leave or forsake His children. Scripture encourages those with depression to pray persistently, renew their minds with God’s truth, and rely on grace that is sufficient for all weaknesses. Within the family of Christians, we have a unique support system to help us press on through trials. At all times, we can rest in the assurance that God can work through any hardship for our eternal good. His light shines brightest in our deepest darkness.