• Jesus Loves the Broken

It's a dark pool; sometimes the water rises like a wave and overwhelms you, sometimes you manage to swim—but your feet are always wet.

It's a black dog, sometimes pulling at the leash, sometimes biting your hand, sometimes sitting in the corner—but it's always there. 1

Depression is a common reality, regardless of sex, race, or age group. Depression is an equal opportunity provider; it can happen to anyone.

Sadness. Anger. Irritable. Frustrated. Tired. Disinterested. Anxious. Guilty. While everyone experiences these emotions at some point, what if you can't move past them? Or what if you don't feel anything at all? The change in sleeping habits, those feelings of worthlessness, that difficulty concentrating or remembering…. If you're stuck in any or all of these, you may suffer from depression. 2

And you wouldn't be alone. If the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is correct, 9 percent of the American population suffers from depression. 3 In addition:

  • 8 percent of persons twelve years or older (6 percent of males and 10 percent of females) report having current depression.
  • Across every age group, females have higher rates of depression than males.
  • Forty to fifty-nine-year-old males have higher rates of depression (7 percent) than males sixty or older (5 percent).
  • Forty to fifty-nine-year-old females have higher rates of depression (12 percent) than females twelve to seventeen years old (8 percent) and females sixty or older (7 percent). 4

Depression is a common reality, regardless of sex, race, or age group. Depression is an equal opportunity provider; it can happen to anyone.

And sadly, depression can lead to deeper problems, including suicide, cutting, and drug abuse. 5 Concerning the latter, Dr. David Brendel wrote, "There is a very close relationship between depression and substance abuse in adults. The two conditions are highly comorbid, which is to say that they occur together in an extremely high percentage of individuals. There are a number of different ways that this occurs. Substance abuse can cause depression and depression can cause substance abuse." 6

Maybe you suffer from depression. Maybe you believe that depression is something Christians shouldn't experience, and that thought heaps guilt onto your life. But this is not the case: Christians do suffer from depression. We are human, not spiritual robots.

The good news is that Jesus loves the broken and depressed. Jesus died for the brokenhearted, the outcasts, and the wounded. Jesus loves you and yearns for you to turn to Him in moments of dejection, despair, and despondency—in all times, really: in moments of fear, joy, trust, and pleasure. Jesus wants us in any condition, in any state, and at every moment.

Define

The Oxford English Dictionary defines depression as "feelings of severe despondency and dejection." 7 Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin wrote, "Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression is the more severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder." 8

The Mayo Clinic defines depression as "a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest…. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn't worth living." 9

Discover

Many people in the Bible fought depression, and this should produce empathy among Christians and dispel the idea that Christians can't or shouldn't be depressed. Godly men and women have fought this very real emotional state of being: Job, Hannah, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, and others faced depression at some point, often while serving God.

Here's a sampling of heart-cries and encouragement for the broken and depressed:

  • ​"I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. ​​I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved" (Psalm 16:7-8).
  • "Why are you cast down, O my soul? ​​And why are you disquieted within me? ​​Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him ​​for the help of His countenance. ​​O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You" (Psalm 42:5-6).
  • "My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26).
  • "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
  • "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).
  • "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. ​​The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:17-18).
  • "A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You. ​​Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; incline Your ear to me; in the day that I call, answer me speedily. ​​For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned like a hearth. ​​My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. ​​Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. ​​I am like a pelican of the wilderness; ​​I am like an owl of the desert. ​​I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop. My enemies reproach me all day long; those who deride me swear an oath against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, because of Your indignation and Your wrath; for You have lifted me up and cast me away. ​​My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass" (Psalm 102:1-11).
  • "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isaiah 26:3).
  • "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
  • "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7, NLT).

 

Develop

In his forthcoming booklet on depression, Pastor Skip Heitzig offers practical and biblical insight to help the Christian develop a plan for battling depression. Below is an excerpt.

"If you are experiencing depression, or are reaching out to someone who is, there are many great resources to assist you. I've mentioned a short booklet I wrote several years back that gives practical and biblical advice. Using the life of Elijah as an example, I recommend exercise and rest, change of emotional and mental perspectives, and setting realistic expectations.

"My friend Josh McDowell has a wonderful book called Handbook on Counseling Youth that provides great insight—both biblically and medically—into a host of problems people face, including depression. I also recommend Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book, Spiritual Depression.

"I've also been exposed to practical counsel from other Christian teachers and authors. My only piece of advice is that any insight you get from people be both biblically based and medically supported.

"Your understanding of depression should form the basis of a plan to reach a person with the love of God, whether it is someone you know or someone you have yet to meet. Use the acronym LOVE as a guide:

"L—Listen to people. Make a sincere effort to get to know them and their situation.
O—Observe their life. Where are they coming from—emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually? Find the root of the issue. Ask yourself, How can I assist them?
V—Voice God's truth. What does the Bible teach concerning the topic, trouble, temptation or trespass?
E—Embrace them with the love of God in Christ. Empathize based on shared experiences, but keep Jesus the focus of your conversation and outreach.

"To summarize some key thoughts, I'll conclude with another acronym: REST.

"R—Relationships. Surround yourself with loving, caring Christians. Have them pray for you and encourage you. Allow your godly relationships to help with priorities and the problems of life.
E—Exercise. With a doctor's approval, find something to do physically. Work toward relieving the stress with good old-fashioned sweat.
S—Scripture. Turn to the Bible to find comfort and answers. Allow God to speak to you through His Word.
T—Trust. You must place yourself squarely in God's hands, trusting Him to help you overcome all the trials of life—including depression. Trust is based on faith, not certainty. As the psalmist said in Psalm 42 and 43, 'Hope in God.' Jesus put it this way: 'Seek first the kingdom of God' (Matthew 6:33). Trust that the King of the kingdom knows His citizens and will care for them. Give your worries, your anxieties, your fears, your sorrows, over to Jesus; He has it under control, paid for by a crown of thorns 10 that will one day be for the Christian the crown of life. 11" 12

Jesus loves the broken. Will you?

 


1 World Health Organization, "I had a black dog, his name was depression," October 2, 2012, accessed 1/14/15.

2 Mayo Clinic, "Depression (major depressive disorder)," 2015, accessed 1/14/15.

3 Bill Hendrick, "How Many in U.S. Are Depressed?," September 30, 2010, accessed 1/14/15.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, January 6, 2012, accessed 1/14/15.

5 WebMD, "Untreated Depression," 2015, accessed 1/14/15.

6 David Brendel, "What Is The Relationship Between Depression And Substance Abuse?," February 27, 2008, accessed 1/14/15.

7 Oxford English Dictionary, "Depression," 2015, accessed 1/14/15.

8 Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, "What does the term 'clinical depression' mean?," March 5, 2014, accessed 1/15/15.

9 Mayo Clinic, "Depression (major depressive disorder)," 2015, accessed 1/14/15.

10 See Matthew 27:29.

11 See Revelation 2:10; see also Revelation 21-22.

12 Skip Heitzig, Overcoming Depression, Connection Communications, 2015.