How do we respond to anxiety and depression? Depression is one of those emotional conditions most people don’t want to talk about, but the reality is that it affects us all at some point. We are body, soul, and spirit, and we need to take care of our physical, emotional and spiritual health. The God we serve can affect all those areas. He can heal us physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Depression is a widespread problem that can be brought on by many different things—trauma, bad news, stress, loss, separation. Symptoms include fatigue, sleep disorders, irritability, inability to concentrate, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, trouble making decisions , and most of all, isolation. Have you ever had one of those days when you wanted to crawl into a hole and not face the world? Isolation is brought on by shame. We think something is wrong with us, and we don’t want anyone to know.
Adam and Eve messed up when they did the one thing God told them not to do (Genesis 3:7). Instead of pressing into God in that moment, they hid from him, ashamed. Sin doesn’t cause God to leave us; it causes us to leave God. God still showed up in the garden at the appointed time, but it was Adam and Eve who isolated themselves from Him.
Why do we get the feeling that God is against us when He isn’t? When we sin, guilt sets in. Guilt leads to shame, shame leads to separation from God, and separation from God leads to an unhealthy fear of Him. This is the solid struggle, the battle with shame that leads to isolation. You’re hurting and depressed, going through a tough time, and you’re afraid to tell anybody. But there’s a God in heaven who wants to say, “Shame OFF you.” God never hides because of anything we’ve done or anything that’s happened to us, and He is never angry with us when we’re depressed. The question is whether we will face this struggle with or without God. The uncommon response to depression is to invite God into it.
We may not know why, but we can know that God is working in our depression and our anxiety for our good. Romans 8:26-27 says that “the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” The Holy Spirit touches those painful areas in our hearts like depression and speaks to God on our behalf. And God blends those circumstances—the loss, the anxiety, the trauma—together into something that ultimately benefits and blesses us.
You might be saying that you’ve had the year from hell, that nothing is working out, or that no one could possibly understand the dark depression you live with. How could any good possibly come from those things? But that’s human thinking. God causes even those things to work for our good if we let Him in. It’s time to come out of isolation. It’s time to say, “God is my hope and my help in the midst of my depression.”
Watch the full sermon here.