What the world labels as depression is often considered to be the deep loss that comes from death, the feelings resulting from a broken relationship, life’s disappointments, the uncertainty of the days we live in, and experiencing the results of the failures of other human beings. However, these feelings are all a part of living in a sin-cursed world.
The truth is almost everyone feels sorrowful, overwhelmed, or hopeless from time to time. David did, Naomi did, and Paul did! However, it is possible that feelings and emotions may be working in complete conflict with the truth. You may feel you have a reason to sorrow when none exists. Your emotions are working, but they are motivated by unbiblical thought and may themselves be unbiblical.
Remember this: it is your response to your depressive feelings that will determine the outcome!
The cycle of depression goes like this:
I have problems and I don’t like what I am going through. This causes me to have and focus on bad feelings which lead to decreased function which leads to more problems, creating a vicious cycle of depression.
We have become a society that has abandoned thought and reason for feeling-oriented living. I rarely hear people express a thought or belief anymore, for many people mislabel their thoughts as feelings. If you spend some time just listening to how others talk, you will begin to notice how much people “feel” everything, even things that are not by definition feelings (e.g., I feel like I should get a raise).
We must always return to this question: Is it biblical to live life by how you feel? I maintain that we must go to the Scriptures to determine this answer and to know how we are to live! It is the only authoritative source of truth. Did Jesus live by feelings? Did He tell the disciples to live that way?
A careful student of the Scriptures will determine that Christ never commanded or suggested that we should live life by our feelings. In fact, the Bible warns us not to live by our emotions. 1 & 2 Peter are heavily concentrated with verses that warn against and give the result of living a feeling-oriented life. I have listed a few of them here for you.
As children who are under obedience, don’t shape your lives by the desires that you used to follow in your ignorance. 1 Peter 1:14 (CCNT)
Dear friends, as resident aliens and refugees, I urge you to keep at a safe distance from the fleshly desires that are poised against your soul like an expeditionary force. 1 Peter 2:11 (CCNT)
As a result, it is now possible to live the remainder of your time in the flesh no longer following human desires, but following God’s will. 1 Peter 4:2 (CCNT)
Since His divine power has given us everything for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one Who called us by His own glory and might (through which He has given to us valuable, indeed, the greatest promises of all, in order that through these you might have become partakers of a divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of desire). 2 Peter 1:4 (CCNT)
Especially those who are following the polluted desire of the flesh and despise ruling authority. 2 Peter 2:10 (CCNT)
“Through uttering impressive-sounding clap-trap, by an appeal to fleshly desires and to impure practices, they bait a trap for persons who have barely escaped from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18, CCNT).
God does not intend that we allow our emotions to rule our lives! I doubt if Jesus felt good all the time, and I doubt if Paul felt good as he bobbed a day and a night in the sea or was laying half dead on the edge of town after being stoned. But none of the followers of Christ allowed their feelings to rule their lives. In fact, Paul said “I beat my body and make it my slave.” We are expected to press on, to fight against the feelings and emotions that want to immobilize us. The Bible graciously teaches us how to respond biblically to the feelings of discouragement and depression because God cares about us and He knows we struggle in this sin-cursed world.
Because this is such a pervasive issue in our world, I am going continue addressing depression and discouragement over the next several entries. I pray you will stick with me through it!