I have been a Christian, or more accurately a Christ-follower, since I was 4 years old. I have fought with depression since I was 14. Surprising, isn’t it? Well, depression has a lot of stigma around it even today. Christians are viewed as judgemental even by other Christians. The Bible says that God will provide for all of our needs. The Bible also says that we (Christians) will face many trials and tribulations. The Bible doesn’t say that our lives will be happy ones, but that we should choose to live in joy and peace.
While the verse is talking about tithing, and giving generously, 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” Do you think that this is limited to physical needs such as food and clothing? I don’t. I think the key word there is “all”. Our needs as human beings are much more complex than physical. God is also all-knowing and created us in His image. That tells me that He knows more about our needs than we could ever fathom.
1 Peter 1:6 says, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.” Wait. What? Many trials? You mean this isn’t a one-time thing? Nope! This means that we will go through a lot in our lives. I mean A. Lot! Depression isn’t a one-time thing. Depression, well the type I have and that is seen as stereotypical, is a lifelong battle. And I do mean battle. There is so much that has to be done for depression: psychiatrists, medications, counseling, journaling, self-monitoring, and the list goes on. More than likely depression isn’t the only thing going on either. Depression tends to bring along its friends and that brings more fighting.
But! The writer of first Peter goes on. He writes in 1 Peter 1:7 “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” That’s all well and good, right? So I will have to fight depression and its friends for my entire life? And it’s just a test? Great.
Mayo Clinic defines depression as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety or emotional and physical problems. Sounds fun, right? But it’s just a trial. Ok.
Oxford Languages defines “happy” for us: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. But wait! The Bible doesn’t say to live in happiness. It says to live in joy. Well, let’s define joy then. Our friend Oxford Languages says that joy is a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. Huh. Well. Let’s come back to that. Wait! I’ve heard people describe happiness as fleeting and joy as longer-lasting. I can work with that.
Let’s look at peace. Oxford Languages is getting a workout for this post. They say that peace is freedom from disturbance; tranquility. Well. Thanks.
Depression, or any other illness (mental or physical), isn’t because of anything we’ve done. There is a chemical imbalance in our brains that needs correction. But it is not a flaw. It is a test of our faith. That doesn’t mean I don’t take medication for help. On the contrary, I take quite high dosages of medications to keep myself on an even keel. But I don’t complain about having depression. Because I know that not taking medication is a sure-fire way to fail the test. God gave us scientists and doctors. Not listening to my doctor about my depression would be the same as me telling God that I don’t have faith in Him.
So all of these things – depression, joy, and peace – are diametrically opposed. So now what? Well, that’s where God comes in. God sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins – the wrongs we’ve done in our lives. If we accept God, and Jesus Christ, into our lives then we can choose joy because we will have eternal life in Heaven and we will be rewarded for our faith there. Eternal life with God in Heaven is a wonderful reason to be full of joy.
Peace. I have peace despite my depression. I have peace because I know that this life is temporary. I have peace because I know that I will one day live with God in Heaven. I know that Heaven will be glorious. I know that Heaven will be perfect. I know there will be no sickness – physical or mental – in Heaven. So yes, this lifelong trial is temporary.
That doesn’t mean I don’t slip. That doesn’t mean that I am always happy or joyful or peaceful. That doesn’t mean I don’t get angry about my depression. That means I am human. But then I remember that as a Christian, this is all temporary. And I pray. I pray for help. I pray for peace. I pray for patience. I pray for joy. And I pray for forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness! I ask God to forgive me for my anger. I ask God to forgive me for being impatient. I ask God to forgive me for not being joyful or peaceful. And I thank Him for loving me. I thank Him for sending His only Son to die on the cross for my sins.
But what about you? Do you equate Christianity with happiness?