Two people looking at the same summer day may either delight in the sunshine or complain that we need rain. Your view of “sun” (or the world in general) comes from the way your thinking has been conditioned. Likewise someone who sees man as primarily organic may see symptoms in an individual and interpret them very differently than a person with a biblical worldview. Proposed root causes and solutions will therefore greatly differ. The introductory article on this topic detailed the nine outward symptoms that can lead to a clinical depression diagnosis. Does the Bible say anything about these symptoms? The following entries will briefly consider all nine, seeking to use biblical language.
The first symptom of depression listed in the DSM IV is prolonged Sadness. Many people without explanation feel great sorrow for extended periods of time. Biblically you should know that it is not sinful to feel sad any more than it is sinful to feel giddy (although I confess I’ve never had someone seek counseling because they felt giddy).
Sorrow and joy should be put into their proper places. For instance, Jesus pronounced a blessedness on mourners. Mourners are in a unique position to find God’s comfort. Solomon said it is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting. This is a world under the curse of sin, which leaves us plenty to grieve over. When you feel the weight of your own sin, sorrow is particularly healthy. Even though we are commanded in Philippians 4:4 to rejoice in Lord, we are not commanded to feel happy (the context contrasts rejoicing in the flesh with rejoicing in the Lord). It is consistent with the commands of the Bible to feel grief over things explained or unexplained and still maintain the joy of the Lord.
Your conscience and your emotions are good because, like your nervous system, they alert you when something is not right. Is it possible you are troubled because you are hiding from something you know you need to do? Someone who cries all the time does not have damaged emotions, but emotions that are doing what they were designed to do. It is a compassionate friend who asks you to carefully examine your life to make sure the sorrow is not simply the result of avoiding an unpleasant responsibility.
As in the opening illustration of two people interpreting the same day differently, new ways of thinking may change the way you feel. One question to ask yourself is this: “Can I still live a productive life for Jesus and others if this bad feeling never goes away?” When you realize and embrace your chief end as bringing God glory and enjoying Him, hard times take on a new face. Knowing that the hardness you are enduring is not random but purposeful will not make the feeling go away but it will point you to sufficient grace.
Ten articles in this series: