Several years ago, I was having an operation and would have died if not for the operation that saved my life. I was told afterwards that it would take me six to twelve months to recover, mentally, emotionally and physically. After the operation I talked to the doctor and instead of telling me to take antidepressants, which I thought he would do, he said: “Get out into nature. Feel the sun and the wind on your face. God didn't make man to sit inside concrete buildings all day.”
Mental health problems can affect any family. If nothing is done about these feelings of depression, it can destroy lives. I asked some people who were often struggling with depressive thoughts what they found helpful when they felt these feelings coming. They said they had a plan of action ready:
1. I know God doesn’t want me to be depressed.
2. I keep saying to myself, “This is how I feel, not what I believe.”
3. I ask God for a verse to help me get out of this depression.
4. I hang on to that verse.
5. I know there will come an end to these dark thoughts of depression.
Even believers can have feelings of depression, just as believers can also have headaches. Some people need medication to correct chemical imbalances in the brain. This is nobody’s fault. And even during these times of ill health we can learn about God and about ourselves.
But there are also times when we could become depressed, not as a result of illness but by giving in to dark thoughts; and we do have control over this. If we allow ourselves to become depressed and feeling low in this way, it affects the way we think; we cannot think straight and it steals all our joy. And unless we find a way out (maybe a verse from God’s Word that can help us out of it), it can take away our faith. The Psalms often describe exactly how we feel:
"I am terrified, and the terrors of death crush me. I am gripped by fear and trembling; I am overcome with horror.” Psalm 55:4-5 (GNT).
When we are tempted to feel depressed and low, we don’t have to try and feel happy. We must make a firm decision, without maybe feeling anything, to believe God is still there even if we can’t see Him. He is the Rock we will plant our feet on, and we must hold on to a word of God until the depression lifts.
I took my doctor’s advice and went out every day into nature and felt the sun and wind on my face, but I also looked up to God, and no matter how I felt I thanked God. I thanked Him for being alive, for the gospel, for my family, my friends, for enough food to eat, for a roof over my head … And I started to think about what was good for other people, not only about my own situation.
And a Bible verse that especially helped me, was this:
“Lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! Keep walking on straight paths, so that the lame foot may not be disabled, but instead be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13 (GNT).
We are not guilty for being lame (feeling depressed) like the verse above says, but we can make sure that we don’t become worse by giving in to those feelings. And the healing comes from total trust in God who created us, loves us, and called us to follow Jesus, and who will help us and support us whatever happens to us in life. If we are disciples and we follow Jesus with our whole heart, we have that as a true and unbreakable promise.
5 verses from the Psalms to hold on to when feeling low and depressed
“I call to you from the ends of the earth when I am afraid. Carry me away to a high mountain.” Psalm 61:2 (NCV).
“He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure.” Psalm 40:2 (GW).
“He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated.” Psalm 62:6 (GNT).
“Be a rock on which I may live, a place where I may always go. You gave the order to save me! Indeed, you are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3 (GW).
“Be strong and brave, all of you who are waiting for the Lord’s help.” Psalm.31:24 (ERV).