Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5, NASB1995).
I want to be careful with the topic of depression. I also want to admit that I’m discussing depression as a pastor and not a clinician.
But from a Biblical perspective, I believe in hope for those dealing with depression.
I believe this because Paul writes that we can have a hope that does not disappoint. I believe understanding and living the hope found in the Bible can be helpful in dealing with depression.
Some of my thoughts . . .
- No one should feel bad if they experience depression!!!
- There doesn’t seem to be a common cause or cure for depression. Each individual suffering from depression has a unique story.
- I always hesitate to use the word “depression” when talking to someone who is going through discouragement or anxiety. I don’t want to pronounce a verdict into their soul by my words.
- I’ve heard that depression can be caused by chemical imbalances or that it can be genetic. Recently I’ve read that depression can be caused by difficulties with a part of the brain known as the hippocampus.
As I’ve talked with individuals who experience depression, they often describe it as a dark blanket that takes away motivation and joy. Some describe feelings of worthlessness and question whether life is valuable.
I have found . . .
Conversation and prayer help. There is healing in honest words and praying together.
I’ve learned recently . . .
That the part of the brain (hippocampus) that deals with emotions can be overwhelmed by another part of the brain (amygdala) or the section of the brain that deals initially with stress, anger, and fear.
If we are under duress, the brain locks into a pattern that can trigger depression, and when we are depressed, we often self-isolate. Two of the causes of depression can join together and cause deeper discouragement.
This brings me to Biblical hope. The Greek word for “hope” can be translated in a phrase meaning “fleeing toward refuge.”
Consider the image of fleeing toward God for help. Instead of cycling our brains on fear and anxiety and rather than withdrawing, we run toward our heavenly Father. That’s the context of the hope found in Romans 5 . . .
We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
How I have grown in Christ . . .
When I’m discouraged, I’ve become better at recognizing that I’m discouraged. This might sound irrational, but with me, there is a degree of self-denial. After all, as a pastor, I should be above such defeat.
But I can admit my frustrations and feelings, seek the Presence of God, and ask others to pray for me – the formula and definition of Biblical hope.