Gregory Jantz, Ph.D.
If you have faith in God, depression can be similar to a betrayal by him. After all, you have trusted him to care for you, yet you are still depressed. You may have heard from your childhood that, as a Christian, you were to experience and exhibit joy, peace, patience—all the fruit of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23. This sense of betrayal may haunt your sleepless nights and invade your despairing thoughts. Feeling forgotten by God, you may even be angry at him.
This anger at God can contribute to your depression by provoking feelings of guilt. You don’t think you should be angry at God, or you don’t think you have the right to be angry at God, so you feel guilty when you pray, the more you are convinced that he could fix it, but he won’t . You doubt his love. But you’ve also memorized John 3:16, which begins, “For God so loved the world…” so you’ve been told he does love you. Looking at all of this, you conclude he’s got a lousy way of showing his live, at least to you.
Or you may think, Perhaps I don’t deserve his love. Maybe he doesn’t change my situation because I don’t deserve joy and peace in my life. Possibly the things I’ve done are so bad that he wants to love me but can’t because of who I am. And if God can’t love me, then I’m not really worthy to be loved by anyone. And if my life is to be empty of love, hope is impossible. If you look at it this way, depression is completely understandable. Or is it?
Have you picked up the stream of thoughts in this line of reasoning? It takes snippets of truth—God love you, and Christians are to live lives of joy—and twists those around into something meant to injure you, not give you comfort. This line of reasoning is not from God; it is from the Deceiver. Rage is a deceiver. False guilt is a deceiver. Abject despair is a deceiver. Depression is a deceiver. That is why when you are in the midst of depression, you must replace your own negative self-talk with God-talk, which is based upon truth. This God-talk will support your positive self-talk by agreeing with affirming statements, such as these:
- I deserve love. (“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16)
- I deserve joy. (“Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” – Isaiah 51:11)
- I am strong enough to learn and grow each day. (“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” – 2 Samuel 22:33)
- I can experience contentment in my life. (“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” – Philippians 4:12)
- I am able to respond to my circumstances, instead of react. (“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” – Romans 12:2)
- I can look forward to tomorrow. (“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” – Lamentations 3:22-23)
How do you fill your life and your mind with God-talk? The Bible is full of life-affirming messages. It is, at its heart, a love story. It is a story of a loving God, who created you to love you and to be loved by you.
Like every great story, there is a separation, which must be overcome by terrible sacrifice. Through God’s sacrifice of his Son, Jesus, you are able to confidently say, “I can live happily ever after.”
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.