Are you feeling depressed? Everyone feels depressed from time to time. Whether you’re dealing with situational depression (perhaps you got passed over for a promotion you worked hard for or caring for an ailing parent) or seasonal affective disorder, or chronic depression, depression hits everyone.
God knows what you’re going through, God is ready to listen and to comfort you, and God provides resources to help you when you need it. Below are six Bible verses you can meditate on when you feel depressed.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8
At the ripe old age of 120, Moses spoke these words as he commissioned Joshua to lead God’s people into the Promised Land. Moses had more years of following God’s lead than we will get in a lifetime, so he knew what he was talking about. God had led him out of the desert and into Pharaoh’s palace for a whole series of confrontations before Pharaoh finally relented and let God’s people go.
God led Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt, away from the pursuit of their captors and through the Red Sea. God led the people using a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. God provided miraculous food when the people got hangry.
Moses spoke from his experience of God’s presence with him even when he disobeyed, and God’s refusal to forsake the Israelites when they disobeyed. Moses assured Joshua, despite whatever challenges he would face as he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, that he need not fear or succumb to discouragement.
God would always be with them. He would lead them and walk beside them. He would feed and protect them. God would strengthen them and help them deal with the enemies up ahead.
When you are feeling depressed, remember that God is always with you. These Bible stories have been passed down through generations to offer comfort when we face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Do you have an older, faithful friend who can share their own experiences of God with them through difficulty? Reaching out to someone else can also become a helpful source of support and encouragement.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
These verses contain several key points. First, because God is trustworthy you can lean on him with your whole heart when you are feeling depressed. Entrust God with everything you’ve got. Secondly, God sees the whole picture even when we can’t. Depression can make it hard to see your hand in front of your face; it can skew your perspective on what remains true versus the variations created by emotions or opinions.
Also, let God take the lead. As Matthew 11:28-30 reminds us, his yoke is gentle and light. He wants to give you rest, not burden you with more heaviness, so you can continue to trust him by following his commands. Jesus summed up all the laws when he reminded us to love God and love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).
If your decisions and actions lead you to love God, others, and yourself more, you’re right on track for those straight paths God has promised. Our paths get twisted and our lives more difficult when we don’t love well.
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. – Proverbs 12:25
Depression and anxiety often go together. When you’re already feeling depressed, your strength to deal with anxiety-producing circumstances may be sapped; conversely, feelings of anxiety can become so overwhelming that you feel depressed. It’s a nasty cycle, and you know how heavy it can make your heart feel.
A little bit of encouragement can go a long way in cheering you up. Notice the Proverb says “a kind word.” Of course, you may need more than one tiny word, but you may not require a long and windy conversation. Try reaching out to someone you know who tends to offer kind words. If you thought of the people in your life as a series of support teams, who would be on the encouragement team?
It could also make you feel better to be the one offering encouragement. Think of people you appreciate (like those on your encouragement team). You might write thank you notes, bake, and drop off some cookies, or do an intentional act of kindness. Kindness can also be cyclical. When you’re kind, others appreciate you. They’re happy, which makes you feel happier.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… – Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
You know this to be true, that there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything in life happens in God’s timing. If you haven’t already, or if you need a solid reminder, Ecclesiastes 3 is an encouraging chapter.
When you are feeling depressed, it is good to keep in mind that others have also been through whatever you’re going through. And just as seasons change, your current circumstances will change as well. The rain falls and the sun comes out again. You may cry for a time, but you will laugh again. You may mourn the loss of a beloved, yet the intensity of that initial period of mourning won’t last forever.
Look back at your life and make a list or a timeline of significant events. Some will be hard; others will be celebratory. Note what God has already done for you, including the people and experiences he has given to you as a gift. Remember how he has shown up in difficult times, and recognize that some of those circumstances have ended, leaving you with lessons learned and greater wisdom.
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:28-29
Spend some time considering God’s character. For example, God is everlasting. There was never a time before God and there will never be a time after God. He always has been, is now, and will be for eternity. God created everything, including the universe, our solar system, our planet, the skies, and seas, even you and the birds singing outside, and your beloved Beagle resting at your feet.
We worship a strong, creative, powerful God! God isn’t limited by the resources that limit us: time, fatigue, money, physical needs like food or sleep. God always has more of anything than you can imagine.
God desires to fill you up with strength, especially when you feel weak and weary. Isaiah 40 goes on to acknowledge that everyone gets tired, but that he can give you the energy to soar like an eagle. Just imagine how wonderful it would be to soar like a majestic eagle!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
Depression can make it hard to experience feeling love. Holding on to this promise can offer an important reminder, something you can know with your mind even when your feelings tell you otherwise. Nothing you’ve ever experienced, nothing you’re going through, nothing you’re feeling, nothing you’ve done or left undone, nothing you can imagine will ever prevent God from loving you.
God is love, as John tells us (1 John 4:8). John also explained that God’s love for the world, for every single person God ever made, is what compelled God to send Jesus to live, die on the cross, and conquer death when he rose again (John 3:16-17). God loves you, and nothing will ever change that.
Because God will never leave you, you can take courage. Because God is trustworthy, you can make decisions to keep following God’s law of love. You can ask for and offer encouraging words and acts of kindness, knowing that this season of life will pass. You can ask God to strengthen you from his tremendous power, and you can trust that God loves you now and forever.
Christian Counseling for when you’re feeling depressed
If you’re looking for additional support beyond these verses about depression in the Bible, feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors in the online counselor directory. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss practical techniques for handling depression from a Christian perspective.
“Krisis”, Courtesy of Stefano Pollio, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Moses and the Ten Commandments”, Courtesy of Levi Meir Clancy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Holding On”, Courtesy of Jannis Lucas, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Autumn Leaves”, Courtesy of Chris Lawton, Unsplash.com, CC0 License