Lately, I’ve been studying the issue of depression …for two reasons… 1) My biblical counseling class required that I pick a topic for a case study and 2) I personally have down days (I struggle with what the Puritans called melancholy, not so much with depression). My thoughts below are by no means comprehensive.
Hope in This Life
There is hope in this life for problems! People everywhere are seeking help from professional psychiatrist and psychologist, self-help books, or even television personalities like Oprah and Dr. Phil, but “those in the world, try as they might, have no workable answers to many issues of life. Anytime they try to solve a problem that deals with man’s soul—his emotions, will, and understanding—they will get it wrong. They simply have no light; they cannot find their way out of the cave.” Not everything changes at salvation. God’s work of conformity to his Son is a progressive work. Many may be discouraged by the path of change that lies ahead, but comfort is found in the fact that God has provided all the resources for Will and Emma to live for Him in this life. Peter tells us that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” In order to have victory over his depression, one must first understand that God has provided everything he needs in His Word. “A necessary presupposition is that God has indeed provided every essential truth the believer needs for a happy, fulfilling life in Christ Jesus. It is the belief that God has not left us lacking in any issue…every essential truth, every essential principle, and every essential technique for solving human problems has been delivered in God’s Word.”
Initial Diagnosis of Depression
Unfortunately, depression will not just go away. “What we should be clear about, though, is that the condition of our bodies makes a difference in the capacity of our minds to think clearly and of our souls to see the beauty of hope-giving truth.” For a Christian struggling with the symptoms of depression, it is important to determine the cause and to help him. Causes will be physical, spiritual, or a combination of the two. If “the person is over age forty, there is no history of previous problems with depression, the person’s circumstances are largely unchanged, and/or they are taking prescription drugs” then a medical consultation should be suggested. If it is a spiritual problem, then, with dependence on the Holy Spirit one should head straight to the Scripture. If it is suspected to be a physical problem, “the condition in question must show evidence of damage to the body’s physical tissue. This evidence can be found by a number of objective tests… It is very important to know that for a condition to be correctly labeled as a disease or an illness there must be evidence of damage in the body proven by objective tests or by an objective observer.” Other physical causes of depression may be, “a reaction to medications and illicit drugs, a medical condition, poor eating habits, or fatigue.”
Help in the Scripture and the Spirit
Piper says, “Gentle, loving, teaching of the truth—especially the truth of the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our deliverance from sin and wrath and death and Satan—is the process in which God himself grants repentance and a knowledge of the truth, which results in an escape from the captivity of the devil. The devil cannot abide truth and light. He is by nature a liar and deceiver. He thrives in darkness. Therefore, if by God’s grace we can bring the full force of truth to shine in the believer’s darkness, the devil will not survive the light. Good, solid Bible teaching is a crucial part of deliverance from the darkening power of the devil.
After hope has been renewed and the Gospel has been firmly established, those who are struggling with depression must begin walking daily in Scripture through the power of the Spirit in order to overcome this captivity. The difficulty in defeating depression is depression itself. An individual, in his disheartened state, will not feel like doing anything, but he must realize that right emotions follows right actions. “If your feelings are telling you that staying in bed is the best thing today, preach to your feelings and tell them how foolish they are. Don’t lose sight of the gospel in this preaching! Don’t forget that defeating these wrong feelings and getting out of bed is enabled by the Spirit and is becoming what you are in Christ. But then exert your will and get up!”
 Jim Berg, Created For His Glory: God’s Purpose For Redeeming Your Life (Greenville, S.C.: BJU Press, 2003), 167.
 2 Peter 1:3, ESV.
 Ed Bulkley, Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology (Eugene, Or.: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), 268.
 John Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait For God and Joy (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2006), 25.
 I leave no room for a “mental illness”. To be quite frank, I don’t believe there is such a thing. How can your mind have a physical sickness? For more info on this, read Welch’s Blame It On the Brain.
 Welch, Blame It On the Brain?, 127.
 Robert Smith, The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference (Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2004), 49.
 Jim Berg, “Depression Issues” (lecture, Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC, January 2, 1992).
 Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift, 59.
 Ibid., 47.