Depression in the Bible

Depression in the Bible

Christianity, and religion more generally, can be a tremendous resource to getting through depression.

Faith helps billions of people around the world keep sight of what is important and provides guidance and structure to navigate terrible life circumstances. 

Though Christ may not address depression as a therapist would, Christian therapy can be of great benefit if you are struggling to overcome depression. 

In fact, throughout the entire Bible, there are numerous examples of individuals struggling with the overbearing weight of life and losing hope, and all of them are eventually able to overcome it.

Whether you're a fundamentalist, or more liberal in your approach to the Bible, there is profound wisdom in the Bible for handling depression.

Let's take a look.

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The Book of Job

Job may be the most tragic individual or literary character of all time, and is deeply representative of the depressed state of being. 

According to the Bible, Satan (meaning adversary) and God make a wager that the only reason Job is so pious is because his life is bountiful.

God accepts this wager and allows Satan to systematically deprive Job of everything he loves- his livestock, servants, his children, and eventually his physical health. 

This example is not to spark debate about God allowing Satan to torture Job, it's about Job's experience.

Like us, depression or catastrophe comes swiftly and seemingly without meaning.

It leads us to question, anger, plea, and argue (often with ourselves and often with God). 

Job loses everything, his friends turn on him and blame him for his circumstance, and his wife tells him to curse God... he is alone. 

The one thing he does not do is turn his back on God. 

He questions him and is upset, but he never turns his back. 

Ultimately he is forced to accept that he has no power over his life, only that he continually chooses to believe in God, and believe that there is meaning in his suffering.

In the end, all of Job's children, livestock, and servants are returned sevenfold; metaphorically this means that his ability to maintain his faith in God and his trust in the almighty allowed him to not only make it through his depression but made his entire future exponentially more profound.

He suffered greatly, kept his faith, tried to maintain a connection to God, and by so doing was able to reclaim his life with even greater abundance and humility.

Job did not passively suffer and wait, he prayed, he reached out to God, and even when he didn't receive an answer he could understand he didn't give up. 

Jonah and the Whale

While much of depression seems to come without warning or reason (such as in the case of Job), much of depression is a result of not taking responsibility for our lives.

In the story of Jonah and the Whale, Jonah is called by God to preach to people who are wayward and reckless. 

Jonah doesn't heed this call and tries to escape his responsibility and ends up angry and swallowed whole.

Anyone who has struggled with depression knows exactly what it feels like to be swallowed whole and taken to the bottom of the sea. 

Once Jonah acknowledges what he must do, and take responsibility for his calling, he is able to leave the belly of the monster and take his place on solid ground once again.

Of course, most of us, don't get clear instructions from God about what we are called to do, but we usually have a pretty clear idea of what we shouldn't be doing and that is an important start.

When we avoid responsibility and turn away from what we know is right, we necessarily take ourselves down a dark path, get swallowed up by something terrible, and lose the ground beneath us. 

But, if we take small steps and do what we know to be good, or at least stop doing what we know to be bad, then we too can begin to find the ground beneath our feet, and the light overhead. 

Jesus Christ

Jesus was perfect, the son the God, but he was also a man, a human being. 

As such he too felt anguish, fear, and sorrow.

In Mark 14 he says "my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." 

Now, certainly, it is easier to face difficulty when you know you are the divine son of God, and yet still he felt sorrow "to the point of death."

But the more important message of Christ's life is the unwritten message.

Jesus knew he would suffer, be lied to, beaten, spat on, betrayed, and ultimately killed.

In truth, we all know this, we all know that life is unavoidably painful at times- we all encounter betrayal, mockery, and pain.

But what does Jesus do, knowing this?

He accepts the burden of life, and pursues his ultimate purpose of healing others, and preaching the gospel. 

He literally and metaphorically shoulders his cross and accepts the painful aspects of life alongside compassion, kindness, love, and forgiveness. 

He demonstrates a better way through depression than giving up or cursing the world; he offers help to everyone who needs it.

He works to show love and compassion to the entire world, including you now. 


Jesus knew depression, as did Jonah, as did Job, and many others.

The one thing that helped them overcome their depression was faith in God. 

No matter how terrible things became, no matter how close to the breaking point they were (and they were close), they didn't give up.

They didn't turn their back on God, they didn't curse Him, and they tried to connect to Him.

They prayed, they stopped running, they held to their faith, they broke through and were then able to help others because they understood. 

If you are experiencing depression and don't know what else to do, talk to a mental health care provider or seek out Christian Therapy.

And remember, "with God, all things are possible."

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March 25th, 2023

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