In today’s Faith Fact, we will tackle the question, “Why has God allowed depression to be a part of my life?”
Some Christians maintain that continued depression is caused by a lack of faith. But is this true? Let’s examine the facts. I always ask people who hold this position, “What verses in the Bible tell you this?” If they can even think of a passage (and most can’t!), it’s usually about having peace or learning to rejoice in all things.
But I’ve learned you can have peace in the middle of a depressive episode. And I’ve discovered how to rejoice in the Lord – even while battling depression! In short, I do not believe there is a biblical reason for saying depression is caused by a lack of faith.
As I’ve said before, the onset of depression is a “neutral event.’’ Just because you have depression doesn’t mean you’re sinning. It’s how you respond to this disease that determines if you are going to sin, or if your depression will become an opportunity for you to grow in your faith and live a testimony for Christ before others (see my previous Faith Facts that discuss this in greater detail).
So we come back to the original question, “Why has God allowed depression to be a part of my life?”
To answer that, we must turn to the apostle Paul’s having to deal with his “thorn in the flesh.” 2 Corinthians 12:7–9 tells the story: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (NIV84).
Notice that Paul, a man of great faith, prayed for God to take the problem away. We know that God did many amazing things throughout Paul’s life. But in this case, Paul discovered that the Lord would not answer his prayer in the way the apostle wished! We learn, instead, that it was God’s will for Paul to continue battling this pernicious thorn in the flesh.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, God explains why He allowed the “messenger of Satan to continue tormenting Paul: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (NIV84).
Did God allow the thorn in the flesh because He was punishing Paul? Not at all! In reality, God was doing this because He loved the apostle and wanted the best for him. In battling the thorn in the flesh, even as he ministered to seekers and new believers, Paul remained humble and did everything possible to glorify God.
So, I ask a third time: “Why has God allowed depression to continue to be a part of my life – or your life?” Perhaps God is allowing this because He has great plans for you. He wants you to learn how to deal positively with your “messenger from Satan” on a daily basis. And as you begin to learn how to live a life of victory and peace, even in the middle of depression, others will take note and want your help for their own lives.
In other words, just like Bruce and me, your depression, given to God completely, will become a powerful witness that can change the lives of many, many people.
Are you ready to make a huge decision? Can you tell God you’re willing to live with your depression if it’s His plan for you? Will you accept your depression and ask God to use it in your life to glorify Him? Making a commitment like this is LIFE TRANSFORMING! It will not only change your life, it will also positively impact hundreds of people with whom you come in contact during the course of your daily activities.
Like the apostle Paul, quit playing the victim and move forward in life, letting God use everything you have – even your depression.