A Christian Approach to Depression

by Todd Shupe

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV)

God has blessed us with the Living Word known as the Holy Bible.   We can turn to the Bible for advice and instruction for our worries and problems.  Some may feel that the Bible is too old to be relevant today.  However, many, if not all, of our issues of today are essentially the same as when Jesus walked the earth.  We learn from Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

One of the most prevalent problems facing our society today is depression.  Antidepressant prescribing has risen nearly 400% since 1988, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   The story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18-19 is a fascinating example of how God dealt with His servant when he was depressed. 

Elijah means “The LORD is my God,” and as a prophet he adamantly shared God’s message and warnings.  The Jews were turning to false gods, and he shared his warning.  “Elijah came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you waver between the two sides? If Yahweh is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

In 1 Kings 19 we read of Elijah fleeing from the evil Jezebel.  She was the wife of Ahab, King of Israel.  Elijah was overcome with depression and requested that he might die, and said, “It is enough. Now, O Yahweh, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).

Elijah was so frightened by Jezebel’s threat to kill him that he flees to Mt. Horeb (Sinai).  He takes rest under a broom tree and the word of the Lord came to him and asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah” (1 Kings 19:9)?  God is omniscient and clearly knew what Elijah was doing, but He was modelling for us how to help a depressed person.

  1. God met him where he was.  He did not wait for Elijah to come to Him.
  2. He asked questions and listened.  The questions were crafted to lead to self-examination.  God did not offer quick answers.  God’s actions were in accordance with James 1:19.  “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

We should be mindful of people that are disappointed because if disappointment is left unresolved it will lead to discouragement which is a step away from depression.  The pharmaceutical industry has done tremendous things for people.  However, I encourage us all to be proactive and seek out our brothers and sisters that are disappointed and turn them toward the lift of Christ and away from the darkness that leads to depression. 

Prayer:  If someone reading this is in need of help, please provide it.  If someone reading this is not in need of help, open their eyes to the disappointment, discouragement, and depression that is present all around us and help them to meet those in need wherever they are in need.  Help us to show your love by being present and quick to listen.  Amen. 

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.