By Aaron Coalson
Last December, I went through a deep depression, one of the worst seasons I’ve experienced. Depression can often settle in my soul for a few days, and then leave as quickly as it came. This was different. This lasted for weeks and with a weightiness I wasn’t prepared for and it touched every area of my life.
The more I’ve explored the condition of depression and the Christian life, I’ve seen it’s a common thread among many believers. Everyone from King David to the great Charles Spurgeon experienced what he called great ‘soul sickness’.
In my depression, the Father gave me four verses that clung to for hope and life during this time:
When nothing satisfies your weary soul, remember only He can.
David reflects on what I think encapsulates the entire Christian life in one verse. Ps. 107:9 says: “For he satisfies the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” What do we do when our souls will not be satisfied, when there’s a deep, hunger-producing depression that sits heavy on our souls? We remind ourselves that God has designed us to only be fully satisfied in Him. This, I think is a powerful sign and marker of depression in our lives. It’s a potent emotional state that reminds us in heavy ways that only the Eternal One can give our souls what they need.
In my depression, I knew my soul was hungry. Compulsively hungry for relief and satisfaction, affirmation, approval, pleasure, completion. I begged God to show up, to answer me when I called and to fill my hungry soul. Then he gave me this verse, his promise to satisfy my soul and fill it with good things. What this verse does not promise is relief from the thirst and hunger. This is natural part of living in this broken, beautiful world and that brokenness falls on each of us in different ways. What He promises is better, it’s a promise to satisfy my soul in the thirst and in the hunger he will fill my soul with the good things that only come from Him. This is far better than relief from the darkness of depression alone.
He is always faithful to his promises. Always.
The writer of Hebrews says this: “…for he who promised is faithful.” (10:23). There it is, tucked away right before the infamous hall of faith is this powerful declaration from God regarding his character. Any promise we see in Scripture is intrinsically linked to the character of God and his faithfulness not only his people, but his own glory. When depression hits, we can be reminded that God does not promise like we promise. His promises aren’t hanging by the thread of human memory, ability or faithfulness, but on the essence and character of God. A promise from God is synonymous with a guarantee, because it flows out of the mouth of One who is always faithful. Two words that can not be said about any of us men or women, whose frame is but dust. Yet often we read promises and hope God remembers, or is able or will actually follow through on his word. He will, because he is always faithful.
So when God whispers to us that he will satisfy our thirsty souls, you can rest assured, even in your depression, that your soul will be satisfied if you run to the One who is always faithful to his promises.
Be still and wait.
“Yes, I know. He satisfies and he is faithful. That’s incredible news, but what do I do in my depression.” David, our resident model on the chaos of human emotion reminds us, when all feels lost and our emotional state feels permanently flatlined, he calls us to this: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Ps. 37:7a) It’s been said that all the Christian life is waiting. Marriage, children, college, career, friendships, retirement, healing, freedom and ultimately glory. We’re almost always in a state of waiting for one thing or another, it’s a universal Christian concept, so it’s no surprise that your depression will require waiting as well.
What rest this brings to our souls. Why do we be still and wait? Because he who has promised is faithful. He’s faithful to deliver and rescue, he’s faithful to act and give us the desires of our heart, he’s faithful to redeem, sustain and satisfy. He’s also faithful to his name, his glory and his handiwork – you. This removes all need to worry in anxiety, because I can trust and rest in his goodness and his faithfulness to his promises. So we can be still and wait, because our deliverance from depression doesn’t lie in our hands, but in his.
Your depression is for your faith.
Hebrews offers another gem for depression, in fact it’s a key for the entire Christian life. The writer says “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) I’ll jump straight to the point – your depression exists for the stretching and strengthening of your faith, as does all that ails us. In your depression when you choose to be still and wait, for God to satisfy your thirsty soul and you wait in confidence because you know He is faithful to his promises this is called faith. The writer of Hebrews is explicit faith is the assurance of the things we hope for, the conviction that we will receive things we can not see. Did you catch that? Being still and waiting in hope is not a meaningless command, and it’s not passive. It’s an active waiting, placing your hope intentionally in his faithfulness for the fruition of something you can yet to see.
Ultimately, this is the essence of our salvation. We do not see glory yet, nor do we see our Savior face to face, but we believe, when our lives comes to an end, we will. We believe he is faithful to our salvation. But do we believe he is faithful in lesser things like depression, sexuality, or leadership? When you are still and waiting, you are placing your confidence in God’s character and faithfulness to follow through on what he’s promised, not just for your eternal security, but to do what your salvation is designed to do: restore the awe of God and in the process, satisfy your thirsty soul.
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I’m a husband, father, pastor, writer and general cultural connoisseur. Here I write at the intersection of theology, culture, leadership and community. Written by a millennial, for millennials in the church and in the culture seeking out what it means to live out our faith in this beautiful, chaotic world. This grand stage, as John Calvin calls it, where humanity lives out their lives.