Archives For Depression

DavidMurray2One in ten people struggle with depression. Over the course of a lifetime, one in four will battle this condition. In the below sermon at Bethel Church, pastor, author, and professor Dr. David Murray preaches a sermon on Psalm 77 that surveys depression and offers a broad strategy for battling the blues. The audio for this sermon is available on Bethel’s web site.

If you battle depression, be assured that you are not alone. Many of history’s greatest leaders were attacked by their thoughts. Abraham Lincoln once said about his depression.

“I am now the most miserable man living,”  . . . “If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. . . Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell . . .  To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better.”

Great pastors have been swamped by depression too.  Charles Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers ever.  But, his church leaders once informed his congregation:

“You are anxious to hear about our poor pastor – – he is very bad.  Very bad I say, not from any injuries or bruises he has received, but from the extreme tension on his nerves and his great anxiety.  So bad is he that we were fearful for his mind this morning.  . . .”

Spurgeon said that he could not think himself out of his depression.  He said that his thoughts were like knives shredding his heart into pieces.

And, King David wrote about depression.  In Psalm 69 David said it was like being in deep filthy mud where there is no foothold

. . . . . Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters. . . My eyes fail, looking for my God (Psalm 69:1-3).”

Even if you do not battle depression personally, it is very, very likely that someone you love often finds him or herself in the quicksand of being down. This is an important sermon for all of us to hear.



For more resources, see David’s web site and his series of films, Christians get depressed too.

Early Book Gift Ideas

Chris —  November 23, 2015

Hopefully, you are buying a present for at least one reader this Christmas. Here are a few ideas to consider.


Here is a Tim Keller sermon that will feed the soul of people in our day. This sermon will help you understand some of the reasons you think like you do. And it will show how Christ can set you free. In terms of interacting with the cultural waters in which we swim, it is one of the most profound sermons I have ever heard.

Watch, listen, and be nourished.

Justin Taylor summarizes:

Tim Keller speaking at chapel for Wheaton College (November 11, 2015), explaining that our culture repudiates as oppressive the idea that someone else names us and gives us an identity, but that when you trust Christ you have the only identity on earth that is received instead of achieved.

Keller goes on defend a form of individualism as inescapable but to critique expression individualism (the idea that you must look inside and then express them outwardly no matter what anyone says). He offers five critiques: it is  (1) incoherent; (2) unstable; (3) illusory; (4) crushing; (5) excluding.

We are social beings who need recognition and naming from outside—someone whom you love, approve, and esteem—to speak to you.

See also:

Communicating Truth in Our Late Modern Moment


Can a Christian Commit Suicide?

Chris —  October 29, 2013

TGC Nunez

Pastor Miguel Nuenez interacts with an important pastoral question.

This controversial topic has unfortunately often been addressed in emotional ways, not through biblical analysis. Those of us who grew up Roman Catholic have always heard suicide is a mortal sin that irretrievably sends people to hell. Influenced by the arguments of Augustine and Aquinas, this belief dominated through the Reformation. However, for Luther, the Devil is capable of oppressing (not possessing) a believer to the point of pushing him to commit the sin of suicide (Table Talk, Vol 54:29). As the salvation became better understood, many Reformation thinkers and theologians distanced their views from the Church of Rome.

Besides this traditional position of the Catholic Church, we encounter three others:

a) A true Christian would never commit suicide, since God wouldn’t allow it.

b) A Christian may commit suicide, but would lose his salvation.

c) A Christian may commit suicide without losing his salvation.

So what does the Bible say?

Let’s begin by talking about those truths we know as revealed in God’s Word . . .

Read the rest here.

How are you doing emotionally? Are you struggling with depression, anger, anxiety, or fear?

A recent Army Times article shares the startling truth that more soldiers are dying from suicide than in combat. It gives me a new sense of urgency for my upcoming sermon series, Leading Our Emotions. According to the article :

• More soldiers are dying by suicide than in combat.

• The service is on track to reach its highest suicide rate yet — 29 suicides per 100,000 soldiers per year, more than three times the rate in 2004 and a more than a 25 percent increase from last year.

• More non-commissioned officers and soldiers with multiple deployments are committing suicide.

Read the whole article: Special Report: Losing the War on Suicide

Of course, the problems are not limited to the military. So many are struggling in so many ways with their mental health. It’s why I am beginning a series this Sunday, Leading Our Emotions.

Before you comment, let me assure you that each week I will stress that emotions and mental health are complex subjects. Physical health affects emotional health.  I am not going to give a reductionist presentation of emotions that acts as though there are quick fixes. But there is no question that our relationship with God is foundational to spiritual and emotional health. If someone’s hope is not in God, then they may very well struggle with being downcast (Psalm 43:5)! The goal of this series will be to equip our people to lead their emotions under the Lordship of Christ.

Depression is something that many Christians battle. Depression will be one of the subjects of a new series beginning September 30 at The Red Brick Church, Leading Your Emotions. Here is an excerpt of what I am wrote on our church web site about the series:

Image of Dr. Spock from Star Trek

Are you emotions leading you? Or are you leading your emotions?

Make no mistake. Emotions are a gift. None of us would want to go through life without happiness or even sadness. Who would want to experience the birth of a child with the emotions of Mr. Spock? There is a time when we should feel the emotion of concern for the people we love. Emotions are gifts from God that allow us to experience life.

Yet, if we allow emotions to control our lives, they can be cruel dictators. Legitimate sadness can give way to the quicksand of depression. Proper concern quickly becomes unmanageable anxiety. Righteous anger can turn into bitterness or tantrums.

Too many people find that their emotions are leading them rather than they are leading their emotions. It makes life miserable.

It is not time for the series yet. But until then here is some encouragement. A few weeks ago, David Murray shared 10 Principles for Christians to Remember About Depression. It is a post well worth reading:

1. All kinds of people get depression: Depression smashes caricatures about depression. It’s not a choice that weak losers make. No, it affects rich and poor, the very old and the very young and every age in between, Type A and B…and every other type too.

2. Build relationship in order to build trust: It’s the old “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” As with pulpit ministry, our words carry so much more weight and credibility when there is a relationship between the speaker and hearer.

3. Good listening is massive medicine: Sometimes we run out of things to say or don’t know what to say. However, don’t underestimate the healing power of real listening. I experienced this recently when I shared with my wife an anxiety I had been carrying. There wasn’t much she could say to resolve the problem, but I slept so much better after she simply listened to me.

4. Jumping to simplistic conclusions is . . .

Read the rest here.

Doubt in the Christian Life

Chris —  August 9, 2012

Doubt is something that nearly all Christians face. Even Christ’s followers  doubted after the resurrection and in the context of receiving the Great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Sometimes, doubt can totally overwhelm. One of the first things to realize about a deep night of the soul is that you are not the first to experience it. The below links offer encouragement in reference to a crisis of faith.

Jon Bloom:

“Spatial disorientation” is what a pilot experiences when he’s flying in weather conditions that prevent him from being able to see the horizon or the ground. Points of reference that guide his senses disappear. His perceptions become unreliable. He can no longer be sure which way is up or down. It can be deadly — it killed John Kennedy, Jr.1

The only way a pilot can overcome spatial disorientation is to trust his cockpit instruments more than his intuitive senses to tell him what is real. That’s why flight instructors force student pilots to learn to fly planes by the instruments alone.

There is a spiritual parallel. I’ve experienced it. On a spring day in May 1997, I flew into a spiritual storm.

The details are too lengthy, but essentially I had a crisis of faith. I entered a tempest of doubt like nothing I had experienced before. God, who I had known and loved since late childhood, suddenly became clouded from my spiritual sight. I couldn’t see him anywhere. It got very dark in my soul and swirling winds of fear blew with gale force. The turbulence of hopelessness was violent. Not knowing which way was up or down, I found myself in spiritual spatial disorientation.

I was panicky at first. I swerved back and forth desperately trying to get my bearings. . . .

Read the rest here.

Steve Brandon, pastor of Rock Valley Bible Church:

Most Christians, as I can tell, go through a crisis of faith in their lives. By this, I simply mean a time in which they really question the reality of God or of His working in their lives. Sometimes it occurs when people are in their teens. At other times it occurs later in life. The result of these times is either an abandoning of the faith or a strengthened resolve to the realities of the faith.

The Biblical writers are no strangers to such feelings. More than a dozen times, we read the Psalmists expressing their doubts to the Lord saying, “How long?”

Read the rest of Steve Brandon’s, The Crisis of Faith.

See also:

The Limping, Elevenish Recipients of the Great Commission

A sermon series on emotions?

Chris —  June 13, 2012

I am looking for input. I am tentatively planning a topical/expository sermon series on emotions this Fall. So many battle emotions such as depression, anger, anxiety, and fear. But I would like to hear from those in the pew.

Do you think a thoughtful series on emotional battles is needed?

Which emotions do you think people battle the most?

What sermon series would interest you?

Steve Brandon:

Most Christians, as I can tell, go through a crisis of faith in their lives. By this, I simply mean a time in which they really question the reality of God or of His working in their lives. Sometimes it occurs when people are in their teens. At other times it occurs later in life. The result of these times is either an abandoning of the faith or a strengthened resolve to the realities of the faith.

The Biblical writers are no strangers to such feelings. More than a dozen times, we read the Psalmists expressing their doubts to the Lord saying, “How long?” (For example: Psalm 13:1, 2; 79:5; 94:3). Asaph chronicles his life by saying, “My feet came close to stumbling. My steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2-3). Habakkuk said, “How long, O LORD, will I call for help and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2). Job said, “I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me. I stand up, and you turn Your attention against me” (Job 30:20).

And yet . . .

Read the rest here.

I recently pointed to a new edition of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s classic, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure

The essence of this matter is to understand that this self of ours, this other man within us, has got to be handled. Do not listen to him; turn on him; speak to him; condemn him; upbraid him; exhort him; encourage him; remind him of what you know, instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control. The devil takes hold of self and use it in order to depress us. We must stand up as this man did and say: ‘Why art thou cast down? Why art thou disquieted within me?’ Stop being so! ‘Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance,’ He, ‘who is the health of my countenance and my God.’ (page 21).

See also, Don’t Ask the Depressed, “How Are You Doing?”