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Depression: Getting back to the Source of Mental Illness

depression

Depression and all the misunderstandings that come with it is pervasive in society. Depression is also widespread among Christians today. The stigma attached to depression and mental illness is unwarranted, unreasonable and unfair.

I believe society has an unfair viewpoint of depression. I also believe the church is just as skewed in its view of depression. I read an article today titled 5 Things Christians Should Know about Depression and Anxiety. I thought the article was very informative. However like other articles I’ve read on the subject, I found it side-stepped the spiritual aspect of the issue of depression.

God is the Source of all Healing

Our bodies were made to heal themselves. It’s amazing to me that there are Christians who believe that God is no longer in the healing business when He gave us bodies that have healing capabilities built right into them. But that’s another subject all together.

We must never lose sight of the fact that God through Jesus Christ is the source of all healing for physical issues as well as mental issues. 

If I suffered a broken leg and for whatever reason I refused medical attention, my body would begin the healing process on its own. Of course if the bones aren’t set properly, the healing will take place abnormally which may cause other problems, but none the less, the body would begin to heal and repair itself on it’s own. The same thing happens when we scrape or cut our skin.

Even though the healing process begins on its own in our bodies, God is behind the process. Even if doctors intervene in the healing process, the knowledge, wisdom, and skills of the doctor are all God given. So the bottom line is that in whatever aspect healing is attained, God is the originator or source behind the healing and restoration process.

God Heals and Restores those who suffer from Depression

The same is true for depression and other mental illnesses. God is the root source of healing of all mental illness including depression. Articles like the one mentioned above seem to downplay the involvement of God in mental illness. Some almost make it taboo for us to attach a spiritual side to the healing aspect of mental illness.

I think it’s great that medical science has come up with ways to chemically treat depression and other mental illnesses. I think it’s wonderful that we have facilities and doctors to care for those suffering from depression.

But I also think that we miss it when we try to downplay both the root source of depression (our enemy, Satan) and the root provider of all healing (God).

I understand that it may not be popular to over spiritualize issues related to depression and mental illness. However, once we lose sight of the root cause of the problem, we spend the majority of our time fighting the symptoms of the problem instead of the cause of the problem.

Making Room for the Spiritual and the Physical

As stated above, God has given us marvelous resources when it comes to mental and physical illness. However, if we’re not careful in our non-reliance on God as the source of healing in both physical and mental illness, we may find that we have etched God out of the healing equation, only giving Him a cursory mention now and then simply to give the appearance that we are spiritual.

We must never lose sight of the fact that God through Jesus Christ is the source of all healing for physical issues as well as mental issues. Returning to the first cause and secondly, utilizing all the natural and physical resources He has given us provides us with a 2 phase attack against our enemy that will go far toward battling and overcoming the issues that we face regarding depression.

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17 Comments

  1. "But I also think that we miss it when we try to downplay both the root source of depression (our enemy, Satan) and the root provider of all healing (God)."…

    Do you believe that it is Satan who causes a broken leg? Or the flu? Both of which are temporary ailments (something most mental illnesses are not). What about cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc – which can be temporary, but not always?

    I am not saying God is not behind healing of all ailments. He is. But do not downplay depression and mental illness as a simple spiritual issue that is caused by Satan.

    • Thanks for your comment Brandi. The root cause of a broken leg can be many things, including our stupidity. I do believe that Satan is the root cause of the flu and any other sickness or disease. No sickness or disease originates with God. In dealing with the root, there are only two ways we can go…either God or Satan.

      • I guess this is where we disagree, but it clarifies where you're coming from. I don't believe sickness and disease comes from Satan. Sometimes things just happen. God created all things – which means He created these illnesses. But why it happens to some people and not others? This isn't of God or Satan. It just is. God just lets things happen here on earth. A car accident isn't an act of God or Satan. It just happens because this is the world we live in. This is how it is with depression, and other illnesses/diseases as well.

    • Greg, I found myself really troubled reading this post, and couldn't put words to it. Brandi pinpointed it– the implication that Satan is the root cause of depression is problematic, damaging to the individual, further reinforces the stigma, and I could go further with that but I won't.. Do you know that Satan is a parasite of the flesh? I don't know of any evidence in scripture for the view that Satan is a direct cause of depression. Being a victim of depression myself, I know that Satan can take advantage of lies I can tell myself because of the depression, just as he does with any type of lies. I know I need to address thatt as a depressed person, but I also know that my depression is rooted in biology. Experts who study it's genetic roots, its ravages on the individual, and what exacerbates it and what helps to keep it in check are good sources of knowledge, and God is the source of everything including science and biology, as you know. He's the Creator. He created me. Now that raises some interesting questions. God is Love. AND He allows me to be born with messed up biology, and to struggle with my physical limitations.I'm at peace with that. Becoming close to Him happens in struggle. Not saying God wanted me to suffer.. Not saying he wants me to be sad as often as I am, or that He doesn't want me to deal with my depression– He certainly does. The work within the soul (just as it is for everyone), work for the psyche, and work for the biology. My view about Satan and depression is this: It is true that Satan ushered in the fall of man. Because of the fall the world is tweaked and distorted, including biology. Depression does not happen because Satan has more a hold on one person than another, and the spiriitualized view would imply.. Some of the best writers about the spiritual life have been people suffering from depression. Some of the people who have leaned the most into holiness suffered from depression, and continued to suffer from it.

      • Hello Shan,
        I’m sorry that this post was disturbing to you. In this topic, I’m dealing with the root cause (the trunk of the tree) and effect (the leaves at the end of each branch of the tree) of depression.

        God says, “I am the Lord that Heals you”. He can’t be the Lord that heals us and the Lord that makes us sick at the same time. There are tons of scripture that have to do with healing. The will of God where healing for His children is concerned is pretty clear.

        If sickness and disease including biological imbalances doesn’t come from God, where else could they originate from?

        Yes, Shan I agree with you that biology plays a huge part in depression. You are correct in that this world that we live in is not as it was when it left the hands of the creator. But why isn’t it? What force is at work wreaking havoc in the earth and in the lives (and bodies) of individuals today? There is only one other alternative if we exclude God.

        You said, "My view about Satan and depression is this: It is true that Satan ushered in the fall of man. Because of the fall the world is tweaked and distorted, including biology".

        I absolutely agree. Now follow the progression: Satan = fall of man = tweaked and distorted world = tweaked and distorted biology. But when you trace the tweaked and distorted biology back to its root, we can only come to one conclusion. And that conclusion cannot be God.

        I thank you for your comment and I welcome any other input.

        • God is the Lord who heals us. However, I do not think that this necessarily means He heals us in this world. While on earth, we suffer worldly issues – some brought on by Satan, some simply brought on because God doesn't promise us an easy life. In fact, I believe He flat out tells us we'll have hardship in this life. But where He does heal us is when we die and get to heaven… there will be no more cancer, heart disease, broken limbs, depression, sadness, loneliness, etc. We need to turn to Him so we can have the ultimate healing.

          I agree with Shan in that implying Satan is the root of depression is damaging. I was told for years that Satan is the cause of my depression and that I obviously don't have enough faith in God or my depression would be better. This only made it worse. This made me feel I wasn't worthy of God's love and healing. And it actually made me lose faith.

          • Thanks for your input Brandi. I cannot agree with anyone who would tell you that you don't have enough faith because you were experiencing bouts with depression.

            However I will agree with you that in heaven there will be no more cancer, heart disease, broken limbs, depression, sadness, loneliness, etc. Which hammers home the point even further that the earth is the only place where healing applies and is needed. You cannot heal that which doesnt exist. And in heaven, the physical pains and annoyances that we have to deal with here on earth won't exist.

            Healing is a part of our salvation package (you might find a word study on the word “Salvation” interesting). Jesus came to provide salvation to a dying world. Salvation, just as physical healing, is applicable while here on earth. Just as there will be no need for salvation in heaven, there will be no need for healing in heaven. Thanks again for you comment.

  2. Hello!
    First of let me start by saying thanks for sharing this message. I only want to address a comment you made in reply to one of your readers "No sickness or disease originates with God." I disagree with this statement. All things originate with God including sickness and disease. There is nothing that is out of His control.
    Isaiah 45:7 says "I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things." ( but please read whole chapter)
    We can also take a look at the life of Job. God allowed Satan to test Job and I'm sure we have all read about the tragedy that happened to him (go read book of Job). Also the apostle Paul, In 2 Corinthians 12, we read in this passage Paul states he has asked the Lord to remove a “thorn in the flesh” three times and the Lord responds, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

    The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose, even depression.

    Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ." Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

    • Hello Charisse,
      Thank you for your comment. I agree with everything you have to say. Please let me clarify my comment. When I said that no sickness or disease originates with God, what I meant was that God isn’t the one placing sickness and disease (or depression) on His children, no more than we as parents would do harm to our children. Yes, God does allow things (both good and bad) to happen to us, but He isn’t the one trying to do us harm or even worse, trying to kill us. Once again I thank you for taking the time to offer your input.

  3. I am a 57 year old lady who came down with a rare disease in the last few years. I have IVs 24/7 to keep me alive. If I go more than 6 minutes without the IVs I could die. I also have oxygen because I have difficulty breathing. I was a very active, creative individual who liked to decorate, sew and make things, play and sing music, loved canning. I now have been pretty much handicapped to a chair due to the breathlessness. People who have never had a catastrophic illness that is incurable by medicine do not know or understand the depression that ensues. To say it is just Satan is very judgemental. Medicines do help depression, I have seen it time and again when I was a nurse before I got sick. I believe God uses doctors to help us get through things. I believe in good Christian counseling it helps through times of depression.

    • Hello Cheryl,
      Let me say that I’m heart broken by what has happened to you. I feel your pain through your words, and I concur that someone who has never gone through catastrophic illness that is incurable by medicine can in no way identify with those who have gone through and are going through the suffering that such illnesses can cause. What my post deals with is the cause….the root of the issue. Everything has a source. Everything has a root. There may be many courses of treatment and there may be many different types of medications. However when dealing with illness, whether physical or mental, addressing and/or at least acknowledging the source is vital to recovery. If the source is never addressed, we find ourselves spending a lifetime fighting symptoms. Combating symptoms can make one comfortable, but fighting symptoms will never provide a cure. I would never make light of your situation nor anyone else’s. My goal in this post as stated above was simply to highlight the fact that our God is the source of all healing and our enemy is the source of all illness. I thank you for your comment, and I apologize if you were offended in any way.

  4. Hi Cheryl, just like Greg I too feel deeply about your phyical, emotional and I can't even imagine the financial stress this illness has caused. I work in the medical insurance field and every day I speak with people who have had their finances devastated by an illness. I get calls after the Sheriff has shown up at their door, or the doctor will no longer see them until they pay their copays or they can't afford their medicine, etc. The other option is to be dependant on the government. I won't even go there. It breaks my heart.

  5. Like Greg, I know the source of all sickness and disease really is satan and people saved and unsaved are being robbed of their quality of life to an an incurable illness. Even if the illness is manageable with medication the cost of some drugs will cause one to faint! I'm not opposed to doctors or the medical community, they do a great service if you have an emergency and need your life to be saved. But a dibilitating disease is not the abundant life Jesus spoke of. Jesus healed all who were oppressed of the devil. All who were sick. I'm not writing to change your mind or others. We call come from different backgrounds and were taught whatever we believe. But, you will never be able to have what you never believe for. That doesn't mean you don't have faith in Jesus. It simple means despite how you feel, despite what your body says…there's the promise of the New Covenant and in it God provided healing and prosperity for all His children, that includes you! I will keep you in my prayers. Yvonne

    • Thank you for your comment Yvonne. God made us all different. For example, there are beach people, desert people, mountain people, and people who love living on the plains. Because I’m a beach person that in no way gives me the right to proclaim that the beach is the best environment to live in. However, if you don’t know that beach living exists; you would never know that the option of living at the beach was indeed available to you.

      Likewise, God has provided complete healing through Jesus Christ for all. Some will reach the goal of healing and restoration through medical doctors and/or surgery. Some will reach the destination of healing through medications, some will be healed through natural cures and remedies, some will receive their healing directly through faith in God and His Word, and some will reach the destination of healing through a combination of all of the above. And some won’t be healed at all. And even through debilitating illness, God can still use the person who doesn’t get healed as a mighty witness to those who cross their paths.

      I believe that it’s God’s will that all should walk in divine health, but I know that all won’t for many different reasons. But as in the analogy above regarding beach living, it’s vitally important that all who are sick know that God has provided healing through many different methods but ultimately through Jesus Christ for all.

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