Why do mature Christians experience depression? Shouldn't we be able to pray it away?
If you experience depression, even as a Christian, you are not alone. Charles Spurgeon, a well-known preacher from the 19th century, struggled with depression for many years: “My spirits were so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet not know what I wept for.” Spurgeon believed that his depression equipped him to minister more effectively. “I would go into the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary,” he wrote in 1858.
Spurgeon’s challenges help illustrate the depths and sometimes debilitating effects of this mental illness. Currently, depression is the number one mental health concern, followed closely by anxiety and stress. Depression is not new, and, even within the biblical context, we see references to it. We read about individuals who experienced these emotions, including Elijah (1 Kings 19:3–4), Job (Job 3:20–26), Paul (2 Cor. 11:24–28), and even our Lord Jesus who while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane was “overwhelmed with sorrow” (Matt. 26:37–38). The Psalmists express these feelings as being “downcast” (Ps. 42:11), “crushed” and “brokenhearted” (34:18), “disturbed” (42:5).