Too Depressed to Believe What We Know
Eleven Resources for the Darkness
Depression of some kind darkens the door of most Christians.
It’s a spiritual or emotional fog that stubbornly clouds our hope and happiness. It might last for a couple hours, or for years. It might be brought on by a specific traumatic experience or a broken relationship, or it might be less traceable, more difficult to explain. Some cases are clinical and require special attention, but lots of others are just part of everyday life in a broken and failing world.
While many are lost to their depression — helplessly wandering in their own darkness — Christians have somewhere to turn, truths to rehearse until our hearts catch up with the faith in our minds. Not only did Christ save and deliver the brokenhearted, but he experienced all the pains and temptations we face and more. At the cross, he dove headfirst into the darkness, so that we might have eternal, unfading, always-increasing hope and happiness.
We’ve collected some of our best resources on the topic of depression, as well as a few others from around the web. We pray they will be God’s means of bringing his light into your darkness, his hope into your despair.
1. When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God — and Joy (Book)
“Christ dove headfirst into the darkness so that we might have eternal, unfading, always-increasing light.”
Even the most faithful, focused Christians can encounter periods of depression and spiritual darkness when joy seems to stay just out of reach. It can happen because of sin, satanic assault, distressing circumstances, or hereditary and other physical causes. In When the Darkness Will Not Lift, John Piper aims to give some comfort and guidance to those experiencing spiritual darkness.
Readers will gain insight into the physical side of depression and spiritual darkness, what it means to wait on the Lord in a time of darkness, how unconfessed sin can clog our joy, and how to minister to others who are living without light. Piper uses real-life examples and sensitive narrative to show readers abundant reason to hope that God will pull them out of the pit of despair and into the light once again.
2. Battling the Unbelief of Despondency (Sermon)
The Psalms speak again and again to those walking through darkness. In this sermon, Pastor John unfolds hope, security, and satisfaction in Psalm 73. What do we do when we come to an end of ourselves — exhausted, depleted of resources to handle life’s problems? We remind ourselves of our Treasure in heaven.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)
3. God Is with You in Depression (10-Minute Interview)
Author Randy Alcorn is no foreigner to depression. He has journeyed through dark seasons — once for four months on end — and offers this word of hope to the Christian: “God is there with you in the depression.” Don’t wait till the depression passes to seek God, advises Alcorn. He’s not waiting for you to come out of it before walking with you, but he’s eager to walk with you in the midst of it.
4. What Does Christian Hedonism Offer the Depressed? (Ask Pastor John Podcast)
“Don’t wait till the depression passes to seek God. He is eager to walk with you in the midst of it.”
In four minutes, Pastor John reads from and explains Psalm 139 to try and offer comfort and hope for those in the midst of depression. David writes, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Psalm 139:11–12). He ends with a powerful example from his pastoral ministry.
5. The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd (Book)
John Bunyan suffered long-term imprisonment and was moved to rely on God even more. Despite month after month of debilitating depression, William Cowper’s poetry reflected the sustaining character of God and led him to worship more deeply. David Brainerd so desired to honor God that through the loneliness of wilderness ministry and the agony of tuberculosis, he pressed on, transforming world missions forever. Their stories and witness in this book will inspire in you a similar passion for the supremacy of God in your life, even in dark and depressing times.
6. Spiritual Depression in the Psalms (Sermon)
In this sermon, Pastor John preaches a series of six steps for walking through seasons of darkness in our lives, following David’s example in Psalm 42. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God” (Psalm 42:5).
It’s not wrong to want relief from the darkness and to pray for it. It is sometimes right to pray for the defeat of enemies. But more important than any of that is God himself. When we think and feel with God in the Psalms, this is the main result: We come to love God, and we want to see God and be with God and be satisfied in admiring and exulting in God.
The sermon also draws on Martin Lloyd-Jones’s classic book by the same title, Spiritual Depression. Lloyd-Jones exhorts us to preach to ourselves: “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” (20).
7. Hope for the Despairing Heart (Article)
Christina Fox has battled depression on and off since adolescence, beginning with one difficult year when her grandmother passed away, she switched schools, and lost several close friendships. Now a trained counselor, she shares the seed of hope that put her on a trajectory of healing. There are promises deeper and more powerful than your pain and depression.
8. God’s Beauty for the Bored, Busy, and Depressed (Article)
“There are promises deeper and more powerful than your pain and depression.”
This interview with Dane Ortlund addresses several broken conditions of the human heart by highlighting how God’s beauty brings freedom and healing in our busyness, temptations, boredom, and depression. In the last section of the article (“Beauty and Depression”), Ortlund offers six pieces of pastoral counsel to the depressed. And it’s all presented through the lens of Jonathan Edwards’s preaching and ministry.
9. Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness (Book by Ed Welch)
Where is God in the struggle? Looking away from despair towards hope can feel risky. What if God doesn’t come through for you? What if you don’t feel instantly better? Instead of offering simple platitudes or unrealistic “cure-all” formulas, Edward T. Welch, a biblical counselor at CCEF (the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation) who specializes in these matters, addresses the complex nature of depression with compassion and insight, applying the rich treasures of the gospel, and giving fresh hope to those who struggle.
10. Battling Depression . . . Redemption, Medication, and Christ (4-Minute Video)
We asked Ed Welch what role antidepressant medications can and should play in people’s lives who are battling with depression. He answers and concludes with a challenge to pastors — and to everyone who seeks to care for those suffering from depression — to magnify Christ and to maintain focus on the life and hope we have in him.
11. The Darkness of Depression (40-Minute Audio Interview)
What is a biblical understanding of depression? Is it simply a biochemical malfunction? In this podcast, Russell Moore is joined by the CCEF’s David Powlison for a helpful conversation on the subject.