I find myself at times struggling with the idea of whether I am currently depressed or whether this is just “life”. I think for many years I had myself deceived into thinking that the opposite of depression was happiness. But when I look at the reality of how life works out and see the lives of saints depicted in the scriptures I am convinced that the opposite of depression has very little to do with happiness.
I have been considering the life of Jesus. We have no evidence to indicate that Jesus ever experienced depression and we do have a scriptural basis to see that He had a perfect and holy relationship with the Lord and His life was free of sin. Yet with having this life of righteousness our Lord experienced the following:
- Immense trials
- Interpersonal conflicts
- Family disputes
- Death of a beloved friend
- People pulling Him in every direction
- Pain and suffering
- False accusations
- Altercations with community/spiritual leaders
- Political unrest
What I see when I look at this long list is the fact that life is hard. Simple as that. Overcoming depression does not mean that I will be happy. It means that I can continue to function, continue to serve others, continue to worship, etc in spite of my trials and tribulations. Overcoming depression means that I can continue to have a right view, a truthful view, of who I am and my position in Christ in spite of the fact that my world is crashing down around me.
I think it would be important to clarify a few things about depression.
- Grief is not the same as depression. It can sometimes lead to depression but it can exist without the presence of depression.
- Sorrow is not the same as depression. It can sometimes lead to depression but sorrow is a part of every life. Even the life that is free of depression.
So… what is it?
Depression is a form of self hatred, self loathing. It is an inability to function, an impairment. It isn’t a sin but some of the actions we take as a result of the depression are, in fact, sin. Depression is a characterized by unhealthy (and untrue) thoughts, over focusing on self, inability to maintain relationships and responsibilities.
So what is the opposite?
Well, I think about this a lot and I’m no expert. But I think the opposite of depression may be found in the word of God. And while this isn’t a complete list, it does give us an idea of what the non-depressed life might look like according to God’s word.
Contentment with our circumstances.
- Godliness with contentment is great gain. I Timothy 6:6
Joy in spite of our circumstances
- Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
- For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Romans 14: 17 – 18
- You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering you welcomed the message with joy given by the Holy Spirit. I Thess 1:6
Thankfulness….again…. in spite of circumstances
- You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks forever. Psalm 30: 11- 12
- Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel 6:10
- Give thanks in all circumstances (note that it says IN all circumstances not FOR all circumstances), for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thess 5:18
The opposite of depression isn’t happiness or the end of bad days or the absence of trials. It is simply having a right view of ourselves and an ability to be content, be thankful and worship our Holy Creator.