God Used Depression to Set Me Free

There was a time in my life when I felt completely ashamed of letting people see into my struggles with depression. There was a time when I would have never told anyone that I was taking medication and seeing a therapist for my “issues.” But now, by God’s grace, I am an open book–literally (eh-hem, Named by God + Raw Faith). My healing from depression has come directly out of the one place I was most scared of–acknowledging it.

I was depressed in my teen years as I wrestled with the aftermath of sexual abuse. I was depressed in college as I searched for meaning and significance. I was depressed as a new mother facing the challenges of crazy hormones, breast-feeding, and sleep deprivation. I was depressed when captive in the sin of adultery. I was depressed after I felt rejected and shunned from my hometown, and friends seemed to despise me. I was depressed when my mother died from cancer, and then depressed when I was diagnosed with my own cancer.

Hello, my name is Kasey Van Norman, and I have struggled with depression . . . a lot.

I am not ashamed, guilt-ridden, or scared to tell you about, because here is what the Bible tells me (and you) about me . . .

It’s not a sin to be sad. It’s not a sin to be heartbroken. And when something hits you in the chest so hard you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to breathe again, that’s not a sin either. While sin can lead to depression (as was the case for King David), depression does not always lead to sin (as in the case of Elijah).

Depression is an important issue—and one that affects many of us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 10 Americans suffer from depression. On a global level, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. And if you do a little digging in scripture, you’ll find quite a few depressed people on the pages of the Old and New Testaments. Take King David, for example. He wrote about the depression that came over him as a result of the unconfessed sin in his heart from his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.

My guilt overwhelms me—
it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins.

I am bent over and racked with pain.
all day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken.

I am exhausted and completely crushed.
my groans come from an anguished heart. {Psalm 38:4-8}

God used Nehemiah’s deep sadness over the state of Jerusalem to get the king’s attention so Nehemiah was able to return to his homeland.

“The king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? you don’t look sick to me. you must be deeply troubled.” “Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” {Nehemiah 2:2-3}

If anyone in the Bible had reason to feel depressed, it was Job. After losing all his possessions, livelihood, and almost everyone he loved, he went so far as to curse the day of his birth:

“Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why was I laid on my mother’s lap? Why did she nurse me at her breasts?” {Job 3:1-7, 11-12}

Then there was Elijah, who despite the mountaintop experience he’d just had defeating the false god Baal, felt so isolated and depressed that he wanted to die:

“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” {1 Kings 19:4}

God not only acknowledges people struggling with depression, but he also welcomes and hears the cries of those who call to him out of the depths of their sadness. I adore the fact that God intentionally places raw humanity in the Bible.

I truly believe God wants us to know that seasons of depression will come, and when they do, the key to healing is simply and honestly being present with Him in the pain; not shaming ourselves because of it.

Yes, I am all for antidepressants (for a time), healthy eating, lots of exercise, reading good books, and meeting with a Godly counselor. All of those pieces are helpful, good, and I’ve personally tried them all. But even on a good day, those pieces cannot make us whole; they cannot truly heal us. They are external, mortal, man-made bits–not internal, divine, heart-healing wholes with the power to set us free.

Instead of caving under feelings of shame that we are struggling, how about we see our depression from a new perspective–Gods.  His Word is packed full of people struggling with sin, doubt, & depression.  I believe they are there to show us how radical his love is for us even in the midst of our struggle. Depression is simply His way of loving us enough. Depression strips down everything and everyone we have been depending upon so that they no longer meet a need. Depression can push us to our breaking point so that we truly see, perhaps for the first time in our life, that no other person, thing, or thrill, outside of God, is meant to heal us.  Depression takes us to the end of ourselves so that we might truly live. Depression only proves to us that everything outside of God was designed and destined to disappoint us.

Personally, I was set free from the bondage of depression when I stopped looking at depression, and started seeing God as my only choice; my only thrill; my only master; the only power to heal, satisfy, and set me free to live.

[elijah] lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! so he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” so he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to mount sinai, the mountain of God. {1 kings 19:5-8}

My prayer for you…be honest where you are. Come before your Creator with all confidence, knowing full well that He is not surprised by your sadness. He is not shocked by your anxiety. He is not discouraged that you just can’t seem to get a grip. He is not unaware of your pain.  He is not dismissive of your doubting. He is not frustrated, overwhelmed, or confined by your season of depression.  He is, however, planning to use every moment for His glory and for your freedom.

He will say to you, as He said to me (and Elijah)—“Get up and Eat!”

About Kasey Van Norman

Kasey is a Bible teacher who is passionate about people and the proclaiming of the Gospel. As the founder and president of Kasey Van Norman Ministries, based in College Station, Texas, her heart’s desire is to be a fresh voice […]

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Comments

  1. Steve Carder says:

    interesting

  2. Rachel Camarena says:

    Thank you. I have lots of the things you mentioned. It really helped me…God Bless you.

  3. Julie Taylor says:

    This writer says some great things about depression. Feeling sad is not a sin. Many people in the Bible were depressed and God took care of them.

  4. Thank you for the post. I needed to know that depression was not a sin. If only my family understood that it's not a sin and it is ok to put faith in God for healing than just medication.

  5. Yasmin Barriera says:

    I love it! It's so encouraging when you find a person that have both; experienced depression and a positive view of the condition. I hope this message help people to see God's faithful love & helpful hand while they are struggling with depression's stages. YOU can be set free, too!!! Shalom.

  6. Thank you.

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