Cure for Depression

There is an absolute cure for depression.  I know because it happened to me some years ago – with total relief ever since.  It was spiritual not medical, a happening, a visitation by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.  The “fruit” of His visit included what the Bible calls “the joy of the Lord”.

In a recent article neurologist Oliver Sacks stated the brain itself causes such transcendental experiences.  He says they aren’t supernatural.  I say, of course my brain was involved but it was not the cause.  The brain needs to be stimulated in order to react.  No antidepressants or other drugs were involved: I’d been clean and sober for years.  It was a joyful feeling different from any happiness I could remember.  I thought so this is the “joy of the Lord”.  The next day it was still there.  I was surprised – lasting joy!  I had always assumed I was meant to feel slightly discontented so as to be motivated.  Not now.  Joy is now my default emotion!  God wants me to feel good about myself even when “sad”.  It seems contradictory.  But it’s real, a permanent substratum, the result of His being with me through good and bad.

So the Holy Spirit caused my happiness.  Studying brain function (which I did for a PhD in psychology) gave me no great joy.  But the Holy Spirit improved my brain function.  More than happiness, JOTL is deeper, and lasting.

How to get it

Ask and you will receive.  The Gospel of Luke states this as an imperative – “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:19. However, it is God who decides when and where you receive. As Jesus states in John 3:8, the wind blows where it chooses, as to those born of the Spirit.. Here are the changes I made to be more accessible to receiving;

1)      Remained abstinent from mind/mood altering drugs including alcohol.

2)      Praised God and worshipped God (daily).

3)      Mourned my losses: let go and let God (see below).

4)      Kept asking the Holy Spirit to come (prayer).

5)      Studied God’s Word – daily devotional.

6)      Exercised and kept fit.

7)      Helped others when I could.

8)      Fellowshipped and conversed with good people about Godly things.

9)      Took cold showers and swam in cold water.

10)   Moved to the front in church and sang loud.

11)   Smiled.

The Bible has a lot to say about depression: it just uses different terminology.  The first thing Jesus preached was “good news” for the “poor in Spirit” because they could enter His “kingdom”. (Matthew 5:3)  Then He said that those who “mourn” would “be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).  So not only does Jesus have the answer, He is the answer.  In the OT the book of Ecclesiastes clearly states that without God the world is a depressing place.   In fact, the wiser you are, the sadder you will be.  Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.     

Mourn your losses

The Bible says there’s good sorrow and bad sorrow.  (II Corinthians 7:10)  For Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 

Worldly sorrow is depression.  Godly sorrow is a healing process that leads to contrition and repentance.  You mourn because you have totally given up the person, place, thing or idea you valued so highly.  You go through it all like a heavy waterfall.  Don’t worry.  When you come out, the sun is shining.  Good grief!  Mourning is temporary.

Mourning is more intense than depression.  We naturally fear having to live with the loss.  However, the good news is that mourning is short-lived.  And God constantly promises to help us go through it.  When we emerge from the grief, as we eventually do, the sun shines again.

Depression, on the other hand, never quits.

Great men and women of God suffered “melancholia” in times past until they completely surrendered to God.  Charles Spurgeon was often depressed.  Billy Graham was “spiritually dead” prior to being born again.  Franklin Graham was “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.  St. Augustine wrote his famous “Confessions” about the depths he experienced before turning completely to the will of his saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

David of Judea and even Jesus Christ both asked, God, why have you forsaken me?   (Jesus in Matthew 27:46 David in Psalm 22)  There’s no use telling yourself God hasn’t abandoned you when you really think He has.  You’ve got to go to the Source.       

Let go and let God

A man falls off a cliff but grabs a branch.  Dangling above the chasm, he cries out.

Man: Is anybody up there.

Voice: YES

Man: What should I do?

Voice: LET GO

Man: Is anybody else up there? 

Lasting depression is caused by hanging on to something God wants me to let go of.  It can easily be some idea of myself, some false identity.  (After all, I am a psychologist, am I not?)  As long as I hang onto it, I am “of the world” and not just “in it”.

You may not be fully aware of exactly what or whom you are idolizing.  You won’t give it up because it seems so important.  It might be your ministry.  That person, place, thing, important activity or beloved idea is an idol.  Hanging onto it can eventually kill you; the Bible says it “worketh death”.  If you hang on to it/him/her, you remain intractably depressed and there seems no way out.  However, you are deceived: the way out of depression is to become willing to let go completely.

Don’t idolize your life

Jesus said that whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. (Luke 17:33)  I actually did very little except quit resisting.  Then God took over.  I just let Him do His job.

Hand it over to Lord Jesus.  Give Him your cherished self-concept: you’re a new creature in Christ now.  Give Him your idolized, unsaved child: s/he’s the Lord’s child now.  Surrender your drug-abusing partner to God: s/he’s God’s problem now.  Give UP the idea you will ever get healed the way YOU think you should: let the Lord work in His inscrutable way with your health.  God’s will be done, not yours.  Surrender your life to Him – total, absolute surrender.

Sound impossible?  Letting go completely means total loss and total loss means unbearable grief.  But that’s your only choice, unbearable grief vs. interminable depression.  If you choose grief, you will find grief is temporary and God will send His comforter, the Holy Spirit, to get you though.  If you choose to remain in depression, He makes no such promises.  In fact that’s the problem in a nutshell: God appears to forsake the depressed while He blesses those who repent and mourn.

Summing up

When something or someone really important to you such as your old self-concept or self-confidence, your idea of healing, your beloved child, your spouse, your ministry, your belief in yourself, your own wisdom (Ecclesiastes 1:18), your position in the world, your idea of success, even your religious views, but particularly your very cherished ideas of happiness and contentment, does not pan out, you get depressed.  Someone or something is more important to you than almighty God.  When you recognize your idolatrous state and really let God run the show, then you will let go of worldly sorrow.  You will mourn the idols now gone forever.  Good grief is the cure for depression.

Surrender requires trust in God.  “He will bring it to pass.”  (Read Psalm 37 and take it to heart.)  Ask God to remove ALL your old ideas.  Begin afresh.  Let him give you new ideas about relationships, healing, love, salvation, your profession, your ministry, and of course, about depression and happiness.  He will renew your mind in His time.  Just do what is required.  Be patient.  He will bring it to pass.  God will turn your mourning into joy and “gird” you with gladness (Psalm 30:11).  You will be more content than you ever thought possible.

Dr Charles Slack