Updated: May 28, 2019
Understanding the spiritual principles behind depression
The condition of feeling sad or despondent.
A mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness or inability to experience pleasure combined with other symptoms including poor concentration, indecisiveness, sleep problems, changes in appetite, and feelings of guilt,helplessness, and hopelessness. Also called clinical depression, major depressive disorder.
a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.
There is a difference between grief and depression, even though grief is one of the elements of depression. Grief will often be experienced within a certain time frame as in the gradual process of grieving the loss of a loved one. However, grief can progress towards depression which often seems to be an endless abyss of sorrow. Depression may also arise from no apparent or visible reason on the surface... but there is certainly a spiritual origin.
In the physical we see depression as a mental illness and something that can be remedied with medicines or psychological treatment. There are indeed times when there are biological imbalances that are necessary to address. However, the spiritual aspect is rarely visited in an effort to discover why such an affliction exists.
Oftentimes within the religious community an individual is prayed for by the congregation and at times referred to as being tormented by an evil spirit. Various exorcisms are practiced and a number of prayers are given depending on the religious entity.
One scripture that Christians use and claim as the remedy to depression is found in the book of Isaiah and often taken out of context. The individual experiencing depression is told to "Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness". However, if we read the passage carefully we come to find that what is often spoken is not what's actually written.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified" (Isaiah 61:1-3, KJV).
The prophet is proclaiming that the Spirit of the LORD is upon him and that he has been sent to comfort them that mourn. To proclaim liberty/freedom to those who are enslaved and ....to give the garment/spirit of praise to those who are in a spirit of "heaviness"
But what does "heaviness" mean? What was the original Hebrew word used and what was its meaning?
The original word used in Hebrew was כָּהָה kâhâh, kaw-haw', (H3544,Strong's Concordance), meaning "feeble, obscure". It is used in the sense of failing or physical weakness. In 1 Samuel 3:2, it references the eyes of Eli which began to wax dim that he could not see. This same Hebrew word is being used in this particular passage to describe a physical state of weakness or depletion of physical strength. In other words, this prophet will bring a song of joy/praise to those who are weak in spirit.
"A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth" (Isaiah 42:3, KJV). The "smoking flax" is indicative of faintness and weakness. Referencing the lack of bodily strength. While it can be argued that depression is symbolic of faintness of spirit, the passage does not state that it is a spirit of depression.
In actuality, the word "mourn" within this same passage (Isaiah 61:1-3) is more applicable to that of grievance and deep sadness. The original Hebrew word used is אֵבֶל ʼêbel, (H60 Strong's Concordance) meaning, "lamentation, mourning for the dead, mourning garb/apparel". This word occurs 24 times in the 1st Testament Hebrew.
An expression of deep sorrow or grief; Deep mental anguish, as that arising from bereavement, or an instance of this.
Deep or intense sorrow or distress, esp at the death of someone.
something that causes keen distress or suffering.
Most cases involving this state of grievance in scripture concerns instances of death or disappointment in reference to a strict judgement given by the LORD. There were particular cases in which the individual expressed a state synonymous with that of depression due to unfortunate circumstances. For example, the book of Lamentations which was written after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. This book describes the extreme sorrow of the people of Israel when taken into captivity by the Babylonians. It is safe to say that they were extremely depressed.
However, there was an escape from this mental anguish and it lies within the pages of ancient scripture.
Getting to the Heart Of The Matter
Depression is a very dangerous affliction in that the one who succumbs to its power is at risk of suffering a fatal end. Unfortunately, some of the medications and treatments prescribed, on some occasions, makes the situation worse. Very few truly know the spiritual force behind this affliction and thereby are not truly aware of the best way to bring about healing of the mind and heart.
The first step towards contentment is the acknowledgement of the CREATOR. The CREATOR designed the mind and the spirit of man and therefore knows how these elements function and what causes debilitation of both aspects. We should begin by first acknowledging this fact regardless of one's religious label. If you are suffering from depression and would like further information please consider being a part of the 6 week online program "Depression" 2019 designed to inform you of not only the physical elements of depression but the spiritual aspects behind it as well.
There is a Proverb that reads, "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?"
It is difficult to face depression alone. If you are reading this and suffering from depression it is evidence that there is a small part of you that is searching for a way out...searching for peace, contentment, and meaning. I am here for you...to listen and to help when you're ready. It may not seem like it, but this is a difficult fight for survival...a fight for something precious and sacred...You.
Take one moment, one day ...at a time.
If you are willing...I will help.
We can walk through this together.
As always, Let me know your thoughts!