Yes, even pastors get depressed from time to time. Sometimes that depression can be debilitating. One out of 20 Americans could be diagnosed with clinical depression, and one out of four is over 50 years of age. Depression is real. It can affect anyone at any time and for any number of reasons. It can be a chemical imbalance, physical changes, hypoglycemic condition, physical problems, viral infections, flu, drug misuse, vitamin/mineral shortage and even fatigue. All of these require the attention of a physician.
Depression can also be spiritually based. When you are hurt, divorced, widowed, unemployed, guilty, lonely, empty, or you have lost a sense of belonging, lack of self-worth, lack of feeling essential to others, lack of intimacy with God, all can contribute to depression.
The “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:13) is a description of our God. This leads us to the only permanent source of victory over spiritual depression, the LORD Himself.
Here are some practical steps to help us deal with the problem of discouragement and depression. These are written specifically for the pastor and his family but they can apply to anyone. Please take time to read the Scripture references attached to each step. God’s Word is powerful and life-transforming.
Believe God is Greater than your Problems.
No matter what circumstances have gotten you down, God is great and more powerful than anything you are facing today. “Look Up!” God can help you. He loves you. He cares for you. He wants the best for you (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22).
Turn Your Problems over to God in Prayer.
Pray specifically. Rather than praying for God to take every problem away, pray that God will give you an understanding of His perspective on the problem (James 1:5).
Believe that God has a Unique Purpose for your Life.
What is God trying to accomplish in your life through these hurtful circumstances? Invite God to work in and through your circumstances to reveal His will (Proverbs 3:5-6; Colossians 1:9-12).
Recognize that Depression feeds on Self-pity.
When we feel depressed we also tend to feel sorry for ourselves. One of the best ways to defeat this attitude is to do something for someone else. This action alone will take the focus off of ourselves and place it on others. The happiest people I know are those who are serving others (Galatians 5:13).
Realize that you may be under spiritual attack and experiencing spiritual warfare.
Yes, the enemy is real and you are his prime target. He will attempt to discourage you and keep you off balance (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Enlist people to pray with you during this time of intensified warfare. God has promised ultimate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
Remember God’s Love and Faithfulness.
God has declared His unfailing love for you. He is faithful and you can depend on Him. He has promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Embrace your experience with full confidence that when you come out of it, you will be a more useful tool in the hands of God.
Job 23:10 – “But he knows the way I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
Just one more thought to share with you…please don’t hesitate to contact your physician if you are struggling. Depression that lasts longer than a few weeks may be symptomatic of a chemical imbalance in the brain. There is no shame in taking an antidepressant just as there is no shame in taking medicine for any other kind of illness. You don’t have to struggle alone. Reach out for help.
At Care for Pastors, we love pastors and we understand the unique challenges of pastoral ministry. We stand ready to help. Reach out to us at careforpastors.org.