Christians get depressed too—even pastors. I know because it’s part of my story.
Years ago, my family and I went through a series of difficult events. I was hurt. I was bitter. It led me down a dark road.
The first feeling I remember was like being tired. I didn’t know I was depressed. But getting out of bed every day took all the strength I could muster.
I had been working in the trenches of ministry for years. Was I just burnt out? I’ve heard so much about burnout. Maybe this was it.
So I got a lot of rest, but it didn’t go away.
If you saw me at church or around town, I would have smiled and told you I was good. On the outside, I wore the mask that so many Christians do. Inside, I was dying.
My wife will tell you that it was the darkest year of our life. I was tired and sad every day. I was present with my wife and kids physically, but mentally I had checked out.
Six months in, I finally admitted that I wasn’t just burnt out. I was depressed.
But I’m a pastor! I’m not supposed to get depressed. How could this happen to me?
I’ve never shared this with anyone before (except my wife). And the reason I’m writing about it now is that, by the grace of God, I’ve overcome my depression, and I believe you can too.
Before I get into the things that God used to help me pull out of a year of depression, I need to make a few important disclaimers.
Many factors lead to depression. We still have much to learn about what causes it.
In this article, I’m not talking about depression caused by mental illness. I have a close family member who has a mental illness that causes depression. He will battle it every day of his life, and I thank God for advances in psychology and medicine that have helped him manage it.
So if you are wrestling with a mental illness and need to take medication to manage your depression, let me be the first to tell you that it’s OK.
There’s a terrible stigma in the church about taking medication to manage clinical depression. It’s wrong. God doesn’t love you any less if you need medicine. Nobody should be looked down upon for getting help.
Also, please know that I’m not a professional psychologist. I can only speak about my experience. If you need help, please talk to a professional.
The tips I’m suggesting here are what helped me to pull out of a dark time in my life.
There was no magic fix. The climb out was slow and painful. It didn’t happen overnight.
But over time, the depression faded into the background, and I have moved on.
Here are the 10 things that helped me.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)
Yell at God if you need to. Tell him all your frustrations. Don’t stop. He can handle it.
When I was depressed, I blamed God. I was mad at him for allowing this to happen to me. I played the victim, and my prayer life suffered.
Things started to turn around for me only after I started praying again. Just know that it didn’t happen overnight. I prayed day after day, month after month.
God is faithful. He hears your prayers. Don’t stop.