Many Christians suffering from severe depression have found themselves beginning to question if God is actually good. We may wonder how a loving, gracious God could allow such unrivalled suffering, and not end it instantly by His power.
During the blackest phase of depression, I kept reminding myself that God was faithful, but as the days dragged into weeks and months with no improvement in sight, I despaired and wrote diary entries like this:
27th March 1990 – How will I ever trust You again? I’ll have great confidence that every time I go through a major crisis, You’ll do nothing, You’ll say nothing, You’ll do nothing…I know You are Faithful and True, I know You can do anything You want. I know it’s Your will to heal all who are sick or under Satan’s power. I know You love us and want to help us…and I know that You will help me out of this nightmare one day…But why oh why do You tarry so long…what DO YOU WANT FROM ME!”
One problem is our modern mindset - we have forgotten what it means to wait. We have become impatient, expecting instant service, instant dinners, fast food restaurants, fast internet connection, motorised transport, and so on. We apply this same thinking to our sufferings, forgetting that God works according to His timetable, not ours. When we do not get want we want from God as quickly as we desire it, typical reactions may be to question, doubt, grumble or complain.
Some who are suffering from depression accuse God of treating humanity like a science experiment. They compare us to ants, struggling to overcome obstacles and sufferings placed deliberately in our way by an impersonal, uncaring God as He conducts experiments upon us.
When I was younger, I used to study ants for hours. Once I bought an ant farm and placed a pregnant ant queen in it. Within two years, I had a thriving ant colony on my hands. I fed them, gave them water, and cared for them as treasured pets.
One day a savage summer heat-wave caused every ant in the little colony to die of dehydration. Their passing saddened me, but as they were just ants, I put the matter behind me and got on with my life.
Now is that what God did with us? When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, resulting in the death of their spirits, did He put the matter behind Him and say, “Oh, that’s too bad, but they’re only something I created. I’ll forget about them and do something else now.”
No, that was not God’s reaction at all. In fact, the Bible tells us that God loves us so much, that even before He created the Earth, Jesus had already been chosen to save us from the curse of sin and death.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21
Although I had cared for my ants and did not want them to suffer and die, I would never have considered becoming one of them, taking their sufferings upon myself, and dying in their place so that they could live.
Yet that is what God did for us. God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, upon seeing our plight (which we brought upon ourselves through deliberate disobedience) left heaven, become human, suffered and died in our place so that we could be restored to Him. How much more proof do we need that God is good and truly loves us! Here are some Bible verses where God demonstrates His love for us through the atoning death of Jesus.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:10
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
That God is not good, faithful and trustworthy is an age-old attack that Satan has been throwing at humans since the dawn of creation. This is the very attack-strategy he used against Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5
Satan tried to convince Eve that God was holding back on her, that He could not be trusted. Eve decided to listen to Satan, the great deceiver, instead of holding to God’s Word and trusting that He was telling the truth.
“The doubt concerning God’s goodness, as Oswald Chambers so trenchantly put it, is the real root of sin. Embedded like splintered glass at the core of our souls is the suspicion that God does not have our best interests at heart. Unless that issue is exposed and dealt with, our hearts will never be truly pure.” Every Day with Jesus, Jul/Aug 2000, Fri 4 Aug, by Selwyn Hughes, CWR.
Let us be mindful that Satan deliberately attacks Christians when they are down – he targets those suffering with depression and whispers lies into their minds, trying to convince them that God is not good, that He is not faithful and trustworthy.
All of these lies were thrown at me while depressed, but this is the conclusion I reached:
20th July 90 –
I hate being so irritable and frustrated, so disturbed,
All day, every day.
And it never ends.
Oh Lord, where are You?
I feel like getting so angry with You.
I guess it all boils down to this:
Are You trustworthy or not?
I know the answer is yes.
In time, I did make a complete recovery from depression, and the Lord blessed me with a fulfilling and fruitful life. During my recovery from depression, He drew me closer to Him, showed me how to rely upon His strength, and set me free from bondages and fears that had ensnared me for decades.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
Now I am the first to acknowledge that circumstances do not always turn out as we expect, but we need to keep things in perspective. We Christians are travelers passing through this world on our way to heaven. The sufferings we endure here pale into insignificance compared to the glories and blessings that await us in heaven. Most of all, they pale into grey when compared to the riches of having an eternal relationship with our loving God and Creator.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
All verses from the NIV.