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How can I handle discouragement and depression?

Approximately seven per cent of Americans, nearly fourteen million, experience depressive disorders. Since the bride of Christ is to go through the same experiences as the rest of the race (1 Corinthians 10:13), it is no surprise that true Christians often experience the same disorder. This issue of The Herald is dedicated to taking a Scriptural look at this serious ailment to see how some of the great heroes of the Bible fought this disabling problem.

The first article, Coping with Depression, provides an overview of the subject and shows the difference between clinical and spiritual depression.

Then we look at the lives of biblical individuals who struggled with this problem. Job’s Depression and Final Victory explores Job’s conflict with depression and how he handled it.

David at Gath analyzes the beloved king’s behavior and how he later repented of his actions when he wrote a psalm about his emotions.

Out of the Depths is a verse-by-verse study of David’s hymn of thanksgiving found in Psalm 130. He thanks the Lord for the many times God delivered him from all dangers, both real and fancied.

King Saul’s Woes shows us a king who was not successful fighting his mood swings. Even the therapeutic sound of David’s harp could not control him in his fits of rage.

Peter’s Discouragement looks at how Peter fought his battle with discouragement after he realized he had disavowed knowing his Lord and Master.

The Tears of a Prophet describes how the sorrow Jeremiah felt over the future of his beloved Jerusalem caused him to write an entire epic poem of his lamentations.

The concluding article, As a Man Thinketh, finishes our analysis of this subject and prescribes proper self-love, as distinguished from self-esteem, as an antidote.

If you are one of the many who has been discouraged or depressed, we hope you find this issue of The Herald of special benefit.

Read more here:

Bible Student elder Tim Krupa talks about despair and discouragement here:   Tim_Krupa_Despair_And_Discouragement

58 comments to How can I handle discouragement and depression?

  • rune

    Rough translation by Jacqueline.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses are true, there are many good people become depressed. So is a human face. It is the same phenomenon as the general public.

    • Jacqueline

      Thanks for your comment and coming to the site. Jacqueline

  • Shemika

    Thanks Bob. I’ve seen opportunities to educate people on certain situations, but people don’t always listen or think you’re crazy. For example, there were many times I wanted to school my former co-worker about situations according to what I was taught from attending meetings. I recall a conversation we had about the 2008 election, voting, and Obama. He asked me did I vote. I told him I didn’t. I told him the reason and it is almost like he got offended. He even went to the Inauguration. I know as Witnesses we are to profess the good news to people, but sometimes it seems out of vain. The human race as a whole are set in their ways and it is very hard to convince them otherwise (even when you know the truth). The killing of Bin Laden comes to mind. Although there are many people around the world that are relieved, there are just as many (if not more) that are not happy. For this reason, I am a bit weary. It is very hard to be happy and celebrate when retaliation and revenge is in effect. I constantly seek Jehovah and His Son’s guidance for strength and wisdom. I like how you use the example of Daniel and how he didn’t save him FROM BEING IN THE LION’S DEN, but instead SAVED HIM AFTERWARDS. Jehovah doesn’t protect us from hardships as those are the tests we have to endure, but he does help us to get through them by giving us what we need at the moment. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I know Jehovah has a purpose for me. I’m not sure what it is and I know He will reveal it to me when HE knows I’m ready. That’s not to say that I’m not eager about my purpose. One thing I would dislike is having it revealed to me and I go out and do something foolish trying to help others who can’t help themselves or trying to serve some selfish purpose for myself thinking it is the right thing. There is a VERY big difference between being eager about something and being ready. Eagerness spells trouble; readiness requires responsibility and being prepared. Sometimes I am guilty of “leaning upon my own understanding” because I’m so used to pretty much doing things on my own. I don’t have anyone helping me and it is tough. When I catch myself doing this, I stop and remind myself that I’m putting myself before Jehovah and his wisdom. I’m not doing this alone nor do I have to do it alone. Jehovah is and will continue to direct my steps as long as I keep doing His will. Thank you so much Bob for the encouragement and advice. It’s always refreshing to hear from someone that knows what you are going through. I hope you continue to pray for me.

    Neda, glad I could make your day. Don’t feel depressed or discouraged. There are better days ahead.

  • neda

    thanks shemika that really helped me i was feelin really depressed today and i felt like no one was here for me and then i came to the site and i saw your topic …. it really gave me some word of encouragement and let me know that im no alone like i thought i was …. thank a lot …. it gave me a better prospective … and a bettta day …. blessings to u….

  • Bob

    Hi Shemika,
    I’m glad to hear from you. I can sympathize with how you feel. Most followers of Jehovah, who try to do His will, feel out of sorts with the rest of the world. Don’t try to save the world, leave that to its creator. Do what you can for individuals as opportunities present themselves. Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of the world, but He turned them down. However, He did help individuals who approached Him. The fact that you reached out to anonymous and offered your help shows you have a good and caring heart. Let God and His Son grant you the wisdom and courage you need.
    When I feel stressed out or depressed I consider the biblical examples of faith and courage, people such as Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. While a slave he was imprisoned for maintaining his integrity. How easy it would have been for Joseph to turn bitter against God and to spiral down to self pity, depression and doubt. I’m sure Joseph must have felt very lonely in that foreign jail. He kept his faith in God through his ordeal and God helped him by making him prosper while in prison. Then according to His time table, God made him second only to Pharaoh so as to accomplish His will.
    The same can be said of Daniel, who was surrounded by enemies. God did not save him from being thrown into the lion’s den; He saved him after he was in the lion’s den.
    Likewise God has a purpose for you, ask Him what it is and He will reveal it to you on a need to know basis. Be patient; don’t try to guess ahead of Him.
    You are in my prayers, may God grant you the peace of mind you seek. Always remember; if God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat. 🙂

  • Shemika

    I most definitely agree with you, Bob. Jehovah knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we need and he knows what our personal struggles are. He also knows what we are capable of even when we don’t. He knows what we can do. I know my personal situation is happening for a reason and that it is preparing me for something far greater than what I might have planned or imagined. This is how I know that I am supposed to do his will. I feel it stronger now more than ever with each passing day. However, I’m not sure how. I know the answer lies in prayer. I feel out of control and weak, but I know my situation is out of my hands and it is something that I just so happen to be in the middle of . In my quest for self awareness, I know that part of my will is to help others. I’m not sure how because I don’t think I have the wisdom or courage to help another being. I want to help others, but I can’t save the world. Growing up, I always knew I was different. I never knew how nor did I know why. I still don’t to this day. I’m certain part of it is because I am a Jehovah’s Witness. I’ve never had any interest nor the desire to conform to what this world considers cool or popular. I’m not insanely weird, but I do tend to march to the beat of my own drum. Point is that it is not in my personal best interest to serve man but to serve God and do HIS will.

  • Shemika

    Anonymous I feel your pain. I don’t know your personal situation but I can relate. I know Jehovah doesn’t want us to be treated with anything other than brotherly love, but in these times, its very hard to find. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes the ones closest to you (family and friends) will hurt you the most and treat you like dirt. This also includes the brothers and sisters at the Kingdom Hall. They top the list when things are the worst. Don’t let people fool you; there are wolves in sheep’s clothing at the meetings too. When the chips are down, they are nowhere to be found. I pretty much stay as far away from these people as possible. I want to have nothing to do with them. I know that is harsh, but it is the truth of the matter. My particular congregation was known to have “wolves” attending the meetings. Very few still go to this congregation anymore, but there are still some there. Some of the sisters there get in there little “cliques” after the meeting and gossip like hens. There is one sister in particular that has it bad. I’m not particularly fond of her. Growing up, my family didn’t have a car to attend meetings so we would either catch the bus or catch a cab. Every so often someone would be nice enough to give us a ride and we would take it. It was terrible as well as embarrassing. Not knowing how you’re getting home from the meetings is uncomfortable and awkward. I must admit it is still like that to this day. That’s pretty much the reason I have stopped attending meetings. I don’t like it, but it is a matter that I have to leave in the hands of Jehovah. I also agree that most “worldly” folk show more compassion than people in the congregation. I have actually met more friendly and compassionate people in the past 4 years on the streets and at my job than anyone I have ever attended meetings and conventions with. I honestly don’t know why it is this way, Anonymous, but it is a harsh reality that we have to deal with. I personally don’t like it myself, but what can you do? God may very well not be with your former brothers. Just because a person claims to be Christian or saved or attend church or meetings doesn’t mean that Jehovah is with them. He has to be in your heart as well. I’m sorry that they have hurt you and it is a shame that the Witnesses that lived in your building didn’t try to visit you or provide a kind word of encouragement. I hate that for you. Just like you told me, though, I don’t think you should just up and move because of that (unless you’re moving for other reasons too). Any and every congregation you attend is going to have people like that and it is something you’re never going to escape. I do hope you reconsider. As someone once told me, be strong. Believe in yourself. Jehovah would want that. It will take some time but you will be fine. If it’s not too much to ask, I would like to continue a personal rapport with you. If you’re not up to it, I completely understand. My email is infamiss02@yahoo.com. This is one of my email accounts that I check every so often, but not a lot. If you want, you can leave me some kind of message in my inbox. If not that’s cool too. I have so much more I want to tell you because I feel your situation. I don’t want to overwhelm you with an incredibly long message on this forum.

    PS I definitely agree with you Bob. I will leave a message to your post soon.

  • Bob

    “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3: 19-20)
    Jehovah knew from the founding of the world that his son Adam would not resist temptation and would fall. Before He created the universe He knew that His only begotten Son, Jesus, would have to become man and die for humanity. Yet He went ahead with His plan.
    Do we dare think that God does not know what is happening and will happen in our lives? Everything that we experience now, He knew that we would be experiencing it from when we were born. John reminds us that when the regrets in our lives continue to torment us, God sees more clearly than we do. He sees everything. He sees the wrong and the regrets that we have acknowledged. He and His son the Christ have paid a price to release us from that guilt. (John 3:16) He knows the good work He has started in us and knows that what He has begun He will finish. (Phil 1:6)
    God also sees what we don’t, and that all our trials and difficulties we face in this world prepare us to do His will. Each of our experiences makes us uniquely qualified to help others, not only in this world but also in the next.
    One other thing He knows which we may not have considered is how our condemnation of ourselves affects the people around us. We first need to love ourselves in order to love others. Sometimes we expect too much of ourselves but God reassures us in Psalm 103,
    “9 He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
    10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
    11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
    12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
    13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
    14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
    15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
    16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
    17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children— “ (cross-reference Mt 7: 9-12)
    “Every day of self-absorbed self-condemnation is a day spent robbing ourselves of the joy of a grateful heart. Every hour of beating ourselves up is an hour spent robbing others of the good that God wants to do for them through us. By contrast, every day lived in the freedom of forgiveness is a day spent praising God. Every hour lived in gratitude for forgiveness is a day spent loving others on God’s behalf.” (Mart De Haan)
    Paul tells us, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies [and experiences] as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12: 1-2)
    May we all receive our reward as we strive to endure to the end. (Rev 2:10)

  • Shemika

    Thank you so much Jacqueline Peter K and Anonymous. I really appreciate your advice and your prayers. I pray and continue to keep God in mind (and spirit). A little time has passed since this started (its been about a month now) and although I can’t exactly say this has progressed much, I don’t feel quite as worried about this WHOLE situation. As much as I would like to leave, I kind of can’t right now. I have two younger sisters (18 and 14) and I wouldn’t feel right just leaving them behind in this situation. As far as family goes, my parents can’t even be in the same room together without arguing. They can’t agree on ANYTHING. It is sad and pathetic to me. To put it kindly, my family is dysfunctional. To even begin to explain how would be complicated and send you into a tailspin. Another reason I have chosen not to leave is because of money and I don’t exactly have a plan as to where I would like to go. I don’t just want to leave on the spur of the moment without taking some kind of time to think about it. My one wish in all of this (not so much a wish as it is a necessity) is to get my mom, dad, and grandma in one room to talk and come to some kind of agreement or compromise about this whole situation. That’s pretty much that whole in a somewhat packaged nutshell.
    Also Jacqueline, its funny you say because of my writing I sound like a caring person. Besides being caring, I am very passionate about my writing. I love to write. It is something I have been doing since I learned how to write and spell words. I wrote my first autobiography around the time I started kindergarten. Unfortunately, I haven’t written anything in quite some time. I have many ideas, but I just can’t seem to get a pen to paper like I used to. I do however have two projects in mind that I really want to get started on. One of them just so happens to be about my family (although I do have a few reservations about that at the moment).
    Last thing I want to make mention of is the Kingdom Hall. Like I stated in my first entry, I haven’t been to any meetings in years, but have attended the district conventions every summer. I feel so guilty about it that it weighs on me at times. I never thought about it as being “men’s laws” before. That does make sense to some degree. I’m aware that Jehovah is everywhere at all times and can read the heart and mind even of those who don’t believe in him and I think that is comforting. I live in Nashville Tn so there are quite a few (not many) Kingdom Halls all around Nashville. Again I appreciate your help so much. I would love to continue some kind of rapport with you (personally if that’s okay). You seem very knowledgeable and filled with Godly wisdom. Thanks again. Shemika

    • Jacqueline

      Shemika, Hello! Nice hearing from you again. Yes there is a way to talk by giving Br. Peter your email in contact, or leaving it on the ASK Jacqueline page and I will not print it. Then we can talk that way and maybe by IM and skype also.
      Living in a family where there is auguments can make you physically sick. You are so right not to leave your younger sisters, they need you so much. Jehovah is aware of your situation so you make sure you keep praying. But we can help also. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. Writing is a good way to sort things out. You can blog privately with blog free and save it. Your sisters are at the age where they will look for relief also, so they can be helped. The first step is to exchange e-mails or skype. I will be looking on the Ask Jacqueline page through out the day for you email. It is a private message unless we release it. I will erase as soon as I get it. Love ya, In Christ Jacqueline

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Shemika – I know some Bible Students in Tennessee, so just let me know if you want me to give you contact information privately. If you get a chance, I think you would enjoy our radio program, called Christian Questions. They have a potential audience of over 6 million in four different states. It is on Sunday morning from 6:00 am to 8:00 am EST on 100.3 FM, WNOX in Tennessee. You can get recordings of old topics and programs on http://www.christianquestions.net/ You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers each day.

  • Joanna

    Anonymous, I have so appreciated your attitude through this, of being helpful to others, even when you yourself are hurting. I also see that you feel the Lord cannot want you anymore. I’m glad you know what the Bible says, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of some passages you may not have thought about in a while. I do hope you will remember as you read these the love and compassion of our Father, and that He will not let go of you. You are right that you are not living up to what the Bible says we should be. Not one of us is. When we see our faults we can always come to Him for forgiveness and help to turn our lives back to Him. He doesn’t expect us to do this alone, He will help.

    When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother in one day, Jesus answered not just seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21,22) If we fallen human beings can forgive that many times even in one day, how much more will our loving Father forgive us.

    The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) shows Jehovah’s love, and even when the father saw the first signs of repentance, he ran and kissed his son, and clothed him with the best robe and celebrated. This son had wasted everything he was given, and was not worthy of being called a son, and he knew that. It was finally at that point that he was ready to accept the mercy of his father, and realized that his father never stopped loving him and wanting him to come back. What a wonderful picture of our Father, Jehovah.

    Yes, we need to recognize where we have done wrong, and we do need to turn our lives around and try to be pleasing to Jehovah. But, we can’t earn His acceptance, we can just appreciate the fact that Jesus covers our inability to do so with his willing sacrifice for us. Jehovah doesn’t accept us because we’re so great, but because we realize how much we need Him.

    We are thinking of and praying for you, and for the time when all will see Jehovah’s great love for mankind.

  • Anonymous

    Shemika…forget about the meetings. Jacqueline is right…thats mans laws. Jehovah would not want us to be treated this way. Those “men” are wrong. They judge but they don’t practice compassion. I am where you are too. Stay home, help your family get back on track and draw close to Jehovah in the way that makes you feel better not according to what others tell you.
    Thank you to everyone for the kind compassion you have shown me here. Don’t worry about me though, I’m strong and will find my way too.
    Do I think God wants me? No I still don’t believe that. I hear what you’re saying to me but I also know what the bible says and I’m not living up to it.
    Do you see Shemika…”so called” worldly people show more compassion. Why is that? I can’t believe that God is with our former “brothers”. I’m sorry if that sounds bad. They have hurt me too so what else can I think. I live in a building with 4 other Witnesses, and no one comes to visit me or ask why I’m not at the meetings for months now. The elders were even here in the building visiting one of the other sisters the other week and didn’t even come up the stairs to my apartment to say one word to me. I’m moving away from here to start my life away from this.
    Be strong Shemika, believe in yourself too, Jehovah would want that. It may take some time but you will be fine.

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