“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG).
Here’s a Bible trivia quiz: Can you name any of three men who became so depressed that each of them asked God to take his life?
Answer: Moses, Elijah, and Jonah.
Each of them got depressed, but for different reasons; depression is always a symptom of a deeper problem.
Like a warning light on your car, depression is meant to get your attention; it shouts something is wrong! The real problem is not how you feel, but the cause of those feelings. Here are three of the most common causes of depression.
1. Fatigue (Moses’ problem): When you try to maintain a hectic pace week after week in spite of physical and emotional exhaustion, you set yourself up for depression. Or, if you try to play God, attempting to control everything and everyone around you, depression will eventually catch up with you. In Moses’ case, the solution was to learn to delegate (Numbers 11:10–17).
2. Fear (Elijah’s problem): Whenever you swallow your anxieties, your body keeps score. Instead of focusing on your depression, ask, “What is it that I’m afraid of? What’s got me worried?” Resolve the worry and your blues will vanish, if that’s the cause. In Elijah’s situation, the antidote was to trust God to handle things out of his control (1 Kings 19:1–18).
3. Frustration (Jonah’s problem): When you don’t see a purpose behind the events of your life, when it all seems so arbitrary or hopeless or unfair, then depression strikes.
Life without meaning and significance is depressing. That’s why God’s solution to Jonah’s depression was to help him see the bigger picture. Perspective is a powerful cure. When Jonah finally understood God’s purpose for his life, his depression faded.
Does life sometimes seem like an endless rat race to you? Ask God to open your eyes and help you see his purpose for your life. God, who made you, has this to say about you: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11 TEV).