I am starting to feel let down by God because He is not taking my depression away. Can you help?
There are a lot of things God could do for your depression, such as wave His hand and just “take it away.” But He typically does not do it that way for a very specific reason. Usually when we are depressed, it is for a real issue that needs to be worked out in our lives. If God were to take away the depression (which is the symptom), the things about us that need to change would go unheeded. We would be the same, but our depression, the signal that tells us we need to grow in some area, would be gone. And we would have no reason to grow.
This is why James says for us to “consider it all joy when we encounter various trials,” because the trials, accompanied with the wisdom of knowing what to change, have the effect of our being made mature. (James 1:1-5) In other words, when we go through pain, and we learn what we need to learn from the process, we are made more complete. But, if the trial were just “taken away” from us, we would not be any more mature even though we were no longer in pain.
For example, if your depression were coming from a sense of isolation or loneliness, God could “take away” the depression, but you would still be cut off from deep relationships with other people. God wants you to live in deep relationships. So to be isolated and “un-depressed” would thwart His very design for how life is supposed to work. Isolation should leave us depressed, and the depression should be a signal something is wrong.
There are other causes for depression as well, such as feelings of powerlessness or inferiority, unresolved pain and hurt, not developing talents, and distorted thinking…to name just a few. God wants you to change these kinds of things. This is what redemption is all about, “growing up into Him,” and becoming mature. (Ephesians 4:15) And as James says, He will give you the wisdom to know what you have to learn in this trial. (James 1:5)
It may also be you have been very hurt by someone. If so, He wants you to face that hurt. He wants people who have been hurt to get the love they need. Through the healing touch of His people, they can grow in love. If He just “cured” your depression, the injustice that may have come your way in life would have never been touched and made right by love.
In addition, sometimes depression can be a sign that there is a physical problem. Everything from a simple chemical imbalance to significant illness can cause depression and you should see a doctor to make sure nothing is wrong. A physician should check depression that persists.
I long for your depression to go away too. But I also long for you to have a better life. That can only come through growth and finding what issues you have to deal with and change. This can be a grueling task. Remember it is a path God wants for us and it has great reward. He wants us to work on it, for He is working too, the team effort will bring great reward.
As Paul says, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12,13) Use this struggle to find the changes you need to make, and allow God to do His work in you of healing and growth. Find the help you need from others, such as a counselor or a support group, and ask for the wisdom to make the changes you need to make. Then go for it. Remember, you are not alone in your struggle; God and the heavenly witnesses are all pulling for you. (Hebrews 12:1)
By Dr. Henry Cloud