During Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to highlight how Scripture speaks into some of the most common mental health struggles. One of the hallmarks of depression is hopelessness, and Scripture is packed full of hope-giving truth. It’s the kind of hope that helps us keep following Jesus even in the midst of depression. It’s the kind of hope that can even give us joy when life feels dark.
The conversation on mental health is not about a “hope” that the world describes or that sin promises; that type of “hope” is dead. It’s symbolic, false, grounded in despair, and ultimately: empty. Biblical hope is in fact alive! It is confident and certain; it never suggests wishing or luck or “if only. . .”
What Is Biblical Hope?
Biblical hope is a true resource given by our loving God. We see evidence of that in the numerous times that he speaks of hope and its importance. In 1 Corinthians 13, for instance; faith, hope, and love are specifically mentioned by God. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, biblical hope is a foundational ingredient for enduring. In Revelation 21:1-5, the living and steadfast hope of God is expressed in the fulfillment of his enduring promise that he will make his home with us and we will have our home with him. He has never wavered from this since the opening narrative of Genesis 1:1.
Consider Romans 15. Verses 4 and 13 demonstrate that biblical hope lies in the power of the Word of God and that all Scripture is intended to express this truth of God wanting his children to have his definition of hope. Everything he has said and done is the power of our true hope. It is made tangible for us in Jesus Christ—the gospel of God—who affirms every intention of keeping his promises to us. Within God’s steadfast love and steadfast justice, there is a beautiful and powerful, true hope we can stand firm in, whether we feel it or not. His truth is true in spite of us.
Clinging to Truth
Our fallen world and flesh fight against this truth constantly. If we don’t remember it, we can easily slip into anxiety and depression and, if not stopped, into despair. It should be no surprise to see that in the garden, the serpent first attacked Adam and Eve’s remembering of God’s commands.
Depression says to us, “what’s the use?” and the temptation is to respond by giving in to apathy, guilt, and self-pity. We see our resources as having failed. We become frozen and short-sighted—having had our hopes dashed before, we dare not consider hoping again for fear of another disappointment.
The result is a loss of long-term goals like focusing on Scripture and on God—the God of all hope. Turning inward to ourselves, we are tempted to seek solutions from ourselves or the world exclusively. But God has given us the ability to combat this downward spiral, to reverse it at any point.
How to Combat the Downward Spiral of Depression
From the earliest conversations in Scripture, God has addressed the sorrow of his image-bearers with the command: “remember.” The Old Testament is full of examples:
- While the Israelites were chastened in a forty-year wandering (probably a depressing prospect for them) God gave them, among other things, the three feasts so they might remember his goodness.
- In Psalm 103, we read the command, “Forget not a single blessing.”
- Isaiah 1-5 calls us to remember our future hope.
- In Romans 8, we are to remember that God justifies. We’re also called to remember that Christ died, was raised, and now sits at the right hand of God to intercede for us.
- In Colossians chapter one, Christ presents us blameless and above reproach, if we continue in faith—stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel we have heard (and remembered!).
Why the Command to Remember Brings Hope
Through the Bible, God calls us to hear his commands and do them (this implies our remembering them too) because he wants to bless us through them.
The biblical hope our God has given us is alive, steadfast, true, powerful, and active. It does not remove circumstances but gives the believing, remembering saint firm principles to stand on. All of Scripture is intended to give us this hope in Christ.
So, we must practice this spiritual discipline of remembering; it runs counter to our hearts’ inclination to be fearful. Yet, through the Scripture, our own experience and testimony—as well as the testimony of others—we can see the markers of God’s provision and deliverance.
They are our call to remember and they serve as a powerful and faithful instrument to combat anxious and depressed thoughts.