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Spiritual Depression: What is It and What Causes It?

Spiritual depression is real! When we discuss the phenomenon of spiritual depression, it is distinct from that of mental depression, which affects more than 40 million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

What is ‘spiritual’ depression? In 1965, Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones , a Protestant Welsh minister, wrote a book entitled Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cure. Dr. Jones, using Psalm 42:5 as his text, did not really give a hard definition of the malady but characterizes it as the way the psalmist deals with a major life event (which often forms the basis of depression), or “the way in which he faces the situation, and the way in which he deals with himself.”

Spiritual depression is generally the loss of vitality and joy.

This is the linchpin of the malady: how we as believers deal with major life episodes. Should this be distinct from those of non-believers? Does the Christian have resources at his or her disposal that strengthen us in crisis which the non-believer does not have? The Bible clearly answers that in the affirmative!

Or, as Dr. Jones opines, “In a sense a depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms, and he is a very poor recommendation for the gospel.”

What are the causes for spiritual depression? I will list three causes summarily:

Spiritual depression unfolds within a context of one’s relationship with God; specifically how one sees God and the ways in which we have been taught God sees us. If this context is made up of “bad theology” and “bad thinking”, it opens up a litany of opportunities for the enemy to expose our weaknesses.

This leads to the first cause of spiritual depression: spiritual warfare. John 10:10 speaks on how the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. But sometimes the favorite tactic of the enemy is to undermine what we believe by making us question what it is we really believe.

Another cause for spiritual depression (and an outgrowth of cause one) is the company we keep. Take a look at your five closest friends. What do they believe about you and about your role as a believer? What do they talk about the most? Ideas or other people? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.”

Finally, having an unclear vision also lends to spiritual depression. This is also an outgrowth of cause one, and which is made worse by cause two, because when it’s said and done, having the wrong people in our ears (and subsequently in our spirit) results in an unclear and hazy spiritual outlook. Although we have assurance of faith, we lack conviction (Hebrews 12:1)

Next: I will post a blog on the differences between mental and spiritual depression.

Visit my Facebook page The Believer’s Coach to learn more about the causes for spiritual depression and download my book Surge into the New!

Stay in confidence. Step up to the challenge.

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