Does God Still Love Me when I’m Depressed?
Why does God hate me?
I'm guessing you didn't come to a site for faithful Christian women and expect to read an opening sentence with the words "God" and "hate" together. But trust me here and keep reading; we will get to the good part. While on a walk the other day, I had my earbuds in listening to various musical genres. A song centered on addiction came on, and the question above was part of the chorus. I know the words seem harsh, but it wasn't long ago I posed the same question.
Maybe my words were a bit watered down compared to the song's lyrics, but they expressed the same sentiment. In the confinement of depression, I felt forgotten, left behind, and unloved amongst a million other confusing emotions, all fighting for my attention. Sometimes, depression felt like a punishment, and I couldn't pinpoint what I did to deserve the conviction and the accompanying sentence. And in the solitude, I would wonder, does God still love me?
Unfortunately, I know I'm not alone in these defeating feelings, so I write about the time I was enrolled in an experiential learning course on all things mental duress. Gratefully, I had the greatest teacher ever known to get me from failing to freedom, and I want to share that hope with you.
The Bible is Not Shy on the Hard Stuff
Does God still love you when you are depressed? That's a resounding yes! You don't have to dig far into the Bible to see the evidence of the many ways He loves us unconditionally. The Word demonstrates the immeasurable length of God's love for you. God also shows his love for us by including the hard stories. We wouldn't be able to understand the countless ways He loves us if we couldn't relate to the people of the Bible and the trials they faced. After all, the crux of our redemption resulted from the Father making the most difficult decision imaginable.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Some of the bravest heroes of the Bible suffered through lengthy stretches of depression. Look at King David, who beautifully orchestrates deep sorrow and joy into the poetic prose of Psalms. We witness David at the end of the rope in Psalm 6:5, "I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears." Despite the shawl of sorrow David wears on his shoulders, he is highly favored, and God calls him "a man after his own heart" in 1 Samuel 13:14.
Another example of a man deeply loved by God is Job. His life is a prime example that an elated or joyous mood is not an indicator of faith. "Job was a man who was blameless and upright, feared God, and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1). He suffered at the hands of Satan as God allowed Job to be tested. He lost his children, property, livelihood, and then health. His friends blamed him for his plight, and his wife told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). Job's relentless circumstances threw him into the depths of depression (and rightly so.)
Job wasn't shy with his words of lamentation -- his grief and mourning burns as bright as the North Star as his shattered heart bleeds throughout the pages of forty-two chapters. Job cursed the day he was born (Job 3:1-26) but never turned his back on God, knowing God was always and is still in control (Job 2:9-10). God restored Job's fortunes two-fold and blessed the latter part of his life more than the beginning (Job 42:10-12).
I once heard a sermon on the book of Job that said lamentation is a sign of significant faith. After all, who are you lamenting to? The thing about passionately expressing your grievances in the form of unfiltered anger, pain, and confusion to the Lord is proof that we know He exists and that He cares about our sorrows even when we don't understand His plan. We long to feel seen and heard by the Almighty, especially in our darkest days, and we should use the solitude of the dark to cry out for Him. The stillness of the dark makes it a perfect place to hear the Lord.
Drowning in Circumstances
Like Job and King David, we often find ourselves drowning in circumstances beyond our control. You know the kind of situations that have you drenching your pillow with tears all night or ruminating on the purpose of your very existence. Although there is a significant gap in time and a vast difference in scenery and customs, the emotions of the Biblical characters stand relatable throughout the ages. Whether it is undesirable circumstances, unfortunate genetics, or a combination of the two at the root of your unrelenting depression -- this does not influence the magnitude of God's love for you. You do not need to pick petals off of a daisy to determine whether He loves you or not based on your changing mood. Our God does not change, nor does the way He loves you (Hebrews 13:8).
I love how Autumn Miles reiterates the fact that we don't earn God's love in her straightforward way, "We live as if we are unlovable. But what you don't understand is that you will never be loved more than you are loved right now. You cannot do more to be more loved. There is nothing you can do more to be loved more by a God who is Love. You cannot earn it. You cannot lose it. You never needed to earn it because you've always had it. You cannot shake God's love for you ever. Why? Because God is love, the word love is interchangeable with God. Love is God. God is love."
The very character or essence of God is rooted in love. We receive the highest form of love, agape, freely from the Father. As defined by Wikipedia, agape love is "the love of God for man and man for God. It embraces a deep and profound sacrificial love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance." Read that last part again, "regardless of circumstance." Friend, nothing you can experience or do can separate you from God's love. And we need His love to make us complete and Christ's strength to suffice for our weaknesses. We must rely on God's love as we read in 1 John 4:15-16.
"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."
Nothing Can Separate Us
Paul takes us on a tour of God's everlasting love in Romans 8:31-39, and we should take note of the overarching theme that nothing can separate us from God's eternal and unconditional love as long as we are reconciled to Christ.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39).
If you didn't know by now, you are a warrior and conqueror because of His love for you. Your deepest sufferings do not indicate a departure from God's love. He loves you the same and always will (even when you are depressed.)
Originally published on ibelieve.com