Notes to Pilgrims #8
And the causes for this are legion. People get depressed for all sorts of different reasons ranging from the demise of a pet goldfish or the casting of an undesirable actor as a revered superhero in an upcoming movie to the global tragedy of hunger and poverty or the unexpected death of a loved one to cancer. Basically depression—whether clinical or otherwise—is that mortal pathos that sucks the life out of the experiencer, leaving him or her in a sense of melancholy and perceived loss. Like everybody else living in this sin-felled world, Christians can get depressed too. But unlike everyone else, real Christians have no right to despair.
You see grief and depression are uncomfortable realities of the fallen world. Not being a respecter of persons, grief and its resultant depression pounce on both Christians and non-Christians alike. Often it is an unwanted yet necessary process in coping with tragedy, injustice, or loss. In such cases, depression is temporary and is eventually overcome by the resumption of life and living. Nevertheless depression has a lethal kin that’s never overcome—despair. When depression morphs into despair, even the very will to live is silenced. Despairing people have no hopes, no aspirations, no sun-hiding-behind-the-rainclouds epiphanies. Only a paralyzing helplessness. But such is never the experience of the Christian.
Real Christians don’t despair. They certainly suffer a lot (cf. Matthew 16:24-26—Jesus requires suffering! Philippians 1:29—suffering’s a gift!) and pain is a mainstay in their life journey (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28—personal experience of the Apostle Paul). Yet though they might grieve or be depressed, Christians are never despairing. And the reason for this is because there is in them an unconquerable Hope. A Hope that not only promises to overwhelmingly conquer all present and future adversities but a sure Hope that has once and for all subdued their greatest adversary at the Cross. Christians are not exempt from the deluge of bad news in this bad news world. But because of the surpassing Good News of the gospel, the Christian has an unshakable confidence that better things are ahead for those who are in Christ.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-12)
Christians do not despair because they possess this great treasure (i.e. “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” AKA the Gospel) in them that none can take away.
—Pastor James (firstname.lastname@example.org)