Optimistic Depression

Mayo Clinic defines depression as a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.

While this may be true, it can be easy to assume that the reason somebody is depressed is that they are an overly pessimistic person. I don’t believe this is always the case.

As Christians, our biblical worldview tells us that we are in a world that is groaning, and full of brokenness. We believe that there will come a day of restoration, but that day has not yet come. We live with the victory of Christ, but we do not experience its full glory until the new heaven and new earth.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:22-25

Paul makes it clear that Christians can be optimistic about eternal life. But what about this life?

We have a God who loves us, and the ultimate expression of this love is sending his Son for us. Does his love mean that we receive blessing in this life? Surely - he is gracious enough to provide us with our intellects, our jobs, our families, our money, our homes, our friends and our families. And yet, as Paul says, creation still groans. Our minds are susceptible to mental illness. We lose our jobs. Family and friends can betray us. Our homes are at the mercy of macroeconomics.

If we have an overly inflated sense of optimism about this life, depression can be triggered. Why? Because we are hoping that the things of this life will satisfy us as deeply as Christ, and the gift of eternal life that he promises.

Are you depressed? Are you disillusioned? Let me ask what you are putting your hope in. Where are you looking to for your satisfaction?

The hope of eternal life does not automatically cure us of depression, nor is depression as simple as wanting things too much. But God’s offer of a real and living promise that there will come a day when we won’t feel that pain anymore enables us to find satisfaction in the Lord all the more in the meantime.

Chris Cipollone