home > Pastor’s Desk > 2023 > August 11th > Things Christians Can’t Talk About, Part 2 – Depression

All of us feel sad at some point – even people who are usually happy most of the time will have moments of sadness. Usually for most people there will be some understandable cause of it. This might include the loss of a loved one, a certain disappointment, an accident, or sympathy for friend or family member’s struggles. This kind of sadness is temporary. Yet there is a kind of sadness that lingers for weeks or months which leaves a person physically drained, perhaps teary, thinking dark thoughts, feeling desperately lonely and debilitated. This is usually when clinicians consider someone is experiencing ‘depression’ and it is one of those things that Christians find difficult to admit to or even talk about. Perhaps this is because Christians are supposed to be filled with the joy of the Lord, and able to cast all their anxieties onto the Lord, and therefore, presumably, be immune from such depression. But two facts make this untrue. Firstly, even many of the heroes in the Bible seem to have experienced some form of depression at least for a moment; and secondly, we each probably know of a godly follower of Christ who has done everything right yet still experiences recurring seasons of depression. I consider this topic to be one of the main things that Christians can’t talk about and probably should, and to this end I have some wisdom to offer in how we should go about it.

¶ Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation  and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember You
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
¶ Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:5-6, 11


Depression is not a ‘one size fits all’. It effects people differently. Some experience a lack of appetite while others experience an abnormal increase in appetite. Some experience continual suicidal thoughts, while many do not. Some are easily brought to tears, while others experience repeated bouts of anger. Some experience a heightened sense of anxiety while others are able to remain functional in their jobs and responsibilities.

Depression often universally results in prolonged negative, dark, unhealthy thoughts; and, social withdrawal. It frequently leaves a person feeling lonely (or alone), as if no-one cares, and a loss of motivation. However, depression can be treated so that its symptoms are dramatically lessened and even eradicated either through: medication, counselling, prayer, a change of diet, and regular physical exercise, – or a combination of these. I list several therapeutic remedies other than pharmaceuticals because, while I have good reason to believe that there is some benefit that can be attained from prescribed anti-depressant medication (largely due to my own interactions with those who have greatly benefited from taking it, and also my interactions with the many doctors who have reported to me the health benefits from their patients who have also taken such medication). But I suspect that many people now look exclusively to pharmaceuticals to solve their health problems. I must admit, over the past few years my cynicism about multi-national pharmaceutical companies’ motives for wanting people to think this way has only magnified. This is why I appreciate those medical doctors who take a holistic approach to helping their patients overcome their depression rather than just prescribing a life-long course of antidepressant pharmaceuticals.



One of the most startling examples of a man of God who had been used mightily by God, yet experienced a season of depression was the prophet Elijah. He lived in Northern Israel after the civil war which saw the ten tribes of Israel to the north of Jerusalem separate from the two southern tribes appoint their own king and establish their own Kingdom (to be known as ‘Ephraim’ or ‘Israel’) distinct from the Kingdom in the line of David and Solomon in the South (which became known as ‘Judah’). In First Kings 18 Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Ba’al to a duel to see who was the true GOD. The context involved offering a slain bullock on an altar of wood and to see which god or GOD would respond with fire to accept the burnt offering. The 450 prophets of Ba’al, despite their incantations, their enchantments, their spells (1Kings 18:26), and then finally the shedding of their own blood through cutting and lancing (1Kings 18:28), did not answer them or consume the sacrificial offering with fire. Elijah then offered them some unhelpful advice – 

And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying,
“Cry aloud, for he is a god.
Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself,
or he is on a journey,
or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
First Kings 18:27

 After these false prophets had finished and conceded that they (and their god, Ba’al) had failed, Elijah then asked for the sacrificed bullock and the altar of wood to be saturated in water twice over. Then Elijah cried out a short but profound prayer –

¶ And at the time of the offering of the oblation,
Elijah the prophet came near and said,
“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant,
and that I have done all these things at your word.
Answer me, O LORD, answer me,
that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God,
and that you have turned their hearts back.”
First Kings 18:36-37

What happened next would have impressed Steven Spielberg (1Kings 18:38)!

I suspect that there would have been a large component of dehydration, malnutrition, and exhaustion, in what happened next to Elijah. He heard that the wicked queen Jezebel who worshiped Ba’al had ordered that Elijah be executed (1Kings 19:1-2). In fear for his life, Elijah fled to the Southern Kingdom to hide from Jezebel’s assassins (1 Kings 19:3). In the pit of despondency Elijah prayed that he might die (1Kings 19:4). And what we see next is that GOD began to address the cause of Elijah’s depression (not just his symptoms).

  1. God gave Elijah sleep (1 Kings 19:5a).
  2. God gave Elijah company (an angel, 1 Kings 19:5b).
  3. God gave Elijah food and water (via the angel, 1 Kings 19:6).
  4. God reestablished Elijah’s mission and gave him something constructive to do which involved him interacting with people who are realising that his negative assessment of the situation was wrong (1 Kings 19:7, 15-18).  

Elijah is one example of many others recorded in the pages of Scripture who also experienced depression and who experienced almost exactly the same response from God (examples include Jeremiah, and Paul the Apostle).



"Rubin’s Picture" - What do you see? Two things? Or the one thing that is actually there but is easily missed?

“Rubin’s Picture” – What do you see? Two people? Or the one thing that is actually there but is easily missed?

I am not being naively simplistic about the remedy for depression. (Being simplistic with someone who is battling each of these topics that Christians can’t talk about is a large contributor to why some Christians are reluctant to talk about these issues!) But I see something in the opening chapters of Genesis that I find extremely helpful in managing moods and mental health. Sometimes you have to look a little closer at something to realise what you’re actually looking at!

¶ And they heard the sound of the LORD God
walking in the garden in the cool of the day,
and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God
among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

Firstly, From this verse in the opening chapters of the Bible we see that God had created a paradisiacal environment for mankind to enjoy. (Mankind was not created to live apart from nature (gardens and wildlife). If all you ever see throughout your day is a screen, concrete and steel, your soul is being malnourished which then depletes our mental health!)

Sunrise over Mount Arthur in the background from Legana with apple orchards in the mid-ground, and native trees in the foreground

Mount Arthur in the background from Legana with apple orchards in the mid-ground, and native trees in the foreground

Secondly, mankind’s world was one in which they enjoyed a regular interaction with God. (Mankind was not created or designed to live without a vital communion with our Maker. Our prayerful interaction with God is nourishing for our soul.)

Thirdly, it appears that Man and GOD regularly walked together as they spoke with each other. There was a physical manifestation of God which enabled the first man and woman to “hear the sound of the LORD walking in the garden”. The simple act of walking and talking with God as you do is a spiritually replenishing activity. (Mankind was created to take a long daily stroll with God). Even several generations after Adam this was something that Enoch practised (Gen 5:22, 24) and benefited greatly from doing it.

Fourthly, Mankind were given an extensive fruit tree garden from which they could enjoy fresh, unprocessed whole foods. (Mankind was created and designed to eat a diet consisting largely unprocessed whole-foods. Our high-sugar, high complex-saturated fat, high processed diets have a negative impact not just on our physical health, but also on our mental and emotional health.)

Fifthly, Mankind was meant to live with a clear conscience by obedience to God and His Word. (Mankind was created monarchial, that is, royal. We were created in the Sovereign King of the Universe’s image to co-rule this world as His vice-regents. The serpent and its manipulating master, the Evil One, had nothing to offer our original parents except lies. Yet they willingly chose to reject the Truth and accept an outlandish lie. Today, the Evil One and his minions continue to dupe God’s Image bearers with malicious lies. Accepting these lies can only lead to poor mental health. This is why being grounded daily in the truth found in God’s Word is therapeutic for our souls and nourishing for our mental health.)



As with each of these topics, I want to encourage you to talk about these things — but I especially want to encourage you (and hopefully model) how to listen to those who do open up about their struggles. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give someone in those moments is a listening ear and the knowledge that someone cares enough to take the time to seek to understand what they are going through. And, as I have already stated here, and will repeat in Part 3, we should not offer judgment or simplistic answers. It’s my conviction that there are many lonely people in our church and especially outside of our church who long for someone who might offer them these two gifts of a listening ear, and understanding. I hope you can join me in being one of these gift givers.

Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. LYDIA

    It is early in the morning and I hear the postman knocking at the gate…oops things have changed. Andrew I couldn’t help but smile when you wrote: (Mankind was not created to live apart from nature (gardens and wildlife). If all you ever see throughout your day is a screen, concrete and steel, your soul is being malnourished which then depletes our mental health!) Good comment.
    Working in the garden and talking to the creatures and working at the pc desk playing around with photos of those gardens and creatures on God’s green earth, and then editing them for another book, if heaven is perfection then this is pretty close to it. And then while letting the creative juices flow there are the sermons to be listened to in the background or something related to them. In other words…BALANCE. Balance in all things right across the board is a very healthy way of living. And let’s not forget the interaction with all those who have been placed on our pathway of life:), blessings to numerous to mention whether this is where we work or where we punch the keys or talk to the wildlife or domesticated chooks.
    Thank you for your encouragement.

  2. Ron Darby

    Really enjoyed that Andrew. We’re living in a great time in history but also with great things diminishing our joy, influence & effectiveness. Much by our own hands. You’re so right, we need to be better listeners to understand.

  3. Chris

    As someone affected by chronic depression this is one of the most considered, constructive and compassionate articles I’ve read that has been written from a Christian perspective. Well done Pr Andrew, thank you.


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For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.


The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better. 


Today, “Jesus Christ is Lord” sounds like a bumper sticker or part of an ancient church liturgy but when Christianity was founded if someone uttered these words it could literally mean death! ’o christos ’o kurios “Christ is Lord” was a risky thing to declare when the only safe thing to declare was ’o kaiser ’o kurios “Caesar is Lord”! Yet it was upon these words that the earliest confession of the Church was founded. For the early Christians, this was not a glib, throw-away line uttered during a church service or something stuck on the backside of your donkey (or chariot if you were wealthy).  


I really dislike the expression ‘moving forward’. So many people say, ‘moving forward’ from the meeting, the experience, the…. whatever! Has anyone stopped to think that time continues. We can’t go back. Even if we are reflecting, or for that matter mulling, we are in the continuum of time, and unless we have a mythical time machine, we just can’t go backwards in time. Our only option is to ‘move forward’.


I have long said that my primary role as a shepherd-pastor is to help people to die well. To do this, as I have often said, requires that we learn how to live life well. Of all the normally uncomfortable subjects that Christians find it difficult to talk about, death should not be one of them. But it is. This is because, of all the world religions, only Christianity has a positive view of death. After all, we have a divine Saviour who confronted and conquered death. As a result the original apostles mocked death.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
¶ The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.”
(First Corinthians 15:55-56)
These apostles refused to be intimidated by death which was ultimately evidenced by their martyrdoms. The apostle Paul could look forward to his death with the obvious lament that he would no longer be available to help those he had led to the Lord (Phil. 1:23-25). But he could face his impending death with the assurance that it would mean that he would immediately be in the presence of his Lord — and so should we! And like Paul, we too should be be able to talk about death in a very different way to those who do not know what we know.


A suburban home in Australia is shrinking in land size even though the average house size is headed in the opposite direction. What hasn’t changed is fencing around the block of land in order to separate it from a neighbour’s property. Broken fences, overgrown hedges and pets jumping fences are a known source of conflicts. We value our privacy. Those fences are boundaries. To go over them without permission will be trespassing. Renting, owning or owned outright – our home is our safe haven. When we chat with neighbours across the fence, there is a sense of security that comes with standing on our own patch of land. A little piece of Australia over which we have custody, albeit temporal.


Each of these uncomfortable topics in this brief series of articles are uncomfortable because there they carry a sense of embarrassment or even shame attached to them. But this particular topic also carries a good deal of pain associated with it – in addition to any feelings of embarrassment or shame. This pain may involve a sense of failure, betrayal, rejection, and humiliation. Divorce rarely effects just the two people involved in ending a marriage. Divorce can scar people like little else can. It can scar socially, financially, emotionally, relationally, and even a person’s physical health – and sometimes do so permanently.


There are some things that Christians can’t and don’t talk about – but probably should. So, I would like to pastorally share some thoughts about this taboo topic of doubt in what will be part 1 in this short series of pastor’s desk articles of four taboo topics that Christians can’t talk about.


Resilience was one of the predominant character traits of the early Christians. They called it being steadfast. For these early Christians being ‘resilient’ meant being able to keep going despite set backs, discouragements, betrayals, unforeseen circumstances, lack of energy, motivation, and resources. Like a weary hiker looking down a long road that leads to the mountain range they must walk over, being resilient in life means putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again, and again, and again, and so on. God knows that today, in what many are describing as “Post-Christendom” (and the resilient among us prefer to think of as Pre-Christendom) to be resilient is to live with a purpose, to stay focused, to live for others, and to strive toward a good, honourable, goal. With so many reasons to lose sight of the true purpose of life the tendency is to be tricked into believing that life right now is too hard. But the truth be told – people need to know how to be more resilient. Leaders especially need to be resilient right now. Churches assuredly need to be resilient at this time. With the recent interference into churches by government through the measures they said was “to keep people safe” — it has actually depleted people’s ability and willingness to be resilient! Here’s what leaders, people, and churches can do about it.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2023 > July 21st > COME ON IN AND JOIN USSome people think of ‘church’ as a place of religious rituals. To them it a place where sermons are preached, hymns are sung, weddings are conducted, funerals formalised, and babies are...