As a Christian apologist, I’m grateful that people ask me questions. On occasion, someone will contact me to ask for advice as they face various types of suffering. Some time ago a person shared his heartfelt struggle with me by asking the following question (paraphrased):

Ken, I’m a Christian but I suffer daily from a basically debilitating depression and anxiety. I’m constantly battling doubt and occasionally thoughts of suicide. Why do I have a condition that causes me to doubt God’s existence and consider suicide?

Here was my response (paraphrased):

Greetings, my friend.

I’m so sorry you struggle with depression and anxiety. My heart goes out to you because I have family members who have similar struggles. Therefore, I know something about what you are experiencing.

Let me offer you three points that I hope will be helpful to you.

First, while I am not a mental health professional, I do want to strongly encourage you to seek professional medical and psychological help if you haven’t already—especially since you have suicidal thoughts. In fact, someone at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is available to chat right now (24/7).

Antidepressant medication and psychotherapy can help ease the inner pain and help remove the suicidal ideation. Thus depression and anxiety can be treated and there is genuine hope for you to return to a more stable place of mental health.

Second, there are many Christian mental health professionals who share your worldview and can provide guidance to help both body and soul. You have options for managing and resolving your chronic challenges.

Third, you are not alone in your struggles. Many people battle depression and anxiety. And that includes Christians and non-Christians.

The short answer to your bigger question is that we suffer psychologically and existentially because we live in a fallen world. Original sin has cut us off from God and has led to alienation with others and deep angst within ourselves. Our spiritual condition affects our physical and psychological states, and that is true even of those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. So experiencing depression and anxiety can indeed contribute to doubt and worry about our spiritual condition.

Our Hope in Christ
Yet the ultimate cure for our fallen state is found in the gracious gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–10). Along with seeking professional psychological help, I encourage you to pray and meditate on Jesus’s words—especially in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

The triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) created you and knows everything about you. He loves you and understands your situation.

Two voices, one from the present and one from the past, may encourage you. Anglican theologian Stephen Neill said the central emphasis of Jesus’s teaching is: “God can be depended upon in every circumstance of life.”1 Therefore you can rely on the Lord to help you with your suffering.

Also, consider reading St. Augustine’s Confessions as a source of spiritual reflection and support. Augustine writes about his own difficulties in life and how God’s grace met him in his intense existential challenges.

May our Lord grant you in body and soul what St. Augustine called rest and peace.

Takeaway
If you also battle mental health issues then I hope you will consider the points above. Or if you know a person who does, please take the time to offer them encouragement and direction. When you undergo suffering, remember the God of historic Christianity is a “God with wounds,” for Jesus Christ as the God-man has suffered with us in life and for us on the cross.

Reflections: Your Turn
How have you worked through times of anxiety, doubt, and depression? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment.

Resources

  • For twelve points and practices for personal spiritual growth and renewal and examples of how to extend hope for the hurting, see Kenneth Richard Samples, Christianity Cross-Examined (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2021), 217, 236.
  • Although there are many translations of Confessions available, I recommend these: Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961); The Confessions: Saint Augustine of Hippo, ed. David Vincent Meconi, trans. Maria Boulding (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2012); Confessions, 2nd ed., ed. Michael P. Foley, trans. F. J. Sheed (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2006).

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes

  1. Stephen Neill, The Supremacy of Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1983), 63.

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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