Before COVID, the World Health Organization announced that depression was the most widespread illness in the world. Even with COVID, that is probably still true. The Yale College Council has found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time of enrollment. In his book Straw Dogs, Atheist John Gray wrote, “Drug use is a tacit admission of a forbidden truth in Western Culture. What is that truth? It is that for most people happiness is beyond reach.”
The information above came from the chapter “Our Never-Ending Pursuit of Happiness” in Richard E. Simmon’s book Reflections on the Existence of God. (You can read our review of that book HERE.) Simmons also quoted from a book by Dr. Armand Nicholi of Harvard Medical School titled The Question of God. Dr. Nicholi says that one of the major causes of depression is a person’s worldview. We must point out that there are different kinds of depression, and medical causes of depression must be treated medically. However, that is not the point Nicholi was making.
An evidence for the validity of Christianity is that the teachings of Jesus Christ give a worldview that leads to fulfillment and happiness. If you have bought into a worldview that says there is no God, then finding happiness is only available to those who are “the fittest.” In that case, happiness is beyond reach because no matter who we are, we will eventually not be the fittest. Older adults struggle with the fact that they can no longer do what they did 50 years ago. The whole euthanasia issue is rooted in this realization.
For Christians, there is joy in seeing fruit in living the life Christ has called us to live. We find fulfillment in being able to give time, support, and encouragement to others. Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In other words, there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. We don’t have to be rich to give time, care, and love to others. Joy comes from having a worldview that says whatever happens in this life, it is the worst I will ever have to endure. Christ assures us of hope for something much better.
If you haven’t gotten involved in a service organization, you are missing something that combats depression. Join a local effort to help those in need and enjoy the company of people who are joyously serving others. Churches operate food banks and homes for the homeless. Dozens of organizations such as the Carter Center, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, Kids Wish, Americans Helping Americans, and Heifer International enable people to get involved in meeting the needs of others. Every time I have been involved in local or national programs like those, I have received more than I gave. It is hard to be depressed when you are a part of something bigger than yourself, reflecting the Christian worldview.
For most of us, we can do something about our depression. On the other hand, those who reject God and the Christian worldview will find the alternative only leads to frustration and the realization that happiness is beyond reach. If you are clinically depressed, please seek medical help. However, if you are just “down,” get up and get involved in some of the things Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:34-40. Happiness is not beyond reach.
— John N. Clayton © 2021