Jun P. Espina         10 min read
Written on October 9, 2022
We can Overcome Depression by Understanding the Causes of Unhappiness
We need to understand the causes of unhappiness first, before we can fully throw it out of our lives. A casual googling of this subject offers us many reasons that are more mental and physical. One article states inactivity, lack of sleep, isolation, dissatisfaction, etc. as major causes of unhappiness. The problem with these views is that they do not solve unhappiness. A jobless person, for example, cannot solve his inclination towards being unhappy after finding a job. Our natural insatiability is one huge cause of unhappiness that logic, high-class education, or even having tons of money and a beautiful wife, cannot overcome.
- We can Overcome Depression by Understanding the Causes of Unhappiness
- 1. Our Unhappiness is Caused by Our Natural Insatiability
- 2. Unhappiness Always Comes to a Person Lacking a Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
- 3. Unhappiness Swells From Our Fear of the Unknown
- 4. Insecurity in Life Causes Unhappiness
- 5. A Sense of Guilt Produces Unhappiness in the Soul
- 6. Unhappiness Happens When You Don’t Have a Sacred Authority to Depend On
- 7. Sin Shoves Unhappiness in Life
- 8. Hopelessness Breeds Unhappiness
- 9. An Unforgiving Heart Always Harbors Unhappiness
- To Wrap Up: We Can Overcome Our Unhappiness
1. Our Unhappiness is Caused by Our Natural Insatiability
They say you need sociability—for example, a network of online friends—if you are in isolation. But this won’t cure unhappiness. Having a pet dog or cat cannot solve your low spirits either. You may have a few flashes of joyful interaction with your pet dog, but it won’t cure your bent toward melancholy. It is our natural insatiability that is preventing us from living a joyful life.
What is Natural Insatiability?
But you may ask, “What is natural insatiability?” A good example of natural insatiability is the tale of the little boy who violently took another boy’s mud-car toy despite having a battery-operated toy helicopter. Yes, our locust-like traits are one cause of our unhappiness. God is aware of this weakness, so He included it as the tenth commandment in the Ten Commandments. He said:
Sin encoded covetousness into our DNA, and it is where we get our piggish nature. Yes, we get it from our natural inclination to sin and do what is unrighteous.
If we have a job, we want a promotion or transfer from one job to another because of our sense of insatiability.
Marital cheating is one indicator of unhappiness for the same reason—that is, discontent with what one already has.
2. Unhappiness Always Comes to a Person Lacking a Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
Happiness is a state of well-being, even if you do not have piles of money or countless friends on Facebook. A happy person has a sense of meaning and deep contentment. Have you heard about a moneyless but happy man who became less peaceful after he inherited enormous wealth? In most cases, those with excessive wealth cannot experience genuine peace. Why? Because happiness lives in your heart, not in your hands or feet. All you see, hold, or own cannot satisfy your deep sense of emptiness, since happiness just exists and grows inside you.
What is a sense of meaning?
You must have a sense of meaning by answering the undying questions of life positively, which are: (a) Who am I? (b) Where did I come from? (c) Why am I here? (d) Where am I going?
The answers to the above deep questions are not “activity,” “socialization,” “change of environment,” “having a girlfriend,” “accumulation of wealth,” “fame,” or “having a sense of satisfaction.”
Psychology and psychiatry are sciences that try to provide a cure for unhappiness and depression, but they fail after decades of study. And the reason is that science does not have a clue about the emptiness of the heart and a lack of meaning and purpose in life.
The Answer to the Hugely Profound Questions of Life
The answer to the time-honored questions of life is God, and Table 1 shows how sufficient God is when He intervenes in all types of human unhappiness and depression.
Table 1. Life’s Most Profound Questions:
|Who am I?||I am created by GOD|
|Where did I come from?||I came from GOD|
|Why am I here?||I am here to serve and worship GOD|
|Where am I going?||I am going to GOD|
The God-answer to all sorts of human problems just resonates better than every twist and turn of human wisdom. Our problem is a sense of meaning, but when God is called into the equation, we find logical and convincing proof that God is the Answer to everything we ask for. That is the meaning when Christ said:
3. Unhappiness Swells From Our Fear of the Unknown
When we are honest with our “inner man” (our conscience), we know we have a natural fear of what is unknown, like the darkness during the night or the certainty of our coming death. This feeling—whether subdued by modern philosophic, humanistic, or atheistic rationalization—remains one cause of unhappiness in this world.
An old man, for example, like a cancer patient, is always keen on the prospect of resting earlier in the tomb than the other family members. Without an answer (which is God) to the questions of life, no one—the younger generation included—can appease the soul’s natural fear of what is unknown.
4. Insecurity in Life Causes Unhappiness
Insecurity in life can cause unhappiness. For example, consider the possibility that your beloved wife will divorce you, even if you are as wealthy as Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. The movie idea that money buys everything, even your wife, is true—except happiness! Your money cannot buy you inner peace, just as much as a woman’s beauty cannot pay for her husband’s love. Remember that good looks, like fame or mountains of money, can only offer pleasure, but not peace of mind and joy of heart.
The feeling of facing future dangers is inborn. You don’t need to finish college to believe you need a marriage contract or a concrete house to protect your family from unforeseen harm. Life is full of surprising turns, and that is why, to be happy, we always have the God-solution we mentioned above to the mighty questions of life.
A so-called sense of satisfaction and appreciation, as suggested by many thinkers as a cure for unhappiness, will not work unless you have the God-solution for the imposing life queries (like “Who am I?”). And this thought is biblically supported since the apostle Paul said: “[A]nd in Him [Christ] you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” (Col. 2:10)
There is no sense of completeness and security outside of God. The Bible says:
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 43:1-3; 16:8)
5. A Sense of Guilt Produces Unhappiness in the Soul
They say we must move on and never let the past disturb our hearts. Most of the time, this so-called “past” carries within it a sense of guilt, like divorcing a wife while she is pregnant and jobless. Have you heard about a father who accidentally shot his young son? This life story may not just bring forth unhappiness, but confusion, or even insanity. A sense of guilt offers nothing but sadness and slavery of the conscience.
Those who don’t trust in the Holy Scriptures normally trust in science, but there is no proof that psychotherapy can cure a guilt complex. A little scouring of the Internet will yield no permanent solution to guilt syndrome except an antidepressant prescription and “replacement” of negative thoughts energized by guilt.
The symptoms of a guilt complex are anxiety, regret, upset stomach, worry, crying, insomnia, muscle tension, preoccupation with past mistakes, and suicidal thoughts.
The God-solution to cure an enduring sense of guilt complex is faith in Christ Jesus. The atheists reject this “cure” mindlessly as they hate our Lord, even though their suicidal thoughts and confusion imbue their souls every day.
But for those who still believe in the God-solution we discuss here, the apostle John said: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:9, 7)
6. Unhappiness Happens When You Don’t Have a Sacred Authority to Depend On
One of the most attacked men on earth (aside from Christ) was the patriarch Job in the Scriptures. Satan himself beat him with open sores spreading all over his body. The devil also killed his livestock and children. While Job sat on the ash heap and scraped his sores, his wife mocked his God. But Job remained unperturbed and collected. Then, he said: “Though He [God] slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15) Job’s sacred authority, who is God and His Word, had kept his inner peace despite his sufferings.
This hymn, written by Moshie Lister, tells the story of complete dependence on God despite the storms of life.
Till the Storm Passes By
In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place.
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
The God-solution is the panacea for unhappiness. Christ’s promised peace always works with those who believe in our Lord. He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)
7. Sin Shoves Unhappiness in Life
A certain man beat his wife often, as if she was not worthy of his respect after signing the marriage contract. A few years after the birth of their first child, he had a cerebral stroke. Without delay, his wife and child left him—with no little sympathy left in her heart for her abusive husband!
It is how sin works. After Adam and Eve sinned against God, their son, Cain, killed his brother. Sin simmered with woes and regrets.
Sin is highly misunderstood and unrecognized most of the time as the trigger for humanity’s miseries. The sinful desire to conquer a neighbor, for example, has sparked the Russo-Ukraine War. As a result, tens of thousands died.
Another example is how legislation has aided the gay phenomenon and transgenderism in the United States and Europe. The result is the bizarre and sodomized sexual revolution that is tremendously harmful to the biblical core values of any strong and decent society.
The freedom to commit sexual sins will always give rise to misery, depression, people’s suicidal drifts, and deteriorating mental health.
Sin always shoves unhappiness and confusion into every sinful life. As Prophet Isaiah wrote: “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.'” (Is. 57:21)
8. Hopelessness Breeds Unhappiness
We mentioned the need to have a sense of meaning and purpose in life to be happy. Hopelessness is just the other version of meaninglessness, which is a suitable ambiance to nurture unhappiness. Grinding poverty, for example, always breeds emptiness, like expecting turbulent clouds on the horizon every single day. A homeless man is another instance where hopelessness spawns unhappiness.
Now, how is our God-solution to heal hopelessness? Well, a little tale about a dying Christian rodeo rider is helpful in our discussion. Why? Because before he breathed his last, he gave his parents a thumb’s up since he could no longer speak. That is the meaning of assurance in Christ, in contrast to the epidemic of hopelessness plaguing all unbelievers. The apostle John wrote:
A believer in Christ is assured of eternal life. And the Holy Spirit seals into the heart of the born-again Christian this assurance of an endless life. For this Spirit’s indwelling, the apostle Paul said,
The other translations for the word “pledge” are “down payment,” “deposit,” and “guarantee.” The Holy Spirit, whom God poured on Christ’s born-again followers, gives them assurance and hope of a life beyond the grave. Saint Luke wrote, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52) There is joy and hope in Christ.
The Holy Spirit is also Christ’s Spirit, who is our Hope. To heal our hopelessness, the apostle Paul clarified that “Christ is in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)
Read also: What is Being Born of the Spirit of God?
9. An Unforgiving Heart Always Harbors Unhappiness
People are naturally unforgiving. The Bible says, “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD.” (Rom. 3:15) In short, it takes training or exposure to a certain philosophy or religious belief system before we can have a slightly forgiving heart. The side effect of our human version of forgiveness is that we won’t forget the misdeed done to us, and we will change our treatment toward the person causing us the pain. Just like a wife who will not sleep with her adulterous husband again after forgiving him. As they say, we are not little gods, but only imperfect humans.
Again, how do we apply our God-solution approach to rectify our unhappiness brought about by the “hardness of our hearts”? Well, the answer is that “To acquire wisdom is to love yourself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” (Prov. 19:8, NLT; Eph. 5:29) Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” This change of worldview about people’s offenses against you can happen only after following Christ. Because if you have Christ’s Spirit in your soul, it is easier to forgive and forget people’s affronts to your person. “I will give My peace,” Christ said.
If you forgive, our Lord said, do it not seven times, but “seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:22) It brings us to the reality that of all Christ’s commands, only Christ can obey them perfectly. We can only sincerely forgive our enemies with the help of our Lord. “[F]or apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b).
To Wrap Up: We Can Overcome Our Unhappiness
Let us restate the fundamental causes of unhappiness, which are: 1. Insatiability; 2. Lack of a sense of meaning and purpose in life; and 3. Fear of the unknown; 4. Insecurity; 5. Sense of Guilt; 6. No reliance on an Authority (God and the Bible); 7. Sin; 8. Hopelessness; and 9. Lack of Forgiveness. And they are all crushed when God is involved in our lives. With God, we can defeat unhappiness inside our hearts. That is why the apostle Paul wrote:
Read also: Atheism Crumbles While the Bible Stands
For further discussion of the subject of unhappiness and the “God solution,” read our post on the biblical Gospel, being born of the Spirit of God, and how happiness in Christ is better experienced than explained.
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