“What a mercy that we are only truly known to him who is alone able to bear us.”
Lately, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the first three chapters of Genesis. As a single, male seminary student, Genesis 1-3 has a lot to teach me about manhood, relationships, and discipleship. The creation account gives me a framework for championing biblical marriage, and the story of the Fall reminds me to put on my sin goggles so I can weed out unrighteousness in my own life. But one of the things God has been teaching me in the story of the Fall has nothing to do with human dignity or morality. Instead, Genesis 3 reminds me that Jesus died for my depression, too.
I first felt the effects of depression late in middle school. It led me into a short stint of melodrama freshman year, a longing for suicide in my sophomore and junior years, and, thankfully, a softening in my heart toward the gospel my senior year. Adolescence was tough. I felt like I would never be known. I remember thinking that nobody could ever truly love somebody who hated himself that much, so instead of being honest with those who loved me, I pushed my feelings down deeper until they consumed me altogether.
Genesis 3:7 reminds me that I’m not alone in this. Once Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, the text says that, “the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” For the first time in their lives, Adam and Eve realized that they were truly known to the holy God, and they felt like they needed to hide. They knew they deserved punishment. But in verse 21, the God who knows and sees them chooses to clothe them.
While it’s all too easy for us to turn Jesus into a therapist with squared glasses and a clipboard, I think we often overcorrect and shy away from talking about the depth of his embrace. Jesus died for your depression, too. Here are three maxims to help you keep your heart in check during the storm.
1. God knows you.
Christian, rest in the truth that you are truly known. All creatures, including you and I, are, “naked and exposed” to God (Heb. 4:13). The Lord has searched us and knows us (Ps. 139:1). There are millions of things that I keep to myself out of fear that others will grow weary of my desperation. But God is able to bear our shortcomings. He does not tire of our companionship when life gets hard. He will never stop listening to your cries. God knows every tear and hears every prayer. Take heart in being fully known and fully borne.
2. God loves you.
To be fully known but not fully loved would leave us trying to cover ourselves with fig leaves like Adam and Eve. But God has clothed us. Christ came as a man so that we might receive the blanket of his righteousness. He is the true and better garment from the Garden, killed so that we could be covered in His mercy. This is not a garment woven out of our obedience; this is the righteousness of Christ applied to your sinful self. Lay your head down at night knowing that, because of the Son, you are at peace with God. His love for you will never be exhausted, even when you are.
3. God puts hope in you.
When you feel like you’ve reached your lowest, remember that you are united with Christ. He has given the Spirit to empower us, and the Spirit is no respecter of circumstances. We do not rejoice, however, in our power. As Jesus instructs the seventy-two in Luke 10:20, we rejoice that our names are written in heaven, for we have been given the gift of hope in future, eternal glory with Him. One day, things will not be broken, so we are at liberty to rest in anticipation of what lies ahead. We endure all things, pushing towards heaven with a laser-like focus on what lies ahead.
Ripping Up Your Fig Leaves
Remember, Christian, there is no spot that the blood of Christ is unable to cover. There is no need to cover your shame up before God. Rip up your fig leaves, for you have been given garments washed in the blood of Christ. If you are in Christ, you can never outgrow his righteousness no matter how boldly you might sin or how deeply you fall into depression. God's satisfaction is not in your works, but Christ's. Rest in this, brothers and sisters.
These words from hymn writer Augustus Toplady continually remind me that my status before God is one of rest and liberty, not fear and uneasiness:
"Turn, then, my soul, unto thy rest:
The merits of thy Great High Priest
Speak peace and liberty:
Trust in His efficacious blood,
Nor fear thy banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee."
Brothers and sisters: Do not fear your banishment from God. Jesus died for thee, depression and all. He has robed you in his perfect righteousness, and you can never be snatched from His hand. True joy is found when your eyes are fixed on the cross. You deserved nakedness and punishment, but Christ endured it in its fullness. Rest in this truth, and rip up your fig leaves. Rejoice that you no longer have to try to clothe yourself, and pray that, in all things, you would not lose sight of the Father's deep, deep love for you.
Cody Glen Barnhart
Cody Glen Barnhart (@codygbarnhart) lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and is a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Canon & Culture, Gospel Centered Discipleship, and is a contributor at servantsofgrace.org.