If you are a big-time confessor of sin when you are depressed—and there are a few of you—then please skip this. But if you are prone to depression, and confession is not high on your list, this might help.
The misery of depression is in its apathy. That’s what makes you feel dead. You feel nothing, so you do nothing. Or you feel agitated, but agitation is not the same as passion. Passion wants to do something; agitation is aimless. The skills to take a stand against such inertia certainly are not intrinsic to us.
So you look for something within your reach that might contribute a smidgeon of vitality. Confession is especially suitable for this because confession, in itself, is a sign of life. It is evidence of the Spirit working in us. And it comes with the assurance of forgiveness of sins. If you have no idea where to start, you could begin with the Confession of Sin from The Book of Common Prayer, some of the prayers from The Valley of Vision, or Prone to Wander. You could also try more specific confession.
Are you holding something against God? “Lord, my questions to you about “why?” and “how long?” have become accusations. At times I have stood over you in judgment rather than under you in humility. Please forgive me.”
Do you complain? Scripture has much to say about complaining. In an especially pointed passage, the Lord sees through our complaints and identifies them as holding him in contempt (Num. 14:11). Most of us can make room for confession and repentance with this one. “Father, I am much better at complaining than I am at thankfulness.”
Do you ever simply speak to the Lord about the hardness of what you experience? “Lord, there are too many times when I am like ancient Israel. I do not cry out to you from my heart but wail upon my bed (Hos. 7:14). I live like a silent spouse, with my back turned to you. Please forgive me.”
Are you angry with other people? Anger can take different forms: complaining, resentment, envy—to name a few. If we have never really known God’s love and forgiveness, then our anger makes sense. After all, we tend to treat others in the way we ourselves have been treated. But if we have been loved and forgiven, our anger is arrogance before God and others. “Father, forgive me for standing in judgment over others rather than considering how to love them.”
This is not a case of kicking a depressed person who is already down. Confession is how we turn from things associated with death and turn to Christ and life itself. It is a way we have communion with him. It is a gift, and it is met with God’s forgiveness and joy.
“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Ps. 130:3-4). And fear, in this passage, suggests that we are controlled more by the God of life than by anyone or anything else.
Simply end your confession with “thank you,” then look around and see if you notice a hint of life.