Depression and Disappointment: How to Overcome Them

Depression and Disappointment: How to Overcome Them

Disappointment and depression; two factors that ruin your life and make you lose hope. Why are we depressed, and why are our expectations doomed to disappointment? How can we overcome depression and handle disappointment? The Quran gives us different solutions to solve these spiritual problems and guides us towards spirituality.

When we cannot achieve our goal or lose hope, we feel disappointed and grow depressed. To overcome depression and disappointment based on the teachings of the Quran, we will discuss the following issues in this article:

God’s Mercy: Why No One Should Suffer From Depression

Human beings eagerly wish to accomplish their tasks. When man strives for a goal, he desires to reach it soon and quickly move on with another task. If he cannot fulfill his desires or is beset with all sorts of problems, he may lose hope and get disappointed. For instance, if someone does not have enough money and does not have a good job and his family forces him to buy a house, he will be confronted with many problems. After a while, he may lose hope, get disappointed, and become depressed if he neglects God’s mercy. God warns us lest we despair of God’s mercy.

For example, when Prophet Jacob  sent his sons to inquire about Joseph, he advised them that they should not despair of God’s mercy:

يَا بَنِيَّ اذْهَبُوا فَتَحَسَّسُوا مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلَا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

[Jacob said to his sons,] “O my son! Go and inquire about Joseph and his brother, and do not despair of God’s mercy. Indeed, only the disbeliever’s despair of God’s mercy.1

Man should know that God shows His mercy to people, helps them, and solves the problems of the needy. Therefore, he is not allowed to neglect nor be despaired of God’s mercy.

‏ قُل لِّمَن مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ قُل لِّلَّهِ ۚ كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ ۚ لَيَجْمَعَنَّكُمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ ۚ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ‎﴿١٢﴾‏

Say, “To who belongs whatever exists in the heaven and the earth?” Say, “It belongs to God [who has] prescribed for Himself mercy. He will certainly gather you on the Day of Judgment which is beyond doubt. [But] those who ruined their souls, they do not believe [in the Day of Judgment].”2

وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا ۚ إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ ‎﴿٥٦﴾

Do not make corruption on earth after it has been reformed, and call upon your Lord humbly and eagerly. Indeed, His mercy is near to the righteous.3

 The Result Is in the Hand of God

A believer should consider that all things are in the hands of Allah, and nothing will happen if God does not permit and desire it.  It is God who has created and manages everything, so the result rests with God:

فَسُبْحَانَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ 

[He] is glorified. [The Lord] who He has the sovereignty of all things in his hand, And you will be brought back to Him.4

قُلْ مَن بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلَا يُجَارُ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

Say, “If you know, [then] in whose hand is the dominion of all things? He protects, but He needs no protection?”5

When a believer finds out that everything, including the result of his task is in the hand of God, he should not be disappointed, nor should he be depressed because he has done his duty. He should be happy and know that God will provide the best result for him. This is why he should trust in God without being anxious or depressed. God commands the believers to trust in Him:

ان يَنصُرْكُمُ اللَّهُ فَلَا غَالِبَ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَن ذَا الَّذِي يَنصُرُكُم مِّن بَعْدِهِ ۗ وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ‎

Nobody can overcome you if God helps you, and if He leaves you alone, who will help you after that? And the believers should trust in God.6

We Have to Do Our Best

We must carry out our duty as God has commanded us. This means that we are not allowed to shirk, neglect, or abandon our duty because the value of a human being is based on his effort and struggle.

وَأَن لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَىٰ

And only whatever the human being strives for belongs to him.7

When we perform our duty, we should know that we have done whatsoever we must have done. Therefore, there is no reason to get disappointed and depressed. Again, we need to trust in God and be pleased with the result because we did our best. 

What We Hate May Be for Our Benefit

Human knowledge is limited. It is impossible to know everything. However, God is aware of all things. God knows what is suitable for the present and the future. Still, we sometimes cannot understand what is ideal for us. This is why sometimes God does not permit what we desire to happen. It is because it may be harmful to our future, or it may prevent us from achieving something better:

وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ. 

You may hate something while it is good for you, and you may love something while it is terrible for you, and God knows, but you do not know.8

Thus, we should know that God manages us, and He knows best that what we love may be harmful or what we hate may benefit us. As a result, He may deprive us of what we love. It is better to be pleased with the result and trust in God. If we understand this point, we can easily overcome our disappointment and depression.

The Ultimate Outcome Is in the Hereafter

Another critical factor that man should consider is that the world’s life is temporary and that man cannot fulfill all his wishes in this world. He should pay attention to the fact that he will see the outcome of his deeds, words, and intentions in the world to come. Therefore, the failures and ups and downs of life must not make him disappointed, anxious, or depressed. 

When man finds out that God will resurrect him and he will live a new life in the Hereafter, he will do his best to please God and carry out his duties. As a result, worldly relationships and failures would not make him disappointed or depressed; instead, he does his best to reach the abode of peace.

لَهُمْ دَارُ السَّلَامِ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَهُوَ وَلِيُّهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

They will have the abode of peace before their Lord, and He will be their guardian because of what they used to perform.9

It Is Satan Who Makes Us Disappointed

Satan is the manifest enemy of a human being. He whispers and persuades man to sin. If human beings are hopeful and motivated, they will perform good deeds. They will be helpful for their family and people. In this way, Satan cannot easily mislead them. Instead, he tries to make them disappointed and depressed.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ادْخُلُوا فِي السِّلْمِ كَافَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ‎﴿٢٠٨﴾

O You Who Believe! Enter all of you into submission and do not follow in Satan’s footsteps. Indeed, he is your obvious enemy.10

Satan gives false promises to man and makes people disappointed. He tells people that the future is terrible and that poverty will strike them. Thus he makes them unhappy and depressed so that he may lead people astray. We should ignore Satan. We must not follow his words and temptations. 

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاءِ ۖ وَاللَّهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلًا ۗ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

Satan promises poverty to you and prompts you to commit indecency, while God promises you His forgiveness and bounty, and God is Expander, All-Knowing.11

God’s Remembrance Helps One Come Out of Depression

Those who refuse to remember God will suffer spiritual pressures because they lack the support of the Almighty and most kind God.

وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ

And whoever turns away from My remembrance, he will live in misery, and We will resurrect him blind [on the Day of Qiyamah].12

A human being comprises a spirit and a physical body. The food of the soul is the remembrance of God. Those who do not remember God and refuse to trust in God will soon become disappointed, anxious, and depressed. They are the people who do not see the truth in the world [dunya] and ignore it as if they are blind, so God will resurrect them blind in the world to come as they had turned a blind eye to the truth. 

Conclusion

When a human being fails to achieve his goal or suffers from endless troubles, he may lose hope, sound disappointed, and succumb to depression. Therefore, to overcome depression, he should know that God showers His mercy on all human beings; therefore, there is no reason for his depression. His duty is to carry out his role in life and not more. The result is in the hand of God. Thus, there is no way one should get disappointed. In addition, he should ignore the temptations of Satan and remember God so that he may be able to overcome disappointment and depression.  


References

  1. Quran 12:87 (Foroutan).
  2. 6:12 (Foroutan).
  3. 7:56 (Foroutan).
  4. 36:83 (Foroutan).
  5. 23:88 (Foroutan).
  6. 3:160 (Foroutan).
  7. 53:39 (Foroutan).
  8. 2:216 (Foroutan).
  9. 6:127 (Foroutan).
  10. 2:208 (Foroutan).
  11. 2:268 (Foroutan).
  12. 20:124 (Foroutan).
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Dr. Behrouz Foroutan
Dr. Behrouz Foroutan
Dr. Behrouz Foroutan is a scholar, author, and international lecturer in Islamic studies. He has been involved in scripture translation and its commentary for approximately two decades now but he put most of his focus on translating the Qur’an and its commentary in English in a way that makes it easier for the reader to understand, without losing its credibility. The product of that was books on spirituality, beliefs, and a new English translation of the Qur’an and its commentary in 12 volumes.

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