Lincoln Turned to the Bible to Manage His Depression

1-president-abraham-lincoln-1809-1865-everett-02-300X300werbby Rex Rouis

Abraham Lincoln fought clinical depression all his life, and if he were alive today, his condition would be treated as a “character issue”—that is, as a political liability. His condition was indeed a character issue: it gave him the tools to save the nation. – Joshua Wolf Shenk

There were times when for his own safety Lincoln would not allow himself to carry a knife, for fear that he would hurt himself, or worse. The following is an excerpt from the article, Lincoln’s Great Depression. It shows how he used faith to manage his melancholy (depression):

According to General James F. Rusling, Lincoln said that during the fighting at Gettysburg he turned to prayer, felt the whole thing to be in God’s hands, and “somehow a sweet comfort crept into his soul.” In another revealing incident that summer, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker, once told of watching the president drag himself into the room where she was fitting the First Lady. “His step was slow and heavy, and his face sad,” Keckley recalled. “Like a tired child he threw himself upon a sofa, and shaded his eyes with his hands. He was a complete picture of dejection.”

He had just returned from the War Department, he said, where the news was “dark, dark everywhere.” Lincoln then took a small Bible from a stand near the sofa and began to read. “A quarter of an hour passed,” Keckley remembered, “and on glancing at the sofa the face of the president seemed more cheerful. The dejected look was gone; in fact, the countenance was lighted up with new resolution and hope.” Wanting to see what he was reading, Keckley pretended she had dropped something and went behind where Lincoln was sitting so that she could look over his shoulder. It was the Book of Job.

Taken from Joshua Wolf Shenk’s classic, “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.” You can also view a short article version: “Lincoln’s Great Depression” And a great article showing forth in great detail that Abraham Lincoln was indeed a believing Christian – “Abraham Lincoln: The Old School Presbyterian Convert.”


  1. I too have battled depression – at different levels over the years. As a senior citizen, I’ve come to understand it in a new way recently & this revelation has been a genuine help. Most who deal w/depression are very deep & creative thinkers. This is known as having a Melancholy temperament. We all have different temperaments – some are more prone to depression than others. Sanguine people for example are like sunshine in a room! Melancholy people however are the artists & musicians & writers bc they think & are creative – by God’s design. For Melancholies we must realize: AS we think that’s where we’ll go. If we think negatively we’ll spiral down. We must choose to control pur thoughts! Thus why Jesus says: “THINK on those things that are good pure RIGHT & lovely!” He made us creative & His word helps all temperament types … bc He knows how He designed us. All types are needed to make the world function … even Melancholies! “As a man THINKS in his heart, so is he.” You are not made by mistake! Satan will use our weaknesses to destroy us but Father God lovingly teaches us how to overcome! Plz … find a Christian counselor who can help you learn your temperament types so you understand yourself better – look up APS assessment test & get life-saving Chr.
    counsel! God bless your healing path!

  2. My Prayers are with you all as I understand the battles with Depression and Anxiety. God is our only Hope in being delivered from it all.

  3. I suffer greatly as well. Chronic pain, severe depression and anxiety. Not one of us is alone and God is right here. Sometimes I wonder if this is all part of the human experience and want to leave this world. To say that it is a struggle is a major understatement. God bless you all. I humbly ask for your help and prayers.

  4. Please pray for myself and my family. We are a broken home. My sister batters me my elderly parents, and remaining grandmother. It’s been hell for 15 years and I don’t think it will end. Every day is torture. I continue to beg The Most High, but nothing ever changes. My family are good souls who care immensely about others and live as Jesus would want us to live, in forgiveness, compassion and selflessness, perhaps even to the point of being taken advantage of. I’ll never understand why suffering is permissible, or why he doesn’t intervene in disasters. Pray, please! We have suffered and are suffering so much.
    Many blessings and love to all.

  5. Can anyone please pray for me. Even if god gives all that I need in this life, I really want to die. Thank god he has given good and loving people around me but somehow I could not able to move forward despite meditating his word or listening to faith messages and reading faith articles and even Bible. I really look forward for the death day. I am 28years old. If god himself can not help me, I believe for sure even medicine can not and even people can not. God is good. Jesus loves me. My family loves me. I know all but I do not need this life. For sure, I do not have any guts to commit suicide because that brings shame to Jesus but I really want to die in any accident or so. I prayed to god about this too. Perhaps he heart is on big things not a little one like me who is infinitely helpless like a born baby. I only know crying. I tried all, all are waste except salvation. I got it by his grace and it’s enough for me so brothers and sisters please pray for me to die and the salvation of my family.

    1. Prayers for you, Anusha. Don’t give up. I understand exactly how you feel, as I have been there for awhile myself. I can see all the beauty of life, but I can’t seem to grasp it any more. Hold on, because I can promise you, in a week or month or maybe even a year, you will be experiencing some moment of absolute beauty and look back with such thankfulness that you are here. Don’t let the lies of the evil one persuade your heart. You might not need this life, but the people in your life need you, and all the people you have yet to meet.

    2. I know how u r feeling and I also know it will not last 4ever. U say u r 28, which means u have the brain chemistry is that of an adolescent and ur emotions are all over the place! I know this bc when I was 28 I told my doctor I was crazy and needed to be medicated! She told me to wait til I was 30 before considering medication, because, like I’ve already mentioned, in ur 20’s u have the brain chemistry of an adolescent and at 30 it would even out and she was right! Altho I still deal with depression it’s not as severe and my thoughts and emotions are no longer as extreme, I no longer wish to die and my depression manifests itself as a lack of motivation and I do not experience the absolute despair I did in my 20’s. I hope this knowledge helps u to understand ur extreme emotions and puts what u are going thru in perspective and offers encouragement as it did for me. Hang in there and look to our loving Father and His Son for strength to get through this difficult time!!!

  6. Tee, I understand how you feel, as I have been there for over 30 years. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, my friend. People in your life most likely have harmed or disappointed you. That combined with the severe depression, which is a chemical imbalance, has brought you to where you are today. Please understand these truths. First, you are loved as God’s precious child. Second, talk to someone, a hotline or a nurse. You will better understand your struggle and gain insight. Third, millions of people fight this and so did Jesus. He healed, showed the love of His Father and was hated, rejected and killed. He understands the depth and isolation of depression. Fourth, there is light and hope and you can pull out of this. Killing yourself does not end the pain. Right now you see it as an option, but this is a pack of lies from satan. God loves you and if you simply cry out to God about this turmoil, He will provide you peace, comfort and healing. I promise you that He DOES the battling For You. Just say “Jesus, Jesus” over and over and you will experience relief. He will never forget you, forsake you or fail you.

    1. Thanks but it seems the more i pray and ask for help, the worse my life becomes. I’m left wondering why God won’t intervene, maybe i will get the chance to ask Him when i meet him soon.

      1. Author

        Tee – I am praying for you in Jesus Name. You have much more to do in this life before you stand before Him at the end of the age. Don’t let the Devil talk you into cutting it short and lose your rewards. He is trying to kill (you), steal (your eternal rewards), and destroy (those you would have helped).

        I don’t know your issue but maybe you should stop asking and start believing. Faith is not asking Him so much that He finally has to do it or you get Him to change His mind. That is not it. He wants to help you now more than you want it. It is all a matter of getting in position to receive by faith. He only moves by faith. Many times we just assume we are in faith because He is good and we are in such desperate need. He is not moved by need. He is moved by faith.

        Go to our main menu Topics selection and read articles on depression, faith, and healing.

        Browse around and read what jumps out at you. You have to put God’s word and articles about God’s word in your heart for it to grow and come out as faith. It takes effort but it is worth it!! We love you and God loves you. Relax and get in peaceful faith and you will get out of this. It is all a lie from Hell. We love you. Rex

        1. Thank you for your prayers, you really are a great person. I have held on until now, but now I’m tired of waiting for a manifestation. Im worn out from praying, fasting etc. I believe that God is there and He is capable of doing anything but in my case. He doesn’t have the time to do it. I have to let go

  7. I have attempted suicide several times and failed.I took that as a sign that the Lord still has a plan for me.But i don’t know what it is, lately I have found myself contemplating suicide again.I am scared to live
    and scared to die before I realize my full potential.

  8. Prima, and all the others requesting prayer: Please know that I have lifted you up in prayer. God has heard and he will act upon our prayers. His word is the key, repeat it over and over. Believe His word for it NEVER returns void – but always does what it says it will.

    Cast out satan – for he is the one who is the driving spirit. Use the name of Jesus as His word says to do ,and cast satan out of your mind, your life, your future. There is power in this, because of Jesus’ name and His victory over satan.

    A former Pastor of mine told me to “turn to His word; turn to His word – these are my go -to words when the cloud come over me – then I go to His word. I love you – for we are all children of God – His chosen. The head and not the tail. Believe this!

  9. Medication is a tool that I feel God has made available to us. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. I have been struggling myself with those issues over the last 6 years and have had to try several medications and change medications along the way. It has been very frustrating but when I find the right one for me again I feel love and excitement for life again . I am currently seeking out help as I have had several stresses in my life recently and am finding myself in a hole again. Your family loves you as does mine and they do not see you as a burden. I don’t know why we have to go through these trials, but know that you are loved.

  10. Medication is a tool that I feel God has made available to us. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. I have been struggling myself with those issues over the last 6 years and have had to try several medications and change medications along the way. It has been very frustrating but when I find the right one for me again I feel love and excitement for life again . I am currently seeking out help again as I have had several stresses in my life recently and am finding myself in a whole again. Your family loves you as does mine and they do not see you as a burden. I don’t know why we have to go through these trials, but know that you are loved.

  11. Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus

    I really need someone encouragements and prayers. The anxiety and depression has atacked me for more then five months now. I can’t breath and have been crying all time. I have been such a burden for my daughters and my husband. I trust in the Lord and I refused to get medication. I can’t make it alone… I need help and prayers

    Thank you and God bless you all

    1. Author

      Anila – We love you and we are with you. Go to our main page menu and select ‘Topics’ and then select ‘Depression.’ Read the articles and my comments. Many times depression is a spirit that must be dealt with. Turn everything over to God and do not pick it all up again. What what you say. Don’t pray and then undo everything by what you say and do. Don’t beg God, trust that He will do it. I don’t understand the ‘burden’ comment about family.

      Do something different from what you have been doing for the past 5 months. We love you and God loves you. We are praying for you. Rex

      1. Thank you very much Rex for your prayers and your wise advices. God bless you

  12. Jacque, I came to this site looking for help with depression too. My anxiety about all the things going on in my life were making me hopeless. In reading the verses for us depressed folk, I am encouraged. He does care for me, for you and will work on your behalf somehow.
    I have had times when I couldn’t pray. When my mom died suddenly, I could neither pray or read the Bible. I found one of my mom’s books by Beth Moore: Praying the Word. It helped because I could both pray and read the Word just by reading that gem. I didn’t read it to break strongholds per see. I just picked it up.

  13. God will lead us in the way we should go and the word of god is the way forward

  14. I have given up. I have no energy to even pray. I want to but i am drained . please i need your help.

    1. Author

      Jacque – I am praying for you in Jesus Name. You have energy strength and power from On High from God. Read the articles on this page that jump out at you. God is working, we are with you, don’t give up. That is what the blindness to hope wants you to. That is the very purpose of the attack. And read this – Scriptures Against Hopelessness and Depression Is a Spirit – It Must Be Fought with the Word of God and There Is Hope When You Are Beyond Hope. We love you. Do not give up. It does not help. It does not make you feel better. Rex

      1. I think God brought me to this website. I’ve struggled all my life with depression. I also felt like you today Jacque until I bumped onto this website. now I see I’m not alone and mostly God Is with me. There is nothing that will save us expect him alone. His mercy is with us. Hang in there and in the word Jacque, you are not alone. Will keep you in my prayers as well.

    2. Hi Jacque, I just read your post. Sometimes when we are too weak to pray, we need the strength of others to pray for us. I prayed that God would give you strength and comfort. We that fight depression cannot stop fighting. If we consider that we have to recognize that satan is doing all he can to convince us of giving up. Mathew West sings a very uplifting song called “Grace Wins” I hope you will take a few minutes and listen to it. A few months ago I was where you are now and the song helped me beyond belief. I will wait and hope to see your reply..

  15. God brings me comfort when my arms feel weak and my legs are numb.

  16. Thank you for this inspiring account of Lincoln’s struggle. Like others, I too struggle with daily anxiety and depression and often spiral into state of hopelessness. But like Lincoln, these are the times I need to return to the Bible and also to talk to God, who is all knowing and always listening.

  17. Thank you so much for all your posts on depression. They are helping me so much. I will definitely share this with others. God Bless you abundantly!

  18. I believe in the One who created me. I allow weaknesses & temptations to overwhelm seeking no guidance,help or strength from Him and I suffer anxiety disorder since 2012,July. I realized after nearly 2 years that I need to fight back with help from medical treatment and that medication will effectively work by God’s healing touch , mercy and forgiveness. I lose the strength and hope many a times and my symptoms are getting no better. I request my fellow Christian brothers and sisters to support me in love through your prayers that each day I can climb back strong and hopeful with unfaltering faith no matter what the situation is. today I’m still battling this anxiety disorder problem continually and I believe God knows me better, cares for me and knows best where should I be and what should I do to be healed. pray that He will show me that way and give me strength to trust, believe and obey no matter what that one day I’ll be better and stronger than ever for by His stripes ,I am healed.

  19. The Word has all the answers to whatever situation we may find ourselves in. All we need to do ask in prayer and read the word. God will do the rest.

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