The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is full of talented artists that we all celebrate. In each of our church buildings, you’re likely to find many beautiful illustrations of the Savior, often depicting Him teaching people during His mortal ministry, holding or conversing with children, or leading a flock of sheep — but what about paintings for people struggling with depression?
Truthfully, while we love those paintings, we may at times feel separated from them — they don’t always show Christ reaching out to us and loving us in our times where we feel most unlovable; when we are sad, despondent, and hopeless. But He does reach out to us, especially in those moments, and I think the following paintings (among many others!) illustrate that beautifully and can bring us peace in our hours of deepest need.
Lost and Found by Greg Olsen
Painting Description (as told by the aritst): “I received an e-mail from a young man who expressed his discouragement at not being able to find many images of the Savior with teenagers. He noted that he had seen many paintings depicting Christ with loveable little children, but rarely had he found his age group represented in such a setting. This young man closed his message with these heartfelt words: “What about us?” Many of us have probably asked a similar question. What about me? Who doesn’t love little children with all their precious innocence and charm? But what about those of us that may not feel as lovable; those of us who may have struggled and lost our way, or who have wandered paths that have left us worn and doubting our worth? Thankfully, Christ’s love carries no conditions and is extended in full measure, especially to those who feel lost and forgotten.”
Found by Yongsung Kim
I’m obsessed with this painting by Yongsung Kim, a famous Christian artist among the Latter-day Saint community (although Kim himself isn’t LDS). You probably guessed it from the title, but this painting depicts Christ finding the lost sheep He speaks of in Luke 15:4-5: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” And just as this painting so breathtakingly illustrates, Christ rejoices infinitely once we are “found.” No matter how lost, scared, or hopeless we might feel, the Savior loves us immeasurably — and He can find us.
An Angel Strengthened Him by Del Parson
Del Parson’s website doesn’t list a backstory or any kind of painting symbology for this particular painting, but it’s one that never fails to touch my heart. The Savior, going through the most excruciating suffering anyone has ever known, must have desperately sought some kind of comfort — and He received it in the form of an angel. Luke 22:43 tells us, “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”
I have faith that in our own lives, this same thing happens. When we struggle, when we suffer, when we plead to Heaven, I feel confident that there are angels behind us, strengthening us. While we may not be able to see them, I firmly believe that God sends us angels at times to give us the strength that we, in our imperfect and mortal state, don’t have ourselves.
She Will Find What is Lost by Brian Kershisnik
Painting Backstory (as told by the artist): “My intention for this piece was to speak to the most intensely private and intimate kind of supernatural interference, influence, and assistance… Many unseen forces are interested in you, love you, and work to influence matters for your profound benefit. Most of what we all do is resist it, misinterpret it, or mess it up, but my experience indicates that these unseen efforts persist impossibly. I thank God for that.”
Even a Sparrow by Greg Olsen
Painting Description (as told by the artist): “As I look at the intricate design of these little sparrows, experience tells me that where there is a design, there is a designer! It is a comforting thought to consider that somewhere there is a Creator who is aware of and has love for even the least of His creations. There is incredible intimacy in the vastness of this thought.”
The Hand of God by Yongsung Kim
Foundation Arts’ Description: “When I first saw this painting, I was moved by the beautiful colors and the new perspective of Jesus Christ. Then I realized that this is what Peter would have seen when his faith faltered as he attempted to walk on the water calling out as he sank, “Lord, save me!”
The hand of Jesus reaching into the water for Peter should give each of us some comfort. We each have failed in someway on our path to be like Jesus and He is always there for us. We just need to reach out and grab His hand.”
Touching Faith by Lester Yocum
Painting Description (as told by the artist): “This is a scene of a woman trying to touch Christ’s robe, often called “the woman with the issue of blood.” The story centers on a woman who impoverishes herself over 12 years with doctors who fail to cure her blood loss. Her outreach to the Savior for healing was one of hope, faith, and last-chance desperation.”
For She Loved Much by Jeff Hein
Understanding the scripture behind the painting’s title sheds a lot of light on this awe-inspiring image: “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.” This woman, who had apparently committed many sins (as has each of us), loved the Lord deeply and tried to serve Him to the best of her abilities — and because of that, Christ made up for what she lacked.
Finding Peace by Nick Stephens
Painting Description (as told by the artist): “We often get caught up in the unimportant details of our over-scheduled lives. Sometimes we face major challenges, other times things can seem confusing or troubling. Do we pray throughout our lives to find answers, build confidence in our relationship with God, and more importantly find peace to carry us through the ups and downs? This painting is a beautiful reminder of a fundamental practice.
The pattern in the background could be seen as a symbol of a window. It lets light into a room while protecting us from the elements. It can also be very beautiful and inspiring, inviting us to look to the ultimate source of light. Of course one doesn’t have to be beautiful or well dressed to address their Father in heaven, nor do you have to be kneeling. Prayer can be constant in our hearts and minds, wherever we may be.”
Forgiven by Greg Olsen
Painting Description (as told by the artist): “Even though this piece was originally inspired by Isaiah 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet…” it has come to represent even a broader meaning for me. All of us carry burdens which are represented in this painting by the scarlet attire of the woman. Sometimes those burdens stem from mistakes we have made, the painful consequences of poor decisions. At other times the burdens may take the form of depression, sickness, loss or sorrow. We may feel hopeless because of financial worries and misfortune. Some of us may have experienced abuse and fear. Others deal with hurt and anger. Whatever the cause of our tears there is one waiting to wipe away our tears and make us whole.”
Mourning’s Hosanna by Rose Datoc Dall
Painting Description (as told by the artist): “Mourning’s Hosanna is a portrait of a slave named Mourning, whose name was mentioned in the will and roster of slaves of a Virginian family. The descendants of this family felt a particular connection with Mourning when performing proxy temple work and commissioned this portrait to be done of Mourning. While Rose Datoc Dall had no photos of this Mourning, she felt impressed to paint Mourning, surrounded by her progenitors, waving her handkerchief in hosanna, in essence, being freedom from bondage of another sort.”
Come Forth by Richard Russell
As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety, I can say with certainty that sometimes when you’re depressed, it feels like you’re enshrouded in darkness — like no one can see you, let alone how much you’re suffering. But Christ, the brilliant Light of our lives, sees you. He knows. He has been there; He has literally experienced it, and knows how to carry you and comfort you through the darkest moments of life. There is no corner of our lives too dark for the Savior’s light to break through.
Black Sheep by Julie Rogers
I think at one time or another, each of us feels like a black sheep — whether that’s in a group of strangers, among your peers at work or school, or even sometimes amidst your own family. Yet Christ understands the black sheep… After all, He was one. He was different from others and was ultimately rejected for it. So even if you feel misunderstood, alone, or strange, know that Christ not only understands you, but knows you and loves you — differences, depression, and all.
For anyone who is suffering from the loss of a loved one, Julie Rogers also has many stunning paintings on that subject, including one of my favorites, veil crossing.
Fruit of Life by Megan Rieker
This gorgeous painting reminds me that no matter how dark and dreary the world or your life feels, there is always hope. We may feel tangled up in the world’s web of deception, but if we reach out for the Savior’s light, we can find peace amidst all the chaos and fear.
What paintings have you found that have strengthened and comforted you during times of sorrow? Share with us in the comments so we can all find joy in uplifting artwork!