Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can a "True Christian" struggle with depression?


I’ve heard this question posed before in many different ways, and in fact I’ve heard it given more as a rhetorical question with the one giving the question making it clear that the obvious answer is no.  (Btw please note that it is not up to me or you to determine whether someone’s Christianity is “true” or not)

Sometimes well meaning Christians come across as the most heartless, cold, uncaring people when they say things like, “you are just focused on the wrong thing”, or why can’t you see how blessed you are”, or “you don’t have it nearly as bad as the man on the street, or the orphan in the 3rd world country”, or countless other phrases intended to knock the person out of their depression.

Whether you know it or not someone close to you, in fact possibly many people close to you who are professing Christians are currently struggling with depression.  Studies show that in a typical congregation of 200 people 50 attendees will experience depression at some point, and at least 30 are currently taking antidepressants.  (March 2009 article in Christianity Today).

We can argue back and forth about whether depression is a disease or not, but that kind of misses the point doesn’t it?  The fact is, depression is real, and it is all around you, and contrary to some people’s opinion it isn’t a new problem.  Listen to what David said in portions of the 39th Psalm Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends — those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. Sounds to me like the man who gave us the greatest praise songs ever also struggled with depression.

So starting today, will you make a commitment to pay a little closer attention to those around you?  Watch their body language, take note of the little self-depreciating things they say, notice when they seem to be less prompt, or take care of themselves a little less than normal, etc., and take time to let them know how much you care about them.  Send a note, give a hug, and make it obvious that you are available for them if they need it.

Maybe together we can help each other cope with the difficulties of life, instead of ignoring what seem to be signs of weakness. “What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Rom. 8:31 – and yet God is often revealed through His people, and their acts of love, compassion, and kindness.  God is for us, and we have a responsibility to help others see this amazing truth, yes even other Christians who are struggling with depression.
In Christ,

Lance Osborn

2 comments:

  1. Good post sir. I personally know some very strong Christians who struggle with depression. Those who try to play it off as weakness or lack of faith do not understand the real issues people who suffer face. They simplify the wonderfully complex creation our Lord has made us to be. God needs all types of Christians, the annoyingly happy ones, the quirky ones, the eager to please ones, and yes even the depressed ones. We all play a part in glorifying His kingdom. God bless you Lance.

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    1. Thank you Tim, really good comment -

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