True believers don’t suffer from depression.” His false statement rang in my ear like a noisy gong, and then hung in the air like smoke, waiting to be cleared away. I wasn’t exactly sure how this conversation had started, but one thing led to another and I here I was with this visitor and a small group of men and women discussing the existence of depression among Christians.
It would have been a hard conversation for anyone to have, but for me, it was even harder still. Because little did this visitor know that I was only now emerging from the terrible pit of depression myself. Little did he know that for me, this conversation was personal, because I felt like I’d just been to hell and back. Little did he know that my heart had wrestled and my body had collapsed under the pressure of depression.
As a counselor, this was a conversation I was glad to be a part of. For over a decade, I’ve worked with men, women, children and teens struggling with mild to severe depression. I’ve seen firsthand the pain and paralysis it can bring. But I’ve also experienced it in my own life. I know the sinking quicksand that can drain your body, burden your heart and eat away at your mind.
It breaks my heart to hear the myths and lies that Christians believe about depression and the shame that can be felt surrounding this topic. As I’ve interacted with more and more people on this topic, I’ve noticed that there are a few false ideas that continue to be perpetuated among believers:
Depression is a Faith Issue.
Like the visitor had falsely said many Christians buy into the idea that “True believers don’t suffer from depression.”
I think this is the worst of all the lies, because not only is it false, but it’s antithesis of the entire message of Christ. As believers, we are never promised a pain-free, disease-free, struggle-free life. But we are promised a Savior, A Comfortor and a Friend.
I look back at the hardest moments I have faced with depression and I see Jesus right by my side. I remember crying out one night and feeling all alone, and just then, God’s presence overwhelmed me in that moment, just when I needed it the most.
Depression has nothing to do with a lack of faith. In fact, for me, it has been the catalyst for even deeper faith. Because some days, in the hardest moments, faith was the only thing I had.
Depression Can be Prayed Away.
I prayed more during the days and months when my depression was worst than I ever did in my entire life. But my depression didn’t magically disappear.
I believe in prayer, and I believe in a God who can heal all things—in fact, I genuinely believe it was His hand that lifted my depression. But freedom from depression requires prayer and treatment. Whether in the form of support, therapy or medication, as believers we have to have a “next steps” approach as we interact with people struggling with depression.
God has given us wisdom, and loads of research, to help us understand the multi-faceted disease of depression. It’s time for us to pray—but to also be prepared.
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