I knew truth.
I grew up in a gospel-saturated home, attended a church committed to Bible truth, and studied at a Bible College. I may not have been some great theologian and I certainly didn’t know everything. However, I was well educated in my faith. I knew what I believed and why I believed it.
My belief became blurry when I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
My depression felt like falling into a black hole. It was a never-ending cascade of darkness and numbness to anything joyful, happy, good, or true.
Depression hung over my head-knowledge like dark storm.
What I knew before like the back of my hand suddenly became fuzzy when I was in the depths of my worst depressive episodes. I forgot everything. Not only did I forget the love of my family and friends, but I forgot the love of my Savior. It wasn’t for lack of exposure to the truth. Not a day goes by without my wonderful Mama telling me she loves me. And I had many people in my life reminding me of the love of God. In fact, I was so saturated in a culture of people who were telling me to have more faith that I began to resent the idea of God all together.
I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t feel God’s love or God’s presence in my depression. I thought that made me a bad Christian.
When I voiced those frustrations, I was guided to the truth that God’s faithfulness remained the same regardless of my feelings. And what a precious truth that is! This guidance almost always came from a place of genuine concern and care for me. I don’t want to fault people for reminding me of the truth. However, I think faith communities need to be more realistic about their approach to depression. Speaking the truth, knowing the truth, and practicing the truth may not be enough to cure depression. It’s foolish and ignorant to believe such a thing.
While depression has a spiritual component because we are spiritual beings, it also has a very real and undeniable physical component.
No one with half a brain would suggest that believing in God and being a good Christian will set, protect, and heal a broken leg. God has lovingly provided us the means of doctors and X-rays and casts to help heal broken bones. Similarly, God has provided doctors, therapists, pastors, and medications to holistically address the physical and spiritual needs that arise out of depression.
Depression is a disease with the capability to make you forget your deepest loves and greatest joys. No amount of willpower or desire can fix that.
If you are a Christian struggling with depression, I want to encourage you to not give up. I know how discouraging and exhausting it can be to feel unable to see the truth. Friend, please don’t give up hope. Be patient with yourself. Your clouded vision is not your fault. Hold on to what you know for as long as you can. And when that becomes too hard, the truth of the gospel is strong enough to hold you.
If you are supporting a Christian who is struggling with depression, please be patient with them. Use extreme caution in suggesting fault over unbelief (implicitly or explicitly). Tell the truth in love, yes. But be prepared to tell them again. And again. And again. Because it may not fix everything or anything for that matter. Learn to listen in love and well as speak truth.
- How have you experienced this as someone with depression?
- What do you think about the use of medication to treat depression?
- What truth about God is most comforting to you?