"In addition to my other numerous acquaintances, I have one more intimate confidant. My depression is the most faithful mistress I have known -- no wonder, then, that I return the love."
I do not want to be flippant about such a delicate matter; nor can I avoid oversimplifying in this brief space.
My formative years were influenced by elements reacting to Freudian principles in a way that, while to some degree understandable, left the mistaken impression that there was never any use in the Christian’s life for psychiatric evaluation or medication.
We know now that clinical depression and other identifiable problems such as bipolarity have physiological roots. How devastating it would be to continually exacerbate the problem by avoiding proper treatment. Harder still would be the constant feeling of defeat in the spiritual realm. If clinical depression can be cured by simply trusting God and learning to rest on His promises, then some of us must be in worse shape than complete infidels!
Often, our deepest depression has at its root... not a lack of faith, a pessimistic nature, low self-esteem, or guilt, but something far less “condemning”, tied to the physicality of our temporal existence.
Depression and despair – two different things?
I wonder if our reluctance to seek medical assistance stems from an honest concern that humans in general confuse depression with despair, or more precisely, place despair in the same basket with depression.
Despair -of the sort that philosophers like Kierkegaard elaborate on- emanates more from a crisis of identity, a sense of emptiness, a longing for self-validation, a "something more", whose only answer can be found in the resolution of a spiritual deficiency. We allege that that deficiency is the lack of the presence of Christ.
When attempting to cover despair with pills and therapy, we expect too much of both. It turns into a futile attempt to run from reality, to avoid the transcending eternal issues, to not face our own mortality. Taking pills instead of repenting and letting Christ rule in our hearts may only secure us a spot in line on the "broad road" that leads to where we don't want to go.
At the same time, many Christian people deal with depression while exemplifying spiritual victory. They can be overwhelmed by the blackness, incapacitated by the weight of their inner turmoil. Their malady can feel like a raging, black panther lurking in the darkness. Every day, they have to work at feeling normal. Yet, they are discerning enough to distinguish when they need help.
Please be encouraged! You are an example to the rest of us. Our hats are off to you. It is not about fault or guilt; it is much more about the sustaining power of the grace of God abiding in "jars of clay".
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Please be careful! If what you call depression is really more like despair, there is an answer. But you might not find it in a Doctor's office. The empty space can only be filled when you repent and allow Jesus into your heart.
"For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him…" (Colossians 2:9-10)
(re-posted from 11.04.2009)
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 36 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6
To highlight one essential facet of the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ... Rev 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:18