I have a love and burden for God’s people who are depressed and sorrowing.
God has also worked in me to give me a love and burden for His people who don’t seem to “get” sorrow. Christians should be the most tender-hearted, loving, encouraging people toward one another the world has ever seen. And I long to see His people (and myself) do this.
But, sometimes instead of helping the sorrowing to make their calling and election sure; to encourage them as long as it is called today; to continually pray for all the saints; we say things with arrogance that wound Christ’s own body.
Here’s a few hurtful generalizations/assumptions I’ve heard said to people belonging to Christ. And also, my responses to them:
1) Depression is made-up. Nobody had depression 2,ooo years ago.
A: To that I say, look to the Psalms or Lamentations or Ecclesiastes or the Minor Prophets or Jesus plight in the Garden or Job. No, the parallels aren’t perfect, but the Bible is rich with examples of God’s people in great sorrow. The lesson from Scripture is to comfort. They will know we are Christians by our love for one another.
2) Depression is a generational sin. You may call it genetic, but I think it’s the sins of the father’s being passed down.
A: I don’t think it’s any more generational sin than high blood pressure is. But certainly the blind man that the disciples asked about comes to mind when assuming generational sin. Is our view of God big enough to believe that he may cause depression for His glory, the way He caused blindness for His glory? And, if you belong to Christ, you are no longer a slave to the law of sin and death, but to Christ.
[Add-on: Providentially, my pastor just posted on this very topic!]
3) Depression itself isn’t a sin, but taking anti-depressants is a crutch that takes you away from reliance on God.
A: I think that anti-depressants are part of God’s common grace to mankind. I’ve yet to meet a Christian who takes them and, as a result, has been pulled away from God or reliance on God. When they are viewed as a means of grace, the depressed person’s affections and thankfulness to the Lord is increased and they are humbled. And from this humility reliance on Him may grow.
4) The Bible is all-sufficient for life and Godliness, not the Bible and anti-depressants.
A: We don’t tell women suffering with low thyroid that their tiredness is really just idle laziness and that the Bible is sufficient for them to live a more godly life. We are compassionate with them as fellow sisters and laborers for the Lord.
We tell them to take thyroid medication to change the balance of the hormone. We don’t admonish them as idle, though they seem totally healthy. And the Bible is completely and utterly sufficient to help guide them (or the depressed person taking medication) through that part of their life and reveal true Godliness to them.
5) Depression means you don’t believe God and His Word. If you did, you wouldn’t be depressed… it’s Good News, after all! You just aren’t reading the Bible enough.
A: Reading the Bible is sometimes the only thing a sorrowing person can do, along with whispering desperate prayers and hoping that others whisper them on their behalf. The depth of Biblical wisdom and love of Scripture I have found in depressed Christians is great. And often their depression does not push them from God, but opens their eyes to the reality that God holds them, apart from works or will.
I may be preaching to the choir with all these posts about sorrow. But here’s the point: smug remarks about depression and prozac are one sure way to drive a fellow brother or sister in Christ to silence, or worse yet, drive them right out the door.
And so I will continue to plead for the lowly: take care with them! It’s what Christians do!