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The Christian and Depression

December 28, 2019

My daily reading was from Job (3:20-26) and describes his period of what can only be described as depression. ‘Why does God let me live
when life is miserable and bitter?’ ‘ Moaning and groaning are my food and drink’
Depression is not lack of faith but one of the conditions that arises from living in a fallen and broken world. Job’s depression was brought on by mass grief and physical illness. There are lots of causes of depression. I am no expert but from my observation I believe what a lot of the causes of depression bring is a lack of hope. A psychiatrist I met described the mental health crisis within young people as an existential crisis. And one of the Proverbs that has meant a lot to me is ‘Without vision the people perish’. The word ‘vision’ is a word describing a revelation of God. The word ‘perish’ is a word meaning out of control, blown in all and every direction, not finding direction and purpose. So perhaps a vision that faith brings may help with depression. Let us look at Job to see how a Christian could respond to depression.

So what is a Christian response to depression

1. Acknowledge it – Job did not hide his depression. He acknowledged his feelings and situation. He did not deny them or cover them up in a super spiritual manner.

2. Share it – in being real and authentic he shared and talked about his feelings. Even acknowledging suicidal thoughts. As a Christian we are called to tell the truth. Perhaps being honest about how we are feeling is a good start. It is interesting how the advice from the professionals is not to avoid talking about this.

3. Seek help – Job looked to help from his friends. In the book of Job it is difficult when reading (and preaching) from the book to distinguish the good and bad advice. There often seems a mixture from his friends. When we are depressed we need to seek help and advice – even when it is a mixed bag. Reflect on the advice and see (even try) what could help. Certainly seek professional help – from GP’s, counsellors, talking space, online courses. Try physical solutions ranging from rest, diet (1 Kings 19:5), exercise (1 Tim 4:8), medication(1Tim 5:23) as well as talking therapies.

4. Keep Faith – In complaining to God, Job acknowledged and kept a relationship with God and in Job 19:25 he acknowledges the hope of a redeemer. The Psalmist in 42:5 reminds himself to keep faith. And for us who live this side of the incarnation we have ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’. Paul writes this while suffering. We are a people of hope whatever the situation.

5. Keep Fellowship – when we are depressed it is hard to keep fellowship with other Christians. Job certainly found this hard and frustrating. They didn’t understand and could not help but in some way it was the fellowship with other believers that enabled him finally to have a vision of God. So as you are able keep coming to church and at a minimum keep fellowship with Christians.

6. Wait in hope – hopefully we all know how Job ends. Our Christian faith is about waiting in hope. All scripture is about waiting in hope. Whether that is for answered prayers, for help, for healing, for restoration. The resurrection of Jesus fills us with hope both for this age and the age to come. So keep on believing and hoping. Allow scripture to raise your faith and hope – ROMANS 15:4. Read Christian biographies and PRAY.

So if you are feeling depressed and hopeless. Take the step of talking to someone. And if you have no one find a local church, a local pastor and make contact. Feel free to message me and I may be able to put you in touch with someone.

Praying to day for all who are struggling with depression and mental health issues.

Dear Lord, I pray for all those who like Job have no peace, no quietness and no rest but only turmoil. I pray for those who feel depressed, oppressed or simply overwhelmed with life.

I pray that they may have courage to speak up, to be able to share with someone.

I pray for us who know someone struggling with their mental health that we will have the wisdom when to just sit with them, when to pray with them and when to offer advice.

I pray that no one may struggle alone. That we will be build a church community where all are welcomed and heard.

But I pray above all that they will have the courage to cry out to you in their darkness and know that although they may be walking in darkness the morning is coming, that though there may be tears in the night there will be comfort in the morning because the one who controls the wild animals, who gives boundaries to the chaos of the waters, who brings forth the treasures and power of the seasons is the God whose mercies are new every morning, whose very nature is faithfulness. So give them a vision of who you are that they may find strength from you to get through the night believing that the sun will rise in the morning with healing in its wings.

That all may acknowledge that all glory be to the only true God. The Father who comforts, the Son who saves and the Spirit who prays in our weakness. To Him be glory now and forever more.

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