I have mixed feelings about doing this particular post. I have not suffered from depression, so my experience of this is from the point of view of a friend/family member of a sufferer. So my aim has mainly been to work out how to educate non-sufferers about depression so they can support their friends. I think part of doing that is to talk about particular challenges that Christian sufferers face and I think this is a really important part of any discussion on depression. So while I feel completely inadequate to talk about this I will do the best I can and pray that it is helpful to at least one person.
Challenges for Christians with Depression
1. The ‘hope’ conflict
The Christians experience is about hope (Colossians 1:23). And yet at the heart of depression is the lose of hope. The good news is that the hope we have is not dependent on how we feel. It is about God’s faithfulness – and that doesn’t change. (1 Corinthians 1:9). So the challenge for Christian’s is to hold onto that hope, even when all you feel is hopelessness.
2. The isolation temptation
There is a strong temptation when we are feeling down, to want to be on our own. Depression is no exception to this. I have seen many people who fall into this temptation and cut themselves off from everyone around them. I think this is a temptation that we need to avoid. Hebrews 10:25 says that we should not give up meeting together, instead we should encourage one another. When you don’t feel like seeing other people is when it is especially important to have your Christians brothers and sisters around you. They will encourage you and love you but more importantly they will remind you of God’s love and faithfulness.
3. The nagging questions
Who is God? Where is he? A lose of hope will naturally lead to questioning who God is. Although its hard, its important to hold onto the reality that God knows us and loves us (Psalm 139:13 – 16), even when we are at our most unloveable. Don’t be tempted to think that God can’t take your depression away – he can (& he does) and only he knows why he hasn’t yet. Be reassured that it is God who will give you strength to get through anything (Philippians 4:13).
They are three big challenges. I think its important to say that there is a way you can serve and love your family and friends through all this and that is by doing everything you can to get better. See a doctor. Follow the advice they give you – they know what they are talking about. That is the best thing you can do for the people you love and for yourself.
Next: How to care for your friends/family with depression
Lifeline Australia (24 hr hotline – 13 11 14)
More from me on depression here.