Well, that title should get some people to click. No, it wasn’t just a clever title, designed to irritate faithful charismatic or prosperity minded believers. It wasn’t just a title that will attract some of those who oppose the faith to join in on heated discussions between believers about if God does, can or will actually bless someone with depression.
photo credit tmsaugusta.com
Let’s go back. When I first started into ministry as an adult professional, first as a college ministry director and then in a church staff role, I was given several opportunities to help people with depression and/or anxiety. The problem was, I didn’t understand it or have clear thinking on the matter.
When it came to depression or anxiety I felt that I was too strong for such a thing to happen to me. I was an ex-college wrestler who was now a believer in Christ and living my life under greater power and discipline because of the work of Holy Spirit in my life. Here is some context, to understand my mindset. I was told about fasting, and I assumed many more believers actually practiced it because Jesus said, “When you fast …….. (Matthew 6:16). ” It only makes sense that I would fast. I was told in church that Christians read their bible. Because I heard this, I assumed they did. “I better be in the Word everyday, ” I thought. After reading it for awhile and getting around other believers my age, I started to realize many of the believers I knew had been around it all their life, but probably didn’t read it much. I actually started making up Bible quotes to see if anyone would correct me. Most of the time no one did.
Eventually, I was hit with some personal life challenges and the peace I had grown accustomed to in my life was absent. When I looked to the scriptures that I loved and I couldn’t focus long enough to absorb any of the words on the page, I was forced to come to terms with depression as a real thing, not just for others, but a reality I am susceptible to. Not only that, it had invaded my soul and seemed to be claiming ownership.
Before that time I would have told you that it is difficult for a true believer in Christ to be suicidal. I wasn’t suicidal, but the idea was no longer a distant country, it had become a neighbor. The truth is we are all fragile and our ability to handle everything on our own is an illusion. You might read this and think, not for me. I am warning you do not harbor that idea in your heart, because you might receive a blessing too. You also may read this and feel relieved. No, if your struggling with depression or anxiety you are not weird, weak or lesser of a person. But, God doesn’t want you to stay there. He has called you to fight.
I was blessed with parents, coaches and people in my life who valued working hard and setting goals. I had big dreams and a western PA work ethic mixed with a lot of hope that anything can be accomplished.
So, my framework when it came to depression or anxiety was very simple. Some people are not as tough as me. Some people can’t process life as well as me, so they need help, but me, I am good. Obviously there are many problems with this type of false theology.
I trusted in my own will as an idol. I trusted in my own ability. I disregarded that the flesh is weak, but I needed God’s power. I was giving myself a lot of credit, when God provided me with a great support structure, healthy family and millions of other blessings that made my life easier. I also assumed that there was something more wrong with others, and more right with me. You also can see how destructive this can be in regards to someone in a position that is supposed to be empathetic and helpful towards the needs of others.
Also, the Gospel is a communal type of message. James the half brother of Jesus tells us that, we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2). What is a problem for one believer, may not be a problem for another and vice -versa. We are tempted in different ways, maybe even in ways that are specific to us. That is why we need to approach other brothers and sisters in Christ with empathy as we bear one another’s burdens.
When life hit me hard and I was forced to evaluate my life on all fronts. I was forced to be honest about my own frailties. I needed to be honest about my need for a Savior and true transformational community around me. You are not tough by avoiding getting treated or counseling. You are actually doing something that is dangerous and risky. You need people in your life to help you along, tell you the truth and pray you through. You need a Savior who isn’t just an emotional moment or a wish granter, but a warrior and a finisher.
Today I just want to encourage you to take the first step. Often times, we as people are ashamed and don’t want to take the first step. We don’t want to seek out help. You must at least find one friend. Find one person who you can talk to, who will pray for you and who will be there when you feel like the bottom is falling out. You need one person who you can be honest with. That one person is your first step today. Next week we will dig deeper into some of the finer points of what it looks like to win against depression.
Feel free to comment or message me privately. We will pick this same discussion up in a follow-up post next week.
There are 260 chapters in the New Testament. You go to work 5 days a week. There are 52 weeks in a year. 52 X 5 = 260. This year, Take the Challenge! Change your life!
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