Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Why are so many Christians Depressed?

Depression, even among Christians, seems to be rampant today; it’s as if some kind of emotional black plague has crept into the Church.

I read several blog posts and articles every day, but last week was strange; virtually every day I found myself reading posts and articles written by or about Christians battling depression. But by far the most heart-wrenching news of last week (regarding the impact of depression on Christians) wasn’t found on a blog or in a news article; it was a phone call from a close friend telling us about a friend that had committed suicide.

The young man that committed suicide was named Jordan and he was a very talented artist and musician and, more importantly, he was a Christian. (You can see one of his music videos here and his testimony video here). From what he says in the testimony video, Jordan had battled depression for most of his life, but he seemed to be winning his battle. I don’t know what occurred in his life that caused the depression to come roaring back; maybe only God and Jordan know the answer to that question. But, as someone that believes he is called to offer hope to the hurting, I feel that I must learn more about the enemies of hope. Whatever else depression is, it definitely qualifies as one of the greatest enemies of hope!

As I suppose it is with most people that are diagnosed with a terminal disease or going through other difficult trials, I’ve experienced some difficult days of depression. I don’t remember the order or the full impact, but I imagine to some extent I went through all of the so-called “Five stages of grief” (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). But I find myself wondering what it must be like when the most difficult of those stages, depression, IS the trial, as it was with Jordan and it is with so many others.

Despite having every aspect of my life turned up-side-down by ALS, I know little about the kind of deep and dark depression that Jordan suffered from. But, I know from reading the Bible and from my own experience as a follower of Christ, that Christianity offers genuine lasting peace, hope and joy. I wouldn’t be wasting my time typing these posts if I wasn’t convinced of this. Peace, joy and hope are definitely great benefits of the Christian life, but that’s not the “Good News” message that Christ commanded us to preach – Jesus didn’t suffer and die just to make us happy – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15) Salvation is the good news.

depressed

I think this is an important fact because many “seeker friendly” churches preach a message of happiness and prosperity and, if Christians don’t feel happy and/or prosperous, they can feel un-Christian. I cannot help but wonder if the “feel good” gospel message might be exacerbating the feelings of depression among Christians.

The New Testament is an education in how to be Christ-like. But unfortunately this “Narrow path” includes trials and tribulation. My trial is ALS and for others it’s depression. As I said, I know little about that kind of oppressive depression, but I’ve concluded that it’s every bit as crippling to the soul as ALS is to the body.

I don’t feel qualified to offer spiritual advice to those suffering with this kind of depression, but I do have some general hope-building advice for Christians.

The early Christians “…were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching (reading the Bible…) and to fellowship (getting together with like-minded Christians), to the breaking of bread (church/taking communion) and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

One of my blogger friends has suffered from depression for many years. She told me that when she’s feeling depressed, she doesn’t feel like reading her Bible, going to church, getting together with people or praying. This is exactly why doing these things is so necessary. We must do the things our soul (mind, will and emotions) doesn’t “feel like doing” to build hope in our spirit – so our spirit can “preach” to our soul. The spiritual part of us preaching to the mind, will and emotions, isn’t some kind of spiritual schizophrenia; I see examples like the following throughout the Bible; “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.” (Psalm 42:11)

God also comforts us through other believers; I see examples of this throughout the Bible also. As you can see from reading verses like the following, even the Apostle Paul and the disciples dealt with depression; “…we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus…” (2 Corinthians 7:5-6)

Like most of you, I didn’t know Jordan, but, as you can imagine, his family is really grieving his loss so please pray for them – “…pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

267 thoughts on “Why are so many Christians Depressed?

Comment navigation

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Christians suffer depression when they don’t see the “Promises Of God” being fulfilled in their lives. When they struggle for everything. Joy is zapped right out of their lives. And attending church becomes a burden.

    • Thank you for your comments. I know there are several causes of depression, but I think you’ve definitely named one of the major causes.

    • I read this again today and you are so talented and have such an impact on so many. At the very least 200+ here. YOU have a profound ministry. I skipped church today and checking in here is my church! Thank you for always backing everything up with scripture. I just friend-ed your wife on Facebook and wanted you to know what an inspiration you guys are!

  2. It is so true, my depression was caused by other reason, but there are so many out there that do not recognise the symptoms. Great post and glad I found it.

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Trusting God is hard for us to do. I may ask God for help, but usually it’s after I’ve already made a mess of things. Or else, I didn’t think the little problem was worth His attention and it got out of hand before I trusted it to God. This brought to mind my own difficulties with depression, so I’ll do a blog on that soon.

  4. Reblogged this on The End Game Counts and commented:
    Suicidal depression … the invisible killer.

  5. Michelle Watts on said:

    Dear Bill,
    Today Becky shared the blog you wrote about our son, Jordan, and his struggle with depression. I just now had a chance to read it. Thank you so much for bringing awareness to the “plague” of depression. You expressed it so well when you said, “…it’s as crippling to the mind as ALS is to the body.” Jordan knew the truth and hope of God’s love, but the disease IS crippling…and satan seeks to destroy us in any way he can. I am thankful that Jesus paid the price for us, so one day we can all be free from whatever it is that “cripples” us.
    I have read many of your posts, and am so inspired by your courage, strength, and faith. I have also prayed for you and your family.
    May you be richly blessed for ministering to us and sharing Jordan’s story of hope and ultimate victory over depression and death. He IS alive, and whole!
    Blessings,
    Michelle

    • Michelle,
      thank you so much for your inspiring message of hope. I never had the opportunity to meet Jordan, but I mourned his passing as if he was a long-time friend (Becky has a way of bringing people together like that). I think about him often and when I think of him, I pray that God would continue to comfort you and all of those that loved and miss him. For me, Jordan is the face of a Christian suffering with depression. I look forward to meeting him in heaven.
      God bless you, Michelle.

  6. You are always an encouragement to me, Bill, as well as an inspiration. I am truly grateful you would take the time to visit my blog — not to mention write these profound posts of yours. I can return to them again and again , yet still find new insights. Blessings Always, A.

  7. Love your great post. It cause me to really think more about the enemies of “Hope.” Keep up the awesome work of encouraging other, as well as, giving them hope. God bless.

  8. Bill:

    I recently completed the 1st draft of my non-fiction manuscript. My wife is currently in the process of proof reading the material. From there she will write her very own chapter.

    The writing of my book has been a “life-review” process. As much as it is my testimony about the Lord who intervenes, rescues and redeems! The former unintentional. The later intentional. Either way, Father knows best.

    Glen

  9. Bill: As a writer myself, I very much appreciate the title of this post: “Why are so many Christians depressed?”

    I certainly do not know the answer to the question. However, I did ask myself why wouldn’t any number of Christians experience depression in their lifetime?

    I can only truly speak to my own experience. I’m a three time, 26 year cancer survivor living with the late-effects (disease and chronic illnesses) from radiation therapy. I’ve battled with depression on and off since 1989. My coping or management strategies include: Bible study, prayer, fellowship, weekly dates with my wife, time with kids & grandchild, writing and cognitive therapy. Also learning to live in the now, even in the moment has helped to curb or even quiet anxiety.

    Here are two passages I cling to:

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

    A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
    (Isaiah 42:3)

    Regards, Glen

    • Thank you for your valuable input, Glen.
      Your coping strategies are great. I really like that you’re intentional, as if you’re coping strategies are medicine, which they really are.

      • Bill:

        I was inspired to read “I really like that you’re intentional, as if you’re coping strategies are medicine, which they really are.”

        Your comment served as a reminder for me that it is God who has taught and continues to teach me to take intentional steps to overcome in Christ daily.

        Regards, Glen

      • So true, Glen. Being intentional is so important because the last thing that people suffering from depression want to do is the intentional stuff. We must commit to doing the things that help and not doing the things that hurt regardless of how we feel.

Comment navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: