John Lockley writes, “Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.” (p. 6-7)
Four reasons why I like “Christians Get Depressed Too” by David Murray.
- The book is short (112 pages). Not everyone loves to read long books and I believe this is especially true for a person who is struggling with depression.
- The book helps to dispel the foolish notion that mature Christians don’t ever feel depressed. “My choice of title, Christians get depressed Too, is intended too oppose and correct a very common response to Christians suffering from depression: “But Christians don’t get depressed!” How many times have you thought that, said that, or heard that? How many times have Christian pastors and counselors made this claim, or at least implied it? If it is true that Christians don’t get depressed, it must mean either that the Christian suffering from depression is not truly depressed, or he is not a Christian. But if this notion is false, what extra and unnecessary pain and guilt are heaped upon an already darkened mind and broken heart!” (preface)
- The book is balanced in its approach as to what causes depression. “There are three simplistic approaches that we should avoid when considering the cause of depression: first, that it is all physical; second, that it is all spiritual; third that it is all mental.” (p. 13) During my years in pastoral ministry I have run into people who only have one answer or solution for depression. This approach usually does more harm than good. As the old saying goes, “If the only tool you have is a hammer then you treat everything like a nail.”
- The book is biblical. Murray is continually building everything he writes on the Word of God. There are constant references to Scripture on early every page. For example, one cause of depression can be wrong thinking. We think and believe things about our life and the world around us that don’t align with what is taught in Scripture. On pages 74-77 Murray asks his readers to write down their thoughts and then to examine them based on what we know to be true about God in His Word.
- An additional benefit of having some knowledge about depression is that it will prevent the dangerous and damaging misunderstanding that often leads people, especially Christians, to view medication as a rejection of God and His grace rather than a provision of God and his grace. (p. 6)
- However, the general rule is that those who listen most and speak least will be the most useful to sufferers. (p.6)
- The spiritual reason, and one that I am most concerned about, is that many who have the symptoms of depression, without identifying them as such, reason, “If I have these thoughts and feelings, I cannot be a Christian!” My aim in this chapter is to not only outline the symptoms, but also to show from Scripture that such symptoms are not only compatible with being a Christian but are also found in some of the most eminent Bible characters. (p.32)
- The general rule is to listen much and to speak little. The following is a helpful list of what not to say: (to a person struggling with depression)
- Pull yourself together
- But you’ve got nothing to be sad about.
- Don’t get so emotional.
- Oh, you’ll get over it soon.
- It’s a sin to be depressed.
- Just believe the promises.
- Smile, it can’t be that bad.
- Well, things could be worse.
- At least it’s nothing serious.
- You should confess your sins.
- You are not still on medication, are you? (p. 98)
At New Life we plan on offering a class on depression in March. In no way am I under the delusion that one class will fix a person who is dealing with depression. I know full well that it just does not work like that. Here are a few reasons I want to offer this class. First, to point people in the right direction who are feeling depressed. Second, I want to dispel the idea that depression is a topic that is off limits in the church. We are all broken and the church must be a safe place to admit it! Third, to equip people to know how to minister to those who are dealing with depression.