The pit was dark and it encompassed me. When I made an effort to climb out, I couldn’t find anything on which to grip and I’d slide back down, landing in a crumpled heap in the enveloping blackness. No, it wasn’t a physical pit. It was an emotional one. And I stayed there for a couple of weeks. The first time it happened, I didn’t understand. I was a Christian! I was fully aware of God’s amazing sacrifice for my sinful self and what that means for me. And not only that– I was so blessed. I had every physical need met, my kids were doing well, my husband loves me, my family was in good health. I had NO RIGHT to be depressed. And, yet, here I was. Stuck in a pit so deep I was finding it hard to make my way out.
I had to ask the question: Is it okay for a Christian to be depressed?
I have been thinking about this since that first happened to me. And I have come to the conclusion that the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. In my case, I learned that it had to do with my hormones. When it happened the second time I wasn’t quite as taken unawares and could remind myself that it will end. Some people aren’t quite so fortunate and battle against this for weeks…months…even years. For some, it is the symptom of hurt from long ago buried deep within the mind. It could also be the outcome of unrepented sin. While I don’t have a high opinion of human psychology (and this was one of my majors in college so I know quite a bit about this particular subject), I do believe there is a place for solid biblical counseling. For others, there may be a medical issue. Why would’t our brains have some legitimate problems, just like our hearts, our stomachs, and our kidneys?
I don’t claim to have the answer to this question. I believe it is so multi-faceted that it needs to be answered on a case by case basis. In my case, I believe God is using these times to shape me and mold me, teaching me to turn to Him in those dark moments and to control my thought life. Many of you can’t understand this, but controlling my thought life in those times is like moving a rock that weighs a million tons. And so I can see how God is using these times to make me more mature spiritually.
But let’s move beyond the original question.
Let’s move on to the lack of compassion many of us Christians have for our fellow brothers and sisters that find themselves in this dark pit of depression. Many of us stand back and criticize those who are in this battle. We are like schoolchildren, making fun of something we don’t understand. Instead of coming alongside and supporting them, we stand back and point fingers and gossip.
This is not right.
As believers, we are to weep with those that weep (Romans 12:15). We are to encourage one another (I Thessalonians 5:11). Look, sometimes we can see that the suffering person truly does need to work through some sin or past hurt in their life. They may even need genuine salvation. There is a place for loving confrontation. My point is this: there is never a place for judgment and a critical heart towards those that suffer with this incomprehensible condition.
Until it happened to me, I was one of those. I would think: Just snap out of it, for goodness’ sake. I wouldn’t say it. I would just think it. I didn’t get it.
And then I fell into the pit myself.
All of a sudden that is what my family members were saying to me. Snap out of it. You don’t have anything to be depressed about.
They weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.
This topic is sticky. So sticky. There is sin involved…sometimes. But sometimes it is truly hormonal or medical. May I encourage all of us to come alongside and encourage and pray for our brothers and sisters that find themselves fighting depression, rather than pointing fingers and gossiping about something we have a hard time understanding? Life is hard. We need each others’ support, no matter what battle the Lord allows in our lives.