The Pointers: by Pastor Troy DeFeo
January 12th, 2019
Should Christians ever struggle with depression?
The short answer: yes they do.
“….Darkness is my closest friend.” Ps. 88:18
We see it throughout Scriptures. In the words of the Psalmists, the prophets, and the apostles of the New Testament.
If there is hell on earth, it is found in diseases and depression on a daily basis. Consider the following depression-driven quote:
So, what does it mean if you’re a Christian and you struggle with depression? It means you’re absolutely normal. Usually, when you are depressed you do not feel normal though and that is hard to understand and accept. Obviously, there are varying degrees of depression ranging from the “common blues,” to clinical depression, requiring medication, counseling, or both. But, most, if not all, will at some time in their life, struggle with some form of depression. Make no mistake—mankind asked for this “enemy” when we, in essence, told God to shove off and leave us alone in Eden (or perhaps now.) Sin is an ugly disease. It rips people to pieces with abuse, divorce, painful remarks, physical altercations, and of course death. Each of these causes major stress and without proper coping skills, it can lead to depression.
Joseph told his very brothers, who sold him into Egyptian slavery (they originally wanted to murder him), “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 5:20 NLT Those words spoken by Joseph thousands of years ago are as true today as they were when Joseph said them. Nothing can stop Almighty God from using this fallen world (which we’re stuck for the moment) for His purpose and glory.
If you struggle with depression, do not work through it alone. Humble yourself, seek guidance from someone you trust, and go see a doctor or professional counselor immediately. What is the worse thing that could happen if you do? Most Christians (and non-believers) will often not do this because they do not want to look weak, embarrassed someone may find out they do not have it all together, or because they do not want to be on meds (which internally say there must be something wrong with you.)
How do you know if you are depressed?
Not all are guaranteed signs, but big flags: Missing work or school a lot; sleeping more than usual or not not sleeping as much as required, thoughts of suicide, crying more than usual; not eating or overeating; wanting to be left alone; shutting down or lying about how you truly feel; not caring for your spouse or children; falling away from church; over medicating.
4 Things NOT to say to someone with Depression:
“I know how you feel” - It is almost impossible to convey to a person who has not had depression what it is like. Even if you were depressed before, your depression may have been about something entirely different that has totally different coping skills or counseling intervention. Just be there. Sometimes it is best to just stay quiet and listen and care.
“Suck it up/ Cheer up, it will get better; it’s just a phase”- If you do not get smacked in the mouth, think of that as a miracle if you say these words. No one will want to ever hear that. That is insensitive and absolutely foolish for a spouse, parent or a friend to say that to someone they know. Depression is very debilitating and if medications are needed, then obviously they need professional help. You say this maybe if they lost the game against you in Ping Pong and they were sulking about it. That may be about it.
“It’s all in your head” - Be very careful not to be unmindful of the unseen and often inexpressible sufferings of others. It is not just in their head, but it is in their heart too; the person is feeling so much pain that they wish it would just stop. I have personally had heartbreak like most of you, from losing loved ones to death, friends moving away, and even a girlfriend who broke up with me after 3 years of dating. That is not just in my head! My heart was about to come out of my chest. It takes time, sometimes a long time, before your heart can mend and work through all the pain.
“Just think- there are others who have it worse than you do” - While you may be trying hard to put things into perspective for your five-year-old to eat their broccoli for supper, people dealing with depression will not be responsive to that heartless talk. You never should compare anyone to anyone—— ever—— never! It never matters. It will never help. It is not like they will say, “Oh, I see your point. I did not know your mom was an alcoholic and way worse than me. I guess I will stop now.” Be smart about what you say, or do not say anything.
Just be there for the person. Often times you will not have the right words. Being there is essential. Matter of fact, take it as an honor they will let you be around them. Many depressed people want to be left alone. If you can get them talking on their own—- that is a trusting great start. Don’t push too hard. Give them some space. Small talk at first, then see what happens from there.
They still may not want to see a counselor, go to the doctor, or get help with a professional—- so watch things closely. I have known people who have killed themselves, over medicated, shut themselves in their room and houses for days—-and all ended up really bad or dead. I mean a countless amount of people of all ages.
If all possible- if you know of someone depressed. Just watch them closely. if they are planning harm to themselves, you must call 911 or take them to get professional help at a hospital. One, it is the law. Two, it is morally the right things to do and the guilt of not getting them help and they end up doing something, well…you do not want that on your shoulders.
Also, get rid of any firearms in the house. Watch any loose medications that someone can overdose on. Look for any changes around the home with ropes, knives, gasoline, or even long exhaust hoses for their car. Unfortunately, I have known people who have or tried killing themselves in all facets. Pray, seek help, and be there! What would you want, or not want?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.