“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” Proverbs 20:24
Depression is real. It is many times a disease that frustrates loved ones as much as the person afflicted. The Christian community has often shied away from sharing their pain for fear that their faith would be questioned. Many try to mask their feelings of despair with unnatural gaity and busyness only to deepen their pit of helplessness. My friends, depression is real. And it is not always manageable only by faith.
Depression is defined as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” There are many causes for these feelings, both internal and external. So many people have sunk deeper into their hopelessness by listening to well wishers who cite scriptures encouraging them to just “let go and let God.” Others are told that it is a spirit that must be cast out by prayer and reliance on God. And when that fails, and the person still feels that weight on them, they sink even further under the sodden blanket of sadness. Don’t get me wrong, I know without doubt that prayer and fasting and belief in the ultimate sovereignty of God is critical to all life. And for some people, that is all they need. But we live in a broken down world where pain happens and we are sometimes faced with illness and situations that require treatment and counseling over and beyond blind faith.
If we have turned our lives over to God, completely and utterly trusting in Him, then our steps are ordered by God. Sometimes those steps are obscure and we have to really focus on the path in order to clearly see that we are following Him and not the advice of the world. God will direct our steps as we walk with Him whether through depression or other illness, health; financial woes, times of wealth; sadness, or happiness. God walks with us every step of the way and will direct us to the path we need to take, all the while helping us to see his Hand in action.
Depression is rampant in our family. It was evident in my husband, his Grandmother, his Mother and, now, our daughter. I have had periods of despondency when tragedy strikes our family, and I have fibromyalgia which causes depression along with the pain. But I have never experienced what I see in my beloved hubby and child. They have struggled with questions of “Why?” Knowing they were children of God, trying to rely only on Him, and crying out when their faith did not seem to be enough. Let me tell you, the world will break you if you let it, and that includes well meaning Christians who have a misguided belief that taking medication is a sign of lack of faith.
I like the way Billy Graham put it when asked about depression and faith, this is from Answers on January 9, 2017;
Q: Is it a sin to be depressed? The doctor says I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that he can treat with medication, but a friend of mine says I shouldn’t do this because I just need to pray and have more faith. Who is right? I can’t stand this much longer.
A: (Billy Graham) Let me ask you a question: If you broke your arm in an accident, do you think your friend would claim it was a sin for you to have a broken arm, and all you needed to do was pray? I doubt it. Neither is it a sin for you to seek treatment for a chemical imbalance in your brain. The Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)–and it’s true: Our bodies and minds are very complex. Although doctors can’t solve all our problems, we should be grateful that God has enabled them to understand more about our bodies and minds, and has given them new ways to overcome many of our problems. Don’t feel that you are somehow sinning by seeking treatment for your depression; it would be wrong for you not to seek treatment.
I sound like a broken record, but I have realized that, depression is real. It is a disease that is treatable just as any other disease. I know that someone out there needs to hear this. Please, walk with God daily and let Him direct your steps. Be open to that path leading you to medication that can help. Don’t let the world add to the sense of hopelessness.
You are in my prayers today,