On The Journey, Judy Bowman
Depression and Christian faith
Some nights you don’t sleep at all. And on other days, you can’t get out of bed. You don’t feel like eating anything, or maybe you eat everything in the house. The things that you used to enjoy seem lifeless to you now. You can’t focus, you can’t get started, you’ve lost all your energy to do anything at all. Sometimes you cry and other times you yell. Little things can set you off. So you stay in your room with the curtains drawn. It feels like hell. It’s depression.
This is more than “the blues” that all of us experience from time to time. Depression is a chronic physical and emotional disease that can lead to job loss, family dissolution, substance abuse, and suicide. Yet even now, after decades of study and treatment, many people remain ashamed of having depression. They try their best to hide it from their family and friends for as long as they can. They don’t want to admit that they need help. And sometimes Christians can be the worst at this. We think our faith should somehow protect us from psychological problems. Like the rest of our culture, we don’t want to seek help for depression. If we’re filled with the joy of our faith, how can we depressed? Well, I’ve got news for you, Christians are just as susceptible to depression as anyone else. Does our faith protect us from cancer or diabetes or heart disease? Then why should we believe that Christians can’t be depressed? The Bible gives us plenty of examples of folks who struggled with it. Moses, Elijah, David, Job, and Naomi all suffered emotional pain and depression, for a variety of reasons. Psalm 42 is a great example of someone struggling mightily with his faith and feelings of desolation, loneliness, abandonment, and despair.
Among the great saints, several were plagued by depression throughout some or most of their lives. These are people like us who were able to persevere through trials and sufferings with heroic faith and virtue. Yet some also had to fight depression every day. One of my favorites is St. Noel Chabanel who worked with the Huron Indians in Ontario, Canada during the 16th century. As a Jesuit missionary, Fr. Chabanel worked closely with the Hurons each day in the school and village. And he hated it. He disliked the natives, their culture, and their habits. He struggled just to be around them. He became very depressed. But he renewed his promise to stay with them for the rest of his life. He kept his vow and persevered until he died at the hands at one of the Huron men when he was just 36 years old. He offered the Lord his life of suffering and sadness and, in return, God gave him a martyr’s crown.
Depression can be a kind of martyrdom. Just as any affliction can aid in our holiness if we give to our Savior. God never wastes any opportunity to draw us closer to Himself. Even in the midst of a dark depression, Christians can be assured that our Lord is with them. There’s nothing shameful about being depressed and nothing “un-Christian” about seeking help for it when you need it. Also, be aware of the people in your life and help them if they show signs of serious, lasting depression. Your concern could be exactly what they need but might not be able to ask for. We’re in this life together and we owe one another our kindness and compassion. We haven’t yet become so divided that we don’t still know how to care for one another. Suffering and sadness are both a part of life in this broken world, but we are all members of one body and when one of us hurts, we all do. Be kind.
“Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.” — Colossians 1:24
Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
Pleasant Valley Baptist extends a. warm, special invitation for you to worship with us each and every week.
Pleasant Valley Baptist is having in-person Sunday morning services. Wednesday Bible study will continue to be available on Facebook. The spread of the Delta variant has greatly subsided in our immediate area for which we are grateful. Continue to act wisely and be safe.
Pleasant Valley Baptist will be having Trunk or Treat for the kiddos, October 30, 5-8 pm with food served at 5 pm. Bring the kids and join in the fall festivities. Costumes are encouraged to be honoring to Christian values.
Pleasant Valley Baptist will be recognizing and celebrating all Veterans on November 14, 10:30 am. All veterans are extended a special invitation to this service. Come and worship the Lord and honor all who have served our nation. Spend the day with us and stay for dinner after morning service. Special guest speaker will be Sgt. James Bode, Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient.
Pray for our country and the grave situations we face at home and around the world. Pray for God’s mercy, wisdom, and help. Pray for our President and leaders. America, our country, we are seeing the results of choosing to turn away from God, the principle of reaping what has been sown. Our hope is God and as a nation we must repent. America, indeed the world, needs for God to send revival. Revival begins with the response of each individual, you and I. Consider your relationship with God and respond accordingly. Pray for souls to be saved. The Bible says the judgment of sin is death and Christ died for all. Whosoever will repent and receive Christ will be saved. Pray confessing your sin, by faith accept Jesus’ finished work of grace on the cross as payment for your sin. Whosoever will, will be saved. Not almost saved, but completely. Substitute your name in the place of whosoever, today!
Continue to pray for the needs of members Wyondia Hill, Julie McCurdy, Mike Cross, Denise Pitts, Betty Pitts, Larry Armstrong, Pastor and his family, myself, Glenda Smiley and all who need our prayers. Pray for Dot McAllister, and our shut-in Lula Petty, health needs. Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelist.
Join us Sunday mornings at 11 am and evenings 6 pm for in-person services. Sunday services are available on Facebook and YouTube with Wednesday Bible study on Facebook at 7 pm.