I have recently finished reading Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray (the Kindle version). The overall thrust of the book is to correct the common idea amongst Christians that depression is caused by sin or a broken relationship with God and that taking antidepressants is to exhibit a lack of faith. Murray outlines the various factors which appear to contribute to depression and presses the point that for many people their depression has an organic, physiological cause.
David Murray also points out that the biblical counselling movement falls short in it’s common assumption that pharmaceutical treatments for depression are simply masking the real problem. While from a neurochemical perspective there is grounds for thinking that current drug treatments do not necessarily target the true physiological cause of depression, they certainly do have more than just a placebo effect.
Something I do appreciate is the author’s reassurance that for most Christians who are depressed being ‘unspiritual’ is not the main issue and that going overboard on reading the Bible and praying is unnecessary. In fact it may compound the problem by causing the person to get even more introspective when they would do better to get out and simply be around other people.
It is a fairly light read but an OK introduction to the topic. For all that, it is a good summary and I think pastors in particular would do well to read it.
This morning I prayed a prayer that God has already answered. This sounds a bit daft so let me explain, here is the prayer:
Produce in me self-despair that will
make Jesus precious to me,
delightful in all his offices,
pleasurable in all his ways,
and may I love his commands
as well as his promises
The Valley of Vision, p333)
This is part of a longer prayer which I was reading when the words “produce in me self-despair” arrested me – I know self-despair well, why would anyone ask God for it?
The rest of the line explains: to make Jesus precious to me.
I have been praying the same in reverse – I have self-despair, please give me hope in Christ.
Reading what some Puritan wrote hundreds of years ago opened my eyes to meaning within my depression. I have given up hope in myself, in the most desperate times all that remains is a plea to God. Jesus says, ask and I will give you eternal life (see John 4:10 & 14).
While I hate depression and do what I can to avoid the despair, this prayer gives me a glimpse of what may be God’s perspective on it. Despairing of hope from within, I seek Christ to be all for me.
Gifts I have noticed recently (#903 – #909):
903) The love of my children.
904) Fear and uncertainty holding me back from stupid choices.
905) My family who loves and needs me as I am.
906) The desire to write, even if I don’t know what.
907) Happy memories to cling to.
908) Encouragement from friends.
909) A few days off.