Truth, Lies, and Lions: Christians and Depression
Written by: Lynsey Bock
Following the tragic suicide of Robin Williams back in August, the usually taboo topics of depression and suicide suddenly became fodder for the best and worst of Internet commentary. Many contemplated the answer to a question that haunts all whose lives are touched by depression and suicide: “How did this happen?”
Others, including one infamous Christian blogger, ultimately attributed the comedian’s demise to a bad decision. Many commenters even went so far as to suggest that depression (and ultimately, suicide) is just a symptom of unconfessed sin, an ailing spiritual life, and a lack of faith.
Christians who grapple with depression are in good company with some big names from the Bible, including Job, Elijah, Jonah, Solomon, and David. Every one of these men grappled with hopelessness, and a few even to the point of suicidal thoughts:
Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live (Jonah 4:3).
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
When we know that a fellow Christian is becoming overwhelmed by Satan’s lies, it’s not our job to speculate about why that person has succumbed. Instead, it is our job to take a stand with our struggling brothers and sisters in Christ and help fend off the lion; we must help protect God’s family from all attacks.
So, what are the weapons that we have to fight this battle?
Fellowship: Depression festers in isolation. People who are depressed will naturally withdraw from those around them because of shame or fear. If you know or suspect that someone you care about is depressed, reach out to them and be near to them. Whether that means offering a sympathetic ear, or merely sitting in silence, God can use your presence to provide comfort in a trying time.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
Prayer: A depressed Christian may feel so discouraged that they aren’t able to pray for themselves. They may feel that God doesn’t want to hear from them, or that their prayers won’t make a difference. Your prayers can help guard them when they are unable to ask for protection for themselves. Pray for this person independently and with them when you spend time together. For many people, just knowing that someone cares enough to pray with them and for them will be a strong encouragement.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).
Truth: As it was in my case, depressed individuals may have a difficult time distinguishing truths from Satan’s lies. Take every opportunity you can to encourage them with God’s Word. Shower them with God’s promises, even if they are unable to fully appreciate them at the time. Be lovingly persistent, and continue to be faithful in prayer.
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17).
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
“4 Myths Christians Need to Stop Believing About Depression” By Debra K Fileta of Relevant Magazine
“What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide & Mental Health” by Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience
“Robin Williams’ Death an Opportunity to Look at Depression in the Scriptures” by Matt Lawrenz of Bible Gateway