Psalm 143 was written by David when he was in trouble. In reading it you get the distinct impression that he may have been depressed. It’s in this state that He prays this very personal prayer. While he was seeking deliverance, his greatest desire is for God's direction and guidance.
Depression - a state of feeling sad; a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way
In a church of 100 people, 20 people will likely experience depression or an anxiety disorder at some stage in their life. If you are in a church of that size, there are probably 5-10 people struggling with depression right now. If you add in the family, friends, and employers of sufferers, something approaching 25% of an average congregation will be impacted to some degree. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the US among people aged 15-44, with suicide being the second leading cause of death in the same age group.
The church has a problem talking about depression because we somehow believe that Christians should not get depressed and talking about it can be uncomfortable because we don’t know a lot about it.
Because there has been a prohibition of talking about certain things or not expressing our feelings when we are hurting in certain areas is like “putting lipstick on a pi”, so to speak. We are masking how we sometimes hurt so we don’t get help. Some old time preachers and old time mothers talked about the church being a hospital... well if you can’t talk about your sickness what kind of hospital is it. Is it only one that deals with the common cold or a stubbed toe and not anxiety, depression, or suicide?
If you can’t bring your deepest problems to the church because you are afraid of what others may say where people have to pretend that “..there lives are picture-perfect”. There are two problems that result. 1) the issues or problems will sooner or later come out and either they will result in gossip or the leadership will tell them not to come back until the problem is handled or 2) then can’t take the pressure of trying to put up a false face for the church so they drop out.
Warning signs that you may be headed for depression and a crash;
- An Unrealistic Pace (See my posts on Burnout)
- Unrealistic Expectations of Others
- An Unrealistic View on Life
- An Unrealistic Desire to Be Liked by Everyone
You’ll be tempted to give up. Please don’t. Open your Bible. Talk to God. Share about your hurt with someone. Seek help. Place yourself in a position to be found by hope. Weeping comes. But so does joy. Darkness comes, but so does the morning. Sadness comes, but so does hope. Sorrow may have the night, but it cannot have our life.
Four suggestions that can help get off the collision course toward depression and a crash;
- Denial Doesn’t Help It Hurts.
- We can’t do life alone
- We Must Address What’s Broken on the Inside of Us
- Psalm 143
God never criticizes people suffering with depression in the Bible, indeed he does the opposite; he comforts them and meets their needs. Dealing with emotional pain is not self-indulgent, any more than dealing with physical pain is. We all need to offer and receive the comfort of God without qualification: that's grace!