Thoughts on depression & faith

The other day my sister and I stood in the kitchen and discussed the issue of mental illness and depression, specifically for Christians. It was sparked by my curiosity of how to love and support someone who consistently struggles with depression. Do you ask how they are doing when you see them? Or do you pretend like nothing happened and wait for them to bring it up? I want to be intentional but sensitive at the same time.

That led our discussion to the tension between depression and faith. I loved that she engaged with me in this conversation because I value her opinion greatly.

I used to have a strong zealous position against using medicine for depression because I believed that God could heal without it. The ironic thing is that I would take medicine for a headache even though I believed God could heal without it. Plus, I probably could have benefitted from some pills that would balance out my emotions. My emotions can sky rocket one moment and then sink the next.

Through experiences of my own and those of people close to me, I have seen how God uses medicine for his glory and to bring health to our bodies and our minds. I think we are too quick to pick one or the other, God or medicine. Why can’t it be ‘both, and’ instead of ‘either, or’?

My sister brought some wisdom in saying that sometimes we need help to hear God and medicine can help remove those blocks. I agreed but was also reminded of a famous quote from St. Augustine:

“You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

There have been times when God met me in the lowest places. Times when I could not even pull myself onto his lap, and he came to my weakest, most vulnerable state. There have been times when a counselor gave me tools to better hear God’s voice and remove blocks.

God can and does use medicine to heal his children but it is he who breaks through our deafness. It is he who dispels our blindness. The one who created our ears to hear, knows how to cause us to hear.

Depression and mental illness suck. I hate that people have to endure such pain and torment in their mind. If medicine helps your mind, please take it just like you would take any treatment for a physical illness. But at the same time, don’t put all your trust in medicine. It is a tool in the Lord’s hand and he is your deliverer and your peace.

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