Will God Get You Out Of Your Depression
Religion can help or harm your mental health, depending on your denomination.
Some may recognize this line from the widely popular “Footprints in the Sand,” the poem that describes how, during the hardest parts of life, God carried the author through hard times.
Believers like Laverne Williams, a one-time depression patient and deaconess at Union Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J., identify with this parable. She says her religion was an invaluable resource during her depression.
“My faith really got me through because I knew it would pass,” she said.
However, some people with mental illness have found their faith causes more pain than peace.
“I had no idea what was happening to me, I had all the signs of major depression,” said Susan Gregg-Schroeder, a United Methodist minister and coordinator of Mental Health Ministries. “There is a huge stigma against mental health in our faith communities.”
Religion, it seems, can act as a double-edged sword when it comes to mental health.
“Religion can amplify things, both positively and negatively,” said Brother Larry Whitney, university chaplain for community life at Boston University. “It’s not religion it’s the misuse of religion that creates a negative reaction.”
Belief vs. Relief
Being punished by your religious leader for an unavoidable disorder sounds bad enough yet it’s often compounded with tacit warnings against leaving the condemning sect.
A Blessing for the Brain
You Do Not Know What Kind Of Spirit You Are Of For The Son Of Man Did Not Come To Destroy Men’s Lives But To Save Them
This is what Jesus said to his disciples, James and John, after a Samaritan village refused to welcome Jesus. The tension, and even hate, with the Samaritans is centuries old. The hate and division were ingrained into the everyday culture. The Jews regarded the Samaritans as dogs and half-breeds and despised them for only accepting the Pentateuch as the law and rejecting any other Old Testament book. So, when the Samaritans refused Jesus, with ingrained bias and hate, you can see why James and Johns were infuriated and believed that the Samaritans deserved to be consumed by Gods wrathful justice . All they needed was for Jesus to give them authority to act out Gods justice – anger, wrath, and revenge.
“Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them.”
However, the biblical narrative is more about restoration, not revenge or punishment.
An interesting story in Luke 9 .
So, how does this relate to depression and anxiety, or any mental or emotional pain?
Your Friends And Family Can Help You
When I was at one of my really low points of depression, I remember a friend telling me that she and another friend were going to come over and clean my apartment. I was hesitant but reluctantly agreed. She knew that I should not be isolating myself and that the chaos around me was not helping my mental health.
Even after they left, the clean, organized space was a reminder that there were people who loved me and cared for me. When my depression tried to tell me I was alone and unloved, there was a physical reminder that that was not true.
If friends send you cards or pictures, hang them in places you can see them so they can be physical reminders of the people who love you.
People often feel at a loss to know how they can support loved ones with depression. One thing anyone can do is pray. Ask friends and family members to pray for God to give you hope and wisdom as you seek treatment and healing. While prayer alone usually is not enough to end someones depression, prayer is still powerful and important. God hears and cares.
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I Love Jesus But I Want To Die: What You Need To Know About Suicide
I was in California on a business trip, just yards from the beach, eating ice cream and laughing as the conversation drifted away from business. Eventually, somebody mentioned a friend-of-a-friend who had died by suicide.
The familiar ache and nausea filled my chest. My insides rattled when my coworker said he didnt understand what would make someone feel like taking their life was the only option.
I swallowed hard and let out the breath Id been holding. I do. For the first time in my life, I spoke up. I completely get that. Ive been there.
My coworkers stared, jaws dangling in breathless shock. Finally, someone asked what its like to want to die. So I told them about the physical pain, the exhaustion, the heaviness. I told them its like dying of a terrible disease and wishing I could hurry it up, knowing things would only get worse.
The last two weeks have brought news of too many people wanting to die. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade ended their lives last week. Several of our friends kids have attempted suicide, shocking their church communities. Our hearts are breaking with those in such pain.
I remember my colleagues faces as my words sunk in. They had never heard what its like to be suicidal and they started to understand, at least a little. And Im reminded how little the church knows about depression and suicide.
Suicidal Thoughts Are Intrusive
They show up, whether we want them or not, like a horror movie playing constantly in our heads. We watch our demise over and over. Sometimes, its terrifying. Other times, it seems like sweet relief.
Several years ago, I was part of an incredible church in Atlanta. I co-directed a non-profit and served in the youth ministry students looked up to me and came to me for wisdom. Nobody knew how much I struggled. They never knew about the horror movie in my mind.
One tough Sunday, I stood alongside my students in worship, doing everything I could to turn my eyes upon Jesus. I told him I love him and would praise him anyway, even if I always felt like that. But when I closed my eyes, all I could see was an image of my body, swinging from the rafters.
I didnt tell anyone.
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Its Easier To Save A Life Than You Think
Earlier, I mentioned believing my death would be a blessing to others. But Im still here because one friend noticed something was wrong and did something about it.
Angela invited me to dinner, took me along to pick blackberries with her kids, and constantly reminded me how important I was to her family. She told me she loved me, it wasnt my fault I was broken, and God didnt like that I was hurting. She was simply present in my pain.
On a hot July night, when I was tired of fighting to stay alive, I showed up on her doorstep because I knew it was safe. And her family walked with me through the dark.
When I needed Immanuel, God With Us, she carried him into my life. She helped me believe I was loved and my life mattered.
So often, all it takes to save a life is being Jesus to us being present, being loving, and being light. Christ is in you, the hope of glory . You dont need answers or to be able to fix it. You just need to be present, perhaps help set the doctors appointment or just listen. Just be aware of those hurting. Just be kind.
Depressed and suicidal people just need you to enter the dark and sit there with us, your love unchanged. You could be his arms to hold us, his hands to feed us, his voice to tell us were not alone. Your love and kindness are more powerful than you know.
Depression and suicide are serious issues, and my heart breaks with those of you facing them.
Is God Punishing You For Something You Did
When everything in your life falls apart, you may wonder if God punishes people by taking away relationships, causing pain, or even taking the life of a person or pet you loved with all your heart.
Youre not alone if youre asking, Is God punishing me for something I did? People have felt that way long before Job in the Bible wondered the same thing. Feeling like youre being punished by God is normal for two reasons: 1) life is filled with difficult losses, terrible tragedies, and dry stretches of boredom and loneliness and 2) you are human, which means you screw up. You make mistakes, hurt others, fail to live up to your own standards, and let people down.
Its perfectly natural to ask why is God punishing me? when youre grieving, hurt, abandoned or lonely. Its especially normal to believe God is punishing you if you accidentally or deliberately hurt others especially if you cant remember the past without feeling ashamed or guilty. But just because your feelings are normal doesnt mean theyre right!
Your feelings of being punished by God are real and painful, but feelings are not reliable indicators of the truth. You are experiencing difficult losses, painful emotions, terrible situations, depression and loneliness because youre a normal human in a broken world. God is not out to get you.
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People Serving God Wholeheartedly Struggle Too
The lie that those walking closely with God dont ever have suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues is dangerous because it wrongly casts these issues as sin.
If we believe depression and dark thoughts are sinful, were more likely to feel ashamed and expect God to deal sternly with us. But the truth is hes good and gracious, not waiting to punish us for our struggles.
Depression and suicidal thoughts dont care about how spiritual we are. Im sure plenty of devout believers and faithful leaders wish it did. I do.
I was in ministry serving, preaching, leading worship, going on mission trips, leading Bible studies but still wanting to die. Still hurting. Still hopeless.
I mentioned Steve earlier. He was a youth pastor when he tried to die. He knew what the Bible said and how to pray. He was well aware of all the right answers and appropriate spiritual statements. They just left him more ashamed because the stigma of being a pastor with these issues was too great.
Depression and suicide are on the rise nationwide. We cant assume that those we love and look up to arent fighting the darkness.
My Mom Told Me That My Depression Is Gods Way Of Punishing Her
To give you context, i grew up in a very traditional asian catholic household where instead of going to therapy for any sort of mental illness we just ignore it and chalk it up to healing it away via prayer
So you would imagine, depression wasnt an option in our household . You literally are not allowed to have it.
Today, I did the worst thing possible admitted to my mother that I might be having symptoms of depression
and oooh boy let me tell you she went through all the stages of grieving:
Denial – not true, she tells me. All i have to do is apply the ancient Chinese remedy of just not thinking about it .
Blaming – its that damned internets fault, giving me all sorts of idea. Back when i was young we only had to toughen up and move on!
Bargaining – she offers to cook me my favorite food if i stop being sad
She skipped the acceptance part however and substituted with:
This is gods punishment to me, he is testing me with this burden! I dont deserve this!
That was a few hours ago. Im still in shock. Im letting it sink in right now. I cant believe how she 360d the whole thing and made it all about her.
What she said hasnt sunken in yet, or at least i think it hasnt yet. But that stung me. Itll probably be ingrained in my mind forever.
I just wish she understood more.
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Spiritually Integrated Treatment Of Depression: A Conceptual Framework
John R. Peteet
1Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Many studies have found an inverse correlation between religious/spiritual involvement and depression. Yet several obstacles impede spiritually integrated treatment of depressed individuals. These include specialization and fragmentation of care, inexperience of clinicians and spiritual care providers, ideological bias, boundary and ethical concerns, and the lack of an accepted conceptual framework for integrated treatment. Here I suggest a framework for approaching these obstacles, constructed from a unified view of human experience spirituality seen as a response to existential concerns a rationale for locating spiritually oriented approaches within a clinician’s assessment, formulation, and treatment plan and recognition of the challenges and potential pitfalls of integrated treatment.
What follows is a conceptual framework for approaching the complex relationship among depression, spirituality, and mental health treatment, which I more fully describe in Depression and the Soul: A Guide to Spiritually Integrated Treatment .
2. The Spiritual Dimension of Depression
3. Fostering Helpful Spirituality
4. Spiritually Integrated Treatment
5. Remaining Challenges
If Im Suffering Is God Punishing Me
Her adversaries have become rulers her enemies relax. Certainly the LORD caused her grief because of her many wrong acts. Her children have gone away, captive before the enemy.
A young man named Don came to see me for pastoral counseling. As he shared his story, I could sense that he was deeply distressed. As his tale unfolded, I could understand why. I was fired from my dream job, he said. My fiancée broke off our engagement. And my friends dont want to have anything to do with me. Why is God punishing me?
Many of us have felt just like Don at one time or another. When our lives are coming apart, when were enduring suffering, we cry out, Why is God doing this to me? Why is God punishing me?
If we look to Scripture, Lamentations offers one answer. There are times when God does cause his people grief because of their wrong acts. As Hebrews affirms, God disciplines us so we can become more like him . So, its possible that our suffering is the Lords way of helping us to grow in holiness.
But the Bible also reveals that sometimes our suffering is not a result of our sin. Consider the example of Job. He suffered greatly, losing his substantial wealth and his family. His friends urged him to admit that it was divine punishment because of his sin, but Job resisted, insisting that he had not deserved his sorrow. In the end, the Lord rebuked Jobs friends, revealing that they had not spoken rightly about God when they said he had been punishing Job .
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What You Need To Know
Never has so much been crammed into one word. Depression feels terrifying. Your world is dark, heavy, and painful. Physical pain, you think, would be much betterat least the pain would be localized. Instead, depression seems to go to your very soul, affecting everything in its path.
Dead, but walking, is one way to describe it. You feel numb. Perhaps the worst part is that you remember when you actually felt something and the contrast between then and now makes the pain worse.
So many things about your life are difficult right now. Things you used to take for granteda good nights sleep, having goals, looking forward to the futurenow seem beyond your reach. Your relationships are also affected. The people who love you are looking for some emotional response from you, but you do not have one to give.
Does it help to know that you are not alone? These days depression affects as much as 25 percent of the population. Although it has always been a human problem, no one really knows why. But what Christians do know is that God is not silent when we suffer. On every page of Scripture, Gods depressed children have been able to find hope and a reason to endure. For example, take 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 :
From Darkness To Light
Jesus Christ came to dispel all darkness. He is âthe light and life of the worldâ and âa light that shineth in a dark placeâ . He wants to help you. The Savior said, âCome unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you restâ . Depression may be a continual struggle, but Christâs promises are real: âI will not leave you comfortless: I will come to youâ . He perfectly understands because He took upon Himself the âpains and afflictions and temptations of every kindâ for âevery living creature, both men, women, and childrenâ . Jesus Christ knows what depression feels like, and He knows what your depression or your friendâs depression feels like. With the Saviorâs help, you can come out of the darkness of depression and see more of the good that is around you.
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Gods Word Speaks To You
The Bible isnt afraid to talk about mental and emotional anguish. Look at Job or the psalms of lament, which compose the largest category of psalms. These are songs of people crying out to God in despair:
- Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted .
- Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God for I shall again praise him, my salvation .
- For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol .
Yet even most psalms of lament end positively, reminding their hearers of Gods faithfulness. Like Gods people throughout history, we often forget everything he has already done for us and the promises he continues to fulfill.
Keep these truths somewhere you can be reminded of them often. Share them with a close friend, family member, or accountability partner who can remind you when you forget or when you dont have the energy or willpower to remind yourself. Gods Word speaks to you on even the hardest days.
My thorn may never leave my side, but I can rejoice in the greatness and sovereignty of my mighty God. This illness continues to remind me that Gods grace is sufficient for me. I pray that God would make known his strength in my weakness.