Thursday, February 12, 2009

Depression and the Christian

One of the difficulties that seems to afflict us as women fairly often is depression. As we head into the darkest and coldest season of the year, it can be especially difficult to keep a cheery disposition. Yet God calls us to rejoice in all things!
It has been on my heart for many years to write a book on escaping from depression. As a teenager and young adult I went through some very dark times. I won't go into every detail right now, but I will tell you I went as far as attempting suicide more than once. When it got to be at its worst and God still did not allow me to die, I begged Him to heal me and allow me to help others who were in the same situation.
It was a long road, but one so worthwhile. Praise God, He has given me the victory today and I want so to let others who are still in the darkness of depression to know that He CAN heal you too!
"Every experience that comes to us in life, be it joyous or painful, comes sifted through the hand of God." Whoever said that was incredibly wise.
There will be times when God lets us experience pain. That's a given. It's hard to see the good that will come out of it when you're in the midst of it, but when we *wait quietly* for the salvation of the *Lord*, the good *will* come.
There are pains in life that we bring on ourselves - consequences of sin. But even then, God does not thrust us from his presence forever. Even the Babylonian captivity was limited, though the Israelite's sin of idolatry seemed boundless.
So, to us also, God promises He will not cast us from his fellowship and blessings forever. He is with us all through it! When life gets tough, we are tempted to despair, but despair and depression only keep us in bondage. Depression is a rock that closes up the pit that we have fallen into, closing off all hope of escape. But here is the key:
God may well have allowed the pit, but the rock is of *our own* making!
This doesn't mesh well with our generation's concept of mental illness being the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. I believe that chemical imbalance may well exist, but I believe it is a *result* rather than a *cause* of our thought processes.
According to the research I have done, when a child begins to learn how to walk or how to read, the brain does not at first know how to send the messages and utilize the proper brain chemicals to make the body or the mind do what it should, but as the child is shown and helped to do the right thing over and over again, the chemical pathways are laid down in the brain until the act of walking when he sees a toy across the room, or reading anytime the printed word is seen, becomes nearly automatic.
Human beings are creatures of habit. If we drive to work the same way every day or always have cream with our coffee, chances are we will again tomorrow. If we exercise our muscles in one way only, day in and day out, our bodies will show that imbalance in strength in one set of muscles but not another. And if we exercise our minds and thought processes in a specific direction, our minds will be built up in that area for good or for ill, until that direction of thought becomes so automatic, it is almost inexorable
Chemical balances in the brain CAN be restored, just as a balance in muscle strength can be achieved - through proper exercise (prayer) and determination.
The rock on top of your pit may be particularly heavy. You may have been building it up for many years, and your first attempts to move it may give you only a tiny glimpse of the hope God has for you. But God is able and willing to give you the strength to keep on "working out" until the bright star of His hope can be seen shining through a widening crack in your self-made prison. Then, one day you will push that rock completely off the top of your pit and be able to see the rope of God's escape plan hanging there where it was waiting for you all along!
I pray that you will see what I write as my heart for you who are suffering - not as a judgement. Remember that I HAVE been there. I had to come to see these things within me before I was able to break free. I know it is not easy, but God is able to work the changes needed within you.


  1. Hmmm. I have never heard or thought about depression and chemical imbalances in this way. Thank you so much for sharing. Depression, in varying degrees, has been a struggle for me throughout my life and you have given me much food for thought. Thank you.

  2. Heidi,
    This is a very good post. At times I feel this despair and wonder if it could be depression. Life is difficult for me at present and I can't seem to move this feeling. Its so hard to give it to God. I actually feel guilty that I feel this way.