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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Can a Christian be depressed?

About a couple of years ago, I found myself in the midst of a serious bout of depression. I had run into a series of devastating setbacks in my life, and looking back now, I found that the past eight years had been eight very different types of life circumstance for me, involving, among other things, separation from my love ones, death of my mom, loss of a business to trusted business partners, loss of major source of income and in many ways of control over life's events. Although both my wife and I held on to the belief that God is in control of our lives, and even though we were bouyed by the promises found in His Word, for instance, Gen 50:20,21:
"20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. "

and Jer 29:13:

"11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD , "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "

...and even though we experienced time and again, His intervention and providence, I couldn't help but found myself slipping in my depression.

It hit me the hardest, when a trusted Christian friend to whom I confided about my despair, fears and anxiety decided to do me a favor by writing me an e-mail admonishing me to lose my attitude, for and I quote "being depressed amounts to sin for it is not of faith". I struggled with that a lot. I knew from where my friend was coming. I appreciated his brotherly concern. I felt his kindred spirits and even his biblical stance. Yet, I realized that I was no where near perfect mental health. So, I asked, am I wallowing in my depression? Am I deliberately sinning against God? Am I throwing away my faith in Him?

Then I re-read Psalm 42 and 43, and found solace in King David's own despair, darkness of the soul and cries of desperation. I found in this psalm (for it was one psalm orginally), sparks of hope as well as a way out of the downward spirals of depression, despair, destitution, discouragement and darkness. I found the remedy that can lift me out of the mire of destruction, and yet, I found no quick answers. For as the Psalm shows, even though David knew how to get in touch with the One who can rescue him, yet he found himself trapped in the depths of devastating emotional turmoil. Nevertheless, the Psalm gave me hope, and it also gave me empowerment to be depressed. I had the license to be depressed and I felt free! I felt that even as I allowed myself to be depressed, and as I acknowledged my own emotional upheaval, I am then able to reach out to the Balm of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to wash over me with the soothing embrace of the All-Empathizing One.

Recently, I was encouraged to seek counselling. I found that I am clinically depressed, and that it is a physical ailment. In fact, through therapy I have come to realize that I have been depressed most of my life, and that I have not learned that life can be any different. I am glad that I went to therapy and I am pleased that I am on the road to recovery. Although the journey towards recovery is going to be rough, and it won't be easy, I am glad that I have at least made some small steps towards this journey. Most of all, I am so glad that God accepts me in my depressed state, and that Christ died for the pain that has caused me to be in this state. I can claim His victory and I can learn from Him and grow as I let Him teach me and empower me to be the kind of person that He has come to free me to be.