When we speak these words we need to determine their meaning. There are times when we say, “I am depressed” when referring to a bad day. In this condition we quickly move beyond the emotional valley and on to better thoughts. However, the challenging usage is when the words come from deep in our soul. They are a call for help. They are the cry of a broken heart. They represent more than a discouraging emotion. They affect our emotions and physical well-being.
Depending on which statistics you study, around 70-80% of pastors admit struggling with depression at some point in their ministry. My guess is that 50% of pastors have taken an anti-depressant to cope with depression at some point in their career.
As you read this, you may have one of these responses. Some of you may say, “Amen, I needed to hear this. This is where I am walking.” Some of you may say, “Been there and done that.” And some of you may say, “Pastors should not get depressed.” This third group consists of people who cause everyone else to be depressed. LOL!
The things I share about depression grew from personal observation more than professional verification. In the coming weeks you will hear from a professional counselor and a friend who struggled with depression. Hopefully, the three perspectives will be of help to you.
Consider these thoughts, from my perspective. First, there is nothing sinful or wrong with people who struggle with depression. Some Christians are like the religious people, in John 9, who assumed the blind man was born blind because of sin. Depression is not an evidence of sin in a person’s life. God does not randomly punish people with depression.
Second, there is nothing wrong if a person has to take medication for depression. Taking medication for depression is no different from taking medication for the flu, a heart condition, or high blood pressure.
A doctor once explained to me that anti-depressants help restore the broken transmitters that fray during stressful times. He said, “Many times after the crisis is over a person can do away with the medication.” The medication is a temporary source of relief while a person walks through a difficult time.
Third, do not judge until you have been there. Most people, struggling with depression, do not like themselves. They do not like the pit they find themselves in. You may never know when you will be in that same pit.
The person struggling with depression cannot explain how they got there. This is an enemy they did not see coming. I can assure you, the person struggling with depression never imagined himself or herself in this condition.
When you evaluate your attitude about depression, turn to the Bible. Elijah prayed that God would kill him (I Kings 19:4). Job struggled with deep darkness (Job 3:3-4). David saw himself in many pits of despair (Psalms). Paul said he despaired of life (II Cor. 1:8).
Depression is not the great dis-qualifier. It is a bump in the road. God has better things in store for those who suffer.