I have seen many opinions on this subject recently. According to some people, “good” Christians do not suffer from depression or anxiety. If you have a mental health problem you’re simply not trusting in God enough, not praying enough, or your relationship with the Lord isn’t strong enough.
I would like to squash that ridiculous myth once and for all.
First, let’s all recognize that there’s no such thing as “enough” when it comes to humans. We’re all sinful, we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God, and we all need salvation in equal measure. Living in a fallen world, we have to accept that sometimes bad things happen. It’s the nature of a fallen world to have illness, and depression is just that – an illness. Medical research has proven that a depressed person’s brain functions differently from that of a normal person. It is a real, measurable condition. Praying more, reading one’s Bible more, and attempting to increase one’s closeness with the Lord isn’t going to cure true depression anymore than it cures cancer.
Let me pause right here to say that, YES, there are times when God intervenes and full healing is granted through a miracle. However, this is not always the case, and it’s not for us to question why a person is or is not healed of an illness. That decision lies solely with the Lord and His sovereignty and omnipotence. A lack of healing does not indicate a faith that is inadequate, nor should it be a reason to discredit one’s suffering.
Quite frankly, I find it appalling that any Christian would bash the amount of faith a fellow believer has for a disease that the person has no control over. Instead of finding reasons to vilify those brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer from mental illness, we should find ways to reach out to those who are struggling. There are commands throughout the Bible urging us to help those who are sick or struggling. In 1 Peter 3:6, we are instructed to have humble compassion for others. Galatians 6:10 reminds us to always do good to others, especially fellow believers. Romans 12:9-13 gives clear guidance:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Next time you come across someone suffering from depression, show them compassion and grace. Be patient and forgiving. Remind yourself that what they are struggling with is not imaginary. Meet them in their dark place and bring light into it instead of denigrating them for what is beyond their control. Pray for them. When in doubt, as cliché as it sounds, ask yourself what Jesus would do if He were in your shoes, and then be Jesus to them.