Finding hope

According to statistics, about 1 in every 5 people will suffer from some sort of depression. This week, I’m using the sermon as part of a Sabbath of Hope. As I prepare, I’m interested to hear your stories. How has depression impacted your life or the lives of your friends and family? What message(s) have you heard from your community of faith? How did you respond? What would you like/what did you need to hear to find hope? How can a faith community be more of a resource for you?

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10 responses to “Finding hope

  1. Kate

    Tammy had some good Scriptures for her Sabbath of Hope sermon–you might want to ask her! also, just openneess and awareness about depression helps in understanding. church family can play a major role, too.

  2. jenni

    I don’t know what your sermon is going to be about but please, please, please don’t take a “Jesus can heal everything” stance on this or trying to counsel depressed people yourself. I spent a lot of unhappy years struggling with depression, unable to figure out what was wrong with me because my pastor wanted to play therapist. What ultimately helped me was to see a trained and certified therapist. Depression is a physical problem and to turn it into a spiritual one is hurtful at best and can be fatal at worst. Please consider using your influence from the pulpit to encourage anyone in the congregation who is depressed to seek therapy.

    • Jenni, no worries — I certainly have no intention of doing any of that (claiming it is all spiritual OR offering to play counselor). Would you be willing to share more about the situation with your pastor? My take at this point is that faith communities have typically been on the wrong side of dealing with mental health issues. We’ve made it “sinful” or a matter of having too little faith or something that is secretive instead of recognizing that depression is a form of sickness that needs medical care. I do believe faith communities can be helpful — not in replace of, but in addition to professional care (whether it be offering a supportive place, taking the time to understand and care, etc). Thanks so much for your concern and helpful comments!

  3. Roger

    Hi Jen,

    I don’t know if I can add anything to your thought process on this, but as you probably know, I’ve suffered from it for many years.

    I think it’s really not understood well by most people. If you ask an crowd, I’ll bet everyone of them will admit to having suffered from depression sometime in their life. But there is a big difference between I got depressed when my Mom died, versus I’m depressed for no reason whatsoever, or even the slightest thing that shouldn’t bother you puts you into a serious bought of depression

    When it hits hard, I personally find it hard to do anything positive, think anything positive, or accept any help from anyone. Thoughts that you would never consider to be true, become true in your mind (about your self-worth, how others feel about you, your value to your family, to Christ, etc..) I don’t know that I’ve found the Church to be very helpful with this disorder. Those who have not experienced it first hand, don’t truly understand. They feel it’s just in their mind (and it may be), but that doesn’t make it any less real. I’m not sure what, other than prayer the church can do. However, I’m sure in each good size church there are people who suffer from, or have at some time experienced depression. Maybe the option of a small group who suffers from it to help lift each other up, or a depression prayer chain. I certainly don’t have any answers, but I hope some of my inner thoughts may bring out some of your brilliance.

    Love you!

    Roger

  4. Sue

    I’ve had three diagnosed cases of depression, one after a lot of stress, and two caused by medications. The first time it was high-blood-pressure med. A friend commented on my lack of enthusiasm, and thinking back I realized it had started when my meds changed. My dr. changed my med and I improved in two days. The second time was after I started a med to help prevent a recurrence of cancer. At the beginning stage, my oncologist didn’t believe me and treated me inappropriately; a month later, when I started to think dying was preferable to living, I went to my family doc and started anti-depressants. I also saw a psychologist for 6 months to work thru the emotional issues of my & my spouses’ cancer (diagnosed 17 days apart) and my frustration at the poor support from our oncologist. 15 months later, my boss said I had a poor attitude. After more dr. consults, I needed a psychiatrist to go thru my meds and eventually find I needed triple the anti-depressant but stop another med. I now really do feel like my old self.

    What does this have to do with the church? In the first instance, it was not my church family that commented on my attitude change, although later some said they had noticed it and were glad I was back to my old self. In the second case, it WAS my church family (and not my work colleagues or my family) that allowed me to express how I felt, encouraged me to keep looking for better medical care, and did all the praying – cards – encouraging contacts that church members are taught and asked to do. It made a big, big difference. They didn’t blame me or shun me or, like others, pretend nothing was different. They cared about me and for me, without trying to play dr. or counselor. They were true friends.

  5. A friend

    Saw your post on facebook and felt compelled to respond. I suffer from the illness of depression. It is difficult to say. I can not say it to my church family. Only in the safe confines of my small group Bible study do I even come close to admitting it and then I dance around it with great delicacy. My doctor is in my group so she knows…the fact that she is in my inner circle of Christian friends made it even more difficult to seek from her the medical help I so desperately needed. The previous writer (Roger) expresses very well how thoughts that would never be considered to be true invade and take over. The greatest difficulty I face as a Christian with this illness is feelng like an inferior Christian. Shouldn’t my relationship with the living God be enough to overcome this feeling? I spent many years mired in deep depression attempting to treat it as a spiritual condition not a physical/emotional illness. I spent many hours in great anguish trying to give God my burden and let his joy fill me, but to no avail. Although the illness has effected my spirituality and growth it is not a spirtual issue! It is an illnes which does create a burden, but it is not something which one can just give up. Once I came to this realization and sought the medical treatment I so despeartely needed I began to heal spiritually as well. I am far from well, but I am on the road to recovery. I may never be totally well, but am under the care of an excellent Christian physician as well as a wonderful, caring Christian therapist. I know that God has put these two beautiful souls in my life to be the conduits of His love and healing power.
    The impact of this illness on my husband and children has been varied. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to function and carry out the daily tasks of life without a lot of difficulty. The thoughts of worthlessness and being unloved have caused a great deal of passive/aggressive behavior on my part which has caused me to wound deeply those I love most. Praise God for His forgiveness and grace and the blessing of a forgiving family.
    My greatest need from the Christian community is to be loved in spite of the fact that I am emotionaly defective. I find great hope and comfort in the fact that the Creator of the universe knows my name and loves me. I need for that to be lived out by His church.
    I hope you are able to convey to those in your congregation that there is hope and our loving heavenaly Father does not want His precious children to live their lives under a cloud of depression.

    • Friend,
      Thanks so much for sharing your story here. I certainly hope you are able to experience the love from your Christian community. And I’m saddened that you were led to believe your illness was a result of some spiritual inferiority within you. I’m glad you have come to know that depression is a real sickness, not a spiritual deficiency. Thanks again for offering hope to the members of Lighthouse.

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