Fighting in Silence: Pastors and Depression
There are no proper words I can use to describe the misery of anxiety and depression. Anxiety spikes you with adrenalin that should have you bouncing off the walls, but instead you’re left paralyzed, like a deer in headlights. Your thoughts run away from you, crashing through the dark corners of your mind so you feel like you’re going insane. Then, like a roller-coaster hurtling toward the earth, depression hits. The world turns grey, and you’re left exhausted, hopeless, and defeated.
That’s if the season is relatively minor. Many Christians suffer with anxiety and depression, even pastors, and they often do so in silence. Some are afraid of looking weak, some believe these are issues Christians shouldn’t struggle with, while others don’t see the benefit of religious platitudes. Scott Sauls, of The Gospel Coalition, believes these are attitudes Christians must swiftly abandon. In a recent article, Sauls wrote about his own struggle with anxiety and depression, how he needed to embrace humility in order to get help, and how it ultimately served to further the glory of God.
“Anxiety and depression can also, ironically, be a conduit of hope—an opportunity for the foolishness of God to be displayed in our lives. Recently a member in our church (where I’ve been senior pastor for two years) told me he thinks I am a great preacher . . . and he is entirely unimpressed. He told me that the moment he decided to trust me—the moment he decided I was his pastor—was when I shared openly with the church that I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and have seen counselors for many years.”
He finishes by saying,
“As ministers, we may discover in the end that our afflictions had greater effect in people’s lives than our preaching or our vision.”
Anxiety and depression are serious issues. If you are reading this, and are battling with either, I want to encourage you to talk to someone about it. Set an appointment with your pastor, tell a friend or share with a small group, maybe even go see a therapist. Don’t believe for a moment you have to fight these battles alone. Finally, I’d like to leave you with some verses from the book of Psalms.
Many of the Bible’s psalmists struggled with despair, and in their worst moments, they always turned toward God. Sarah Coleman, in her recent article 11 Truths from Psalm 91 that Crush Fear, has compiled several verses that remind us to hope, even in the gravest circumstances.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them" – Psalm 91:14-15
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” – Psalms 94:19
What about you? What are your thoughts on depression and anxiety?
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com