The Bible generally attributes sorrow and despair to enemies or unconfessed sin, both of which can decidedly cause depression. Secret sins hurt the most. Failure to repent, turn from the sin and receive forgiveness and failure to appreciate the glory of God, the magnitude of His sacrifice, the joy of His service and the wonder of His love and His holy word can cause the Christian enter the darkness of despair.

The seriousness of spiritual depression and the need of repentance, forgiveness, turning from sin, restoration of relationships, seeking the face of God and recognition of the sovereignty of God cannot be overemphasized.  Spiritual depression robs us of the certainty of God's care and providence. Pastor and elders must boldly proclaim the gospel seeking restoration of the straying or troubled saint. The family of God needs to be involved; encouraging, coming along side, supporting and helping the downcast. God can heal if He chooses—and He does.

The puritans recognized depression and called it melancholy of the soul. They admonished confession, repentance, forgiveness and pleading at the throne of God for mercy. But the Puritans also recognized an endogenous depression which happened to the spiritually upright, to those with no cause for the turmoil and despair within. Richard Baxter, a Puritan pastor wrote, "If other means will not do, neglect not medicine; and though they will be averse to it, as believing that the disease is only in the mind, they must be persuaded or forced to it."

My story continues,

When she return four weeks later, she said, "Doctor Anderson, I feel normal for the first time in eight years.  I can pray and worship and fellowship again. Christ has become more real than  ever. My husband and family cannot believe the change." 

Pastors, elders and the church family need to acknowledge the medical side of depression and not just the spiritual side of depression. Medical depression exists and affects the saved and unsaved alike. The seriously depressed who find healing and relief in medical treatment benefit from the common grace of God which is showered on all humanity (it rains of the just and unjust alike). Those saints should not be castigated, belittled or shunned.

True medical depression is hard to understand for those who have never experienced it. But the depressed who find themselves in the pit with no way out, those who view suicide as a relief from this despair and those who wish for death every night as they crawl into bed understand. They need kindness, understanding, and help from the church without the side looks and whispers. They need the body of Christ to come along side, provide Christian love, care and help, just like one would with a grieving widow. The depressed need understanding and prayer, not a scold.

Matt Anderson, MD is an obstetrician/gynecologist who has practiced for 28 years. He and his wife have four married children and 14 grandchildren. He is a member of the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists (aaplog.org). He and his wife attend the Mounds View campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Anderson has written for WORLD Magazine (worldmag.com) and occasionally blogs at mdviews.wordpress.com.

Publication date: December 15, 2010

 

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