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It Should be OK to Not be OK at Church

“Addiction. Lust. Guilt. Doubt. Anger. Shame. Fear.

The problems that plague the human condition are legion, stubborn, and often overwhelming. Is there really hope for change? we wonder, terrified of the answer.”

These words come from Matt Smethurst’s article There’s Hope for Change on The Gospel Coalition, in which he interviews Matt Chandler, co-author of Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change.  

Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer, pastors at The Village Church in Texas, wrote Recovering Redemption after noticing that in their own church body, “there seems to be a disjunction between people’s external struggles and their ability to track them back to heart-level issues.”

Chandler continues,

“Recovering Redemption explains that the gospel, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the only way that the mess of our hearts can be ultimately repaired. From there we lean into the ongoing work of sanctification in our hearts, where we repeatedly remember the finished work of Jesus in order to seek internal transformation for our external struggles.”

One physical and mental struggle that’s been on everyone’s mind this week is that of depression, spurred by the tragic suicide of beloved actor Robin Williams.

In his piece What Would Jesus Say to Robin Williams, Jim Denison reflects,

“Jesus would want Williams to know that his heavenly Father knitted him together in his mother's womb (Psalm 139:13) and gave him the amazing intellect and comedic gifts which made him famous.  The comedian was right: ‘You're only given one little spark of madness.  You mustn't lose it.’  Jesus would want him to know the source of that spark.”

Of course, it’s impossible to truly place oneself in the emotional, physical, and psychological shoes of another human being.

Eric Redmond on writes,

Tragically...wounds and fears that need healing from the love of others stay buried in the recesses of our overprotected souls. Only we know how deep is the ongoing bitterness caused from years of neglect, abuse, sorrow, or the fight to quiet these feelings while smiling in public. In wisdom, we should not assume a happy face means someone else is doing well either."

And in his article How I Know Clinical Depression Isn’t Sinful, Crosswalk author Tim Laitinen shares that it became necessary for his health and safety to begin prescription medication for his depression, something many Christians find hard to understand.

“…chronic clinical depression is not fun. But neither is it immoral. It’s not a crime. It’s a mental condition that doctors are recognizing has a distinct biological component. Have you ever heard of serotonin? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in our brains, and scientific studies indicate that imbalances of serotonin may play a key factor in clinical depression.”

And knowing the love of Christ and having a strong community are no guarantees to eradicate depression, John UpChurch explains in 5 Things Christians Need to Know about Depression and Anxiety.

So where can we find hope for healing and redemption in areas like depression? As you can read on Crosswalk’s Depression and Mental Illness channel, the specifics can look different for everyone. But Jim Denison’s piece reminds us that a sure-fire starting point is knowing the love of Christ.

“I don't know if Robin Williams ever received the significance, unconditional acceptance and hope offered to him by Jesus.  But I do know that our Lord offers these gifts today, to you.”

And while our brothers and sisters are walking that journey, it's important for us as their community to love and accept them- warts and all.

Have you ever doubted the Lord’s love for you? Have you ever wondered if he is far from you in your times of despair, or if you can only commune with him in times of health and Joy? Let the words of Psalm 139 encourage you:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you...

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor of

Publication date: August 13, 2014