First in a series on faith and depression
During a prayer time in an adult Sunday school class, which I taught, I asked for intercession on my behalf. I had been despondent for weeks: sad, less motivated, emotionally fragile. I wanted relief, or at least God’s sustenance so my full-time teaching ministry wouldn’t suffer.
After the study, as folks shuttled out of the room, one lady stayed behind. She sidled up close to me and asked, “Terry, have you been neglecting your quiet time?”
She figured that a daily dose of Bible reading and prayer would protect me from the possibility of depression. From her perspective, walking closely with the Lord and despondency are mutually exclusive. If I’d spend time alone with Christ, I’d be emotionally whole and wouldn’t struggle so much.
I salute the faith-sustaining habits of prayer and Bible reading. As you’ll discover in later blogs, both disciplines help me in the fight against despondency. But I don’t have much patience with her simplistic solution. It was naïve, unrealistic, and thoroughly unbiblical. She meant well, but her type of response exacerbates a depressed person’s problem by suggesting that growing faith and despondency can’t coexist.
I assured the well-meaning lady that my devotional habits were well-entrenched. I told her that recent days in which I’d had unremitting emotional pain had begun with Bible study, prayer, and confession of sin.
“For me,” I said to her, “there’s no direct correlation between onset of depressive episodes and the quality of my relationship with the Lord. I can be in the vise-grip of depression when I’m in close fellowship with the Lord, or I can be lighthearted and happy on days when I neglect time with Him.”
She walked away, apparently unconvinced by my assertion.
What do you think? Can faith and despondency coexist? I address that question again in my next post.