For the Christian who struggles with depression, preach to your heart
For many who have seen this title and have begun reading this piece, shock and awe is probably filling your person whilst you battle in your mind with the following monologue: "[Gasp] A depressed Christian, how can it be? Christians cannot be depressed, that's madness."
This assumption comes not from a judgemental standpoint at all; in fact I myself was exactly the same and often wrote depression off as a state which attacks those that cannot be bothered to address their afflictions and trials. This inaccurate outlook was my perception for a long time, until I was diagnosed with depression and still find myself struggling with it today.
Upon coming to a place where I felt comfortable sharing this with other believers, I was astounded by the amount of Christians who could completely identify with what I was wrestling with and had also engaged with depression during their walk. In that moment, I came to realisation that depression was not a taboo or a rarity but was rampant in the body of Christ and required addressing, both from a position of acknowledgement and the provision of a tangible remedy.
In order to provide the backdrop for adequate understanding, it is important that we know what depression is, even if it is in the slightest sense. The Oxford Dictionary, to my surprise, actually gives an accurate description which is most definitely validated by my personal experience and is presented as "severe, typically prolonged, feelings of despondency and dejection: self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression which is characterised by extenuating feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy."
Although depression is triggered in a variety of ways, in my case there was what felt like a storm of difficult circumstances taking place in my life, causing me to take my eyes off the Lord and lose sight of Him entirely. This, regrettably, made way for me to doubt God's goodness and allow hopelessness to take root, giving a platform for the enemy to feed me with lies and fuel the fire of my despair. The most challenging concept of this period is underlined by this one statement; that which was a lie became that which was true.
Fellowship was the beginning of the recovery process for me, being encouraged by how believers illustrated the love of Christ in a way that I could identify. To be loved and served consistently when I was the most unlovable and ugliest I have ever been reminded me of the Gospel and the faithfulness of God in His pursuit of the worst of men.
As I began reading my word again, an abundance of comfort was drawn from such as Job and Psalms, and I was uplifted by the evident struggle of godly men whilst taking note of their constant retreat to the truth of God; a refreshing reminder that even they went through despair in turn making me "normal".
Outside of the Christian faith, you will be often be encouraged by a doctor to find a hobby or exercise. However; I have found that meditation on God's word and almost 'preaching to your heart' to be increasingly beneficial. I have often been implored by other believers to take the truth of God in a verse and allow it to make alterations to my perspective rather than letting my heart and mind preach to me.
As professing Christians, we are to stand firm on the surest foundation - God's word - and be driven in our thoughts and attitudes by that rather than feeling and emotions. We are to, as Paul beautifully states to the church in Corinth, "cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Let us, therefore, not be hesitant to divulge information concerning what we struggle with as believers. Let us be compelled to be open and share, labouring with one another against the trials of this present time. Let us acknowledge the importance of meditating on the word of God and the practicality of taking all thoughts into the obedience of Christ, replacing the lie for the truth and making a clear distinction of what that is by the word of God. Let us rely on God for all things pertaining to life in Him and be bold in our weakness knowing that His strength is made perfect.
It is with great relief that I declare these words: God is eternally good, even when we don't see and my hope in Him has been restored and I know that the faithful God who has carried me through this will be diligent in His pursuit of believers struggling with the very same thing.
"I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to. But I always get back again by this–I know that I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also." C.H. Spurgeon