Well-balanced, insightful and sensitive articles on the complexities of depression and how it interacts with faith are very hard to find. Many articles that I’ve come across are written from a simplistic viewpoint that lack any appreciation of the seriousness of clinical depression and how debilitating, and indeed life-threatening, it can be.
In this article – The Depression Epidemic | Christianity Today – Dan G. Blazer, J. P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center explores what depression is, what causes it (inasmuch as this is known), how it can be treated and just how important the Church, and indeed faith, can be in facilitating the healing process. Blazer concludes with this astute observation:
Those who bear the marks of despair on their bodies need a community that bears the world’s only sure hope in its body. They need communities that rehearse this hope again and again and delight in their shared foretaste of God’s promised world to come. They need to see that this great promise, secured by Christ’s resurrection, compels us to work amidst the wreckage in hope. In so doing, the church provides her depressed members with a plausible hope and a tangible reminder of the message they most need to hear: This sin-riddled reality does not have the last word. Christ as embodied in his church is the last word.
Exactly! But the question we need to ask ourselves, as Christians, and as part of a worshipping community, is this: do we act with compassion, love and sensitivity and as signposts of hope? Or, are we too wrapped up in often trivial concerns to enter into the suffering of others, even if that suffering is something that we don’t fully understand?