5 Things Christians Should Know About Depression and Anxiety

Mental Health & the Church

Mental health issues are complex. If you have ever seen anyone struggle with depression or anxiety, you know it is a very painful place.

And the Church has dealt with them well at times...and poorly.

Below are five points for us to consider. You can read more about each of these points here.

1. Depression isn't what the Church sometimes makes it out to be.

2. Mental illness is not a sin.

3. The Bible doesn't provide “easy answers.”

4. Anxiety and depression don't look how we often think.

5. Strong churches don't “fix” depression.

One easy way to minister to them is to say "Joe has mental health struggles" rather than saying "Joe is mentally ill." It reminds you (& others) that God's identity for them, and His purpose in creating them, is bigger than just the one issue.

Anything you would add?

11 Responses

  1. Anonymous
    I have struggled with depression for a long time and have often thought that if I was just a better Christian and trusted in God more, I wouldn't have to take depression medication; that somehow it made me a bad Christian to rely on the antidepressants. I now understand that this is a physical condition, like diabetes, and I need to take medication to stay healthy.
  2. Mark
    I appreciate this...a challenging & critical topic that needs to be discussed!
  3. Pastor Brian
    Thank you for sharing some of your story Anonymous. You remind me how it's good for us to remember that God's goodness and provision is also seen in the medicines He has granted us, whether for diabetes or depression. Your courage to bring your depression into your walk with Christ is an example. I wonder if you'd be willing to speak to how you keep a sense of God's presence when the depression is hardest (?).
  4. Nancy
    Often times there is shame connected when someone shares they struggle with depression and sometimes we as Christians lay guilt trips on the person who is struggling with depression by trying to convince them if they internalized this Scripture or that one they wouldn't feel this way, if they prayed more or turned to Jesus more, if, if......sometimes that person needs a hug, needs someone to listen, walk with them a ways and help them seek the help they may need. Jesus listened, He embraced, He accepted the hurting where they were at, and He showed compassion and love. I know wonderful Christians who are afraid if someone is depressed or has mental struggles and avoid them not knowing what to do, but where are these individuals to come for help in their churches and if not to their brothers and sisters in Christ then to who?......they often sit in church silent and crying on the inside, ashamed and alone by what they see all around them. We, who can, need to be there as best we can. Sorry I rambled, but having a mother who was mentally handicapped taught me many life lessons. Her church was not there for her. Great blog! Thank you too Anonymous, what you have shared is so very true. Hopefully others will hear your story and courage!
    • Pastor Brian
      Good reminders Nancy. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. At points, the church has been on the cutting edge of issues...and sometimes they were the last to care. Hopefully we can continue to be a place at First Covenant where we can bring our struggles and find support in action and prayer. No church is perfect (including us), but thankfully Christ will continue to grow us. Let us pray that we may become all He is calling us to be to this world.
  5. I was diagnosed as having a Manic depression illness 35 years ago. The illness is called bipolar now. Depression was my biggest problem. Some times the medications you are on quit working etc. My identity in Christ was off for several years. Most of THE CURCH actually made things worse. Worse than unbelievers. However: I am not talking about First Covenant Church. The pastors and most of the people tried to understand, prayed
  6. This is Randy Baar again. I accidently sent the blog by mistake. ha ha First Covenant pastors and most of the people prayed and had empathy for me and my wife. I would recommend that everyone learn the basics of depression and other mental illnesses. The when you apply the love of Jesus in you, you will have an idea on things that help and things that don't. There has been hard times for me and Gail over the years, but there has been lots of good years too. The Lord called me into home missions and we produced, helped direct, and hosted a Christian program for 10 years. Then dropped into the pit (got severely depressed for four years straight. To be honest Brian; I wasn't able to keep a Christian countenance. I believed but was rendered helpless to draw any of the relationship alive. The Devil brought suicide to mind as the only option. It's terrible. I was able to say no to these thoughts and pray to God to take me if His is not going to pull me out of the pit. The Lord miraculously brought me out of the four year depression in 2008. He did use an unlikely combination of medications to do it. I began to be burdened for others who suffered form what I have. (2nd Cor1:3 & 4) Instead of being ashamed and trying to hide my mental illness, The Holy Spirit illuminated me and I was led to spend many hours to research and lean about bipolar, depression, and a general knowledge on many of the other mental illnesses. I was inspired to begin a new ministry we named "Thorn in the side ministries." I was inspired to write curriculum for sharing on bipolar depression, unipolar depression, anxiety, etc This is a big part of what Gail and I will do for the rest of our lives unless The Lord redirects what He wants us to do. Gail shares how hard it is being a spouse, relative, or good friend of someone who has depression and some of the things you can do to survive. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who prayed for me and Gail during the four year depression. I believe it kept me alive and was a big part of The Lord rescuing me from the pit. If anyone ever wants any help or just wants to talk or anything, please call Gail or me. There are many practical things you should know. and I can explain about biochemical imbalances etc. I could go on and on but it's time to end this already marathon response. ha ha Randy Baar's cell: 417-263-0317 - Gail Baar's cell: 417-263-0318 - Gail and I use the same email. randybaar@outlook.com
    • Pastor Brian
      Thanks for sharing Randy. One of the ways God brings great healing is by bringing things into the light. I am grateful you found places to do that, including at FirstCov. Your example of faith in the midst of these trials and seeing God's work in it is a blessing to those who suffer with such conditions.
  7. Nancy
    I am glad Randy that you and Gail are there, as well as, Pastor Brian and Pastor Todd to encourage and pray with those who struggle with depression. I know there are many others who silently suffer and are afraid to speak up. Thanks Pastor Brian for having a blog such as this to be able to share. I am quite sure the disciples and those closest to Jesus suffered from depression, sadness and other emotions when He went to the cross, when they were separated from Him and when they went through their own suffering after He was gone. Even if sometimes church members (due to I am sure lack of knowledge and a degree of fear) don't understand or aren't there for other church members who struggle.....we must remember Jesus completely understands...He felt every emotion we have and He cares. Randy, I am glad you brought up....our identity in Christ...that is so crucial, especially when we have a world that wants to define our identity, others and even family members....it is hard when one is depressed to hang on to their identity in Christ, but it is so important in better times to continually strengthen that identity in all the ways we can.
  8. I see you have a good understanding. Jesus is the only reason I'm alive. I may have been rendered ineffective but I knew that the depression I was experiencing was nothing compared to Jesus's depression at the Garden of Gethsemane and The Cross. Even know I had nothing, I knew what the Word of God was true whether I felt anything or not. I hung on to the ROCK (anchor) I give all the thanks and praise to God. He pulled me out of the pit.
  9. Nancy
    Having known deeply a variety of emotions/feelings in my lifetime due to challenging life situations, I can't even begin to imagine what Jesus must have felt in the Garden and during those alone times as He was beaten and sat in a cell awaiting His time on the Cross. The loneliness He experienced when the disciples fell asleep as He was distressed and depressed over what lie ahead. Christian support groups and sermons based on what Jesus felt and experienced which would help the hurting " " " relate and identify are so needed in our churches and circles. The verse that touches me so deeply is "Jesus wept".....He knew what this life and its' struggles were all about. Comfort comes in knowing that He still weeps with us when our tears come.

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