With the recent suicide of Robin Williams due to severe depression, I have heard many well-meaning Christian friends comment something like this:
“It just goes to show that money doesn’t make you happy.”
“Wealth, fame, and popularity does not bring joy.”
“Having lots of money or being famous will not bring you inner peace.”
And although I agree with the truth behind these statements, we sometimes like to say certain statements to bolster the position of the Christian. We say them to show (albeit falsely) that we don’t struggle with these types of things. I am sure you have heard them. They go something like this:
“We Christians have that inner peace that the world doesn’t have.”
“Having Jesus Christ in my life keeps me from being depressed.”
“If they only had God in their life, they wouldn’t struggle like they are struggling now.”
Anyone that has been a Christian for any length of time and has dealt with people, knows the real truth – Christians struggle with depression too.
In November of 2010, I officiated a funeral for a fifteen year old boy in upstate New York. Cause of death? Suicide. This young man had been saved and knew Christ as his Saviour for eight years. In 2008, I attended a teaching conference in New England and heard for the first time a pastor by the name of Greg Baker teach some lessons on teaching/reaching people. I enjoyed his charisma, his personality, and his teaching. It didn’t hurt that he had led in the dynamic growth of a solid church in Canada – an area where churches typically struggle to survive, much less grow. A year later Pastor Greg Baker was found dead in his own home. Cause of death? Suicide. This was someone who didn’t just know Jesus Christ personally – he taught about having a relationship with Christ on a regular basis.
In my years of pastoring and counseling people, depression continues to be as relevant a topic among Christians as well as non-Christians. Let’s quit hiding behind the clichéd sentences and polished statements. Let’s quit pretending that this is something only the unsaved, wicked, far-away-from God person deals with. Christians struggle with depression too.
While sitting at the dinner table with my wife and four children yesterday, we discussed the suicide of Robin Williams. But we also discussed others who we knew to be Christians who committed suicide. And then we talked and talked about the importance of reaching out and getting help if one finds themselves at a point in life where suicide seems the only answer.
I love to teach about the amazing exploits of the great men and women in the Bible. However, let’s not stop at those stories. Let’s also tell the stories of people in the Bible who struggled with depression. Stories like Elijah who was so depressed he asked God to take his life. Stories like Job, who was a greater Christian than any on the earth at the time (God said this), who wished he was never born. Stories like David, who although one of the most beloved and greatest characters in the Bible, opined at times about being like a dove and flying away from all of his problems and being at rest.
So, fellow Christian, quit looking down on people who struggle with depression. And quit thinking that just because you are a Christian, you are exempt from ever struggling with depression. Being a Christian does not keep me from anything (other than Hell) that an unsaved person goes through in this life. Remember that. And then remember that although we have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother in Jesus Christ, for some Christians, that friendship with Christ is strained and so they struggle as much as a lost person would.
Have you talked to your friends and family recently about this important subject? Make that call today…text that one person today…talk to your children today. Even if they know Christ as their Saviour because Christians struggle with depression too.
10 thoughts on “Christians Struggle Too”
I wish I knew why people think that Christians don’t suffer? We do suffer and feel pain, but we have something the world does not. We have Jesus who gives us peace while we go through it. And even then we don’t go by ourselves, Jesus goes along with us.
Desiray – thank you for the feedback. You are right – we have Jesus with us!
Josh, this is so good. Thank you for sharing and for the great reminder. I so enjoy your candid and thought-provoking posts.
Emily – hope it can be a blessing to someone. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Maybe some of the people you have heard saying these types of statements aren’t doing it with a self righteous attitude at all, or to try to prove false theories. Maybe they are just saying it as reminder to their friends, and to themselves, that if your struggling with frustration/depression due to financial issues (among other things) remember IT IS NOT THE SOURCE OF YOUR HAPPINESS. How do we know? Because we continually see people with an abundance of money still struggling to say happy. As a Christian who has suffered from occasional depression I find almost comforting that people who seem to have everything are still unhappy. I don’t mean that to sound cold in any way. What I mean is that just when I start feeling down because my family of 4 with one on the way has moved into their in-laws home due to a job loss and are struggling daily to meet needs….I know I can still be happy, If I choose to me. I don’t need money and materialistic things in order to still feel Joy. How do I know…well because “It just goes to show that money doesn’t make you happy”
Heather – I think you hit upon something very true and also Scriptural. We do not need money and materialistic items to have joy. Why? Joy resides on the inside – from Jesus Christ. So, although I completely agree with what you and others have said (and I have even said these things in the past), we have to be so careful not to come across as those who never struggle. You were humble enough to admit that you have struggled at times. We Christians need to be vulnerable to share our weaknesses with others while at the same time be strong during other’s weaknesses.
Thank you for your feedback and insight!
Josh thanks for your thoughts and valuable insights. We are frail but as believers have a frailess Father. I have wrestled with depression over the years and twice momentarily contemplated suicide. Now in both instances the roots of the situation were continued improper responses which deviated away from the fountain of life and led further on the path of destruction. If we are all honest we will say that we face depression in each of our lives, and yet it is often minor bouts such as simply the “blahs”. I occasionally wrestle with it still, but through God’s grace realize that it is often a part of my diseased flesh, and through God’s power have to choose to believe God even when my flesh doesn’t want to.
Bottom line. . . Depression is real, and is not a sign of weakness but a signal for encouragement which often is nothing more than listening. James tells us to confess our faults. It is high time we stop pretending that “we have it all figured out” when we all know no one has it figured out…. Except God.
Outstanding insight Todd! Sure glad you are teaching other believers and encouraging them in their walk with God.
I do not go to your church yet but am thinking of attending. I am impressed by your article because I have been diagnosed with Manic Depression since I was a small child ( it runs in our family). I have tried to commit suicide twice. I do believe in Jesus and God and I can tell you first hand that the darkness that comes over you when you are at the lowest of the low is so horrible, so deep and so powerful that it is hard to see anything over your pain. Especially when you pray and pray and nothing seems to change. The last time I tried suicide I heard a very loud male voice call my name and it snapped me out of my attempt. I recognized the voice but I don’t know who it was if that makes any sense. I believe now it was the Lord speaking to me – afterwards I received help and counseling and started taking medication. I am better now but still have times when I feel the dark pit sneaking up on me. Depression is such a hard disease. No one seems to understand the pain is as real as cancer. And you can’t just “get over it”. Believe me, no-one wants to feel or live that way. Anyway, just thought I’d give my two cents. I just may check out your church because this article really touched me – thank you very much for writing it.
Melissa – I am glad to hear from you and to know that the article was a blessing. It is very important that people feel connected with other people, especially during the dark periods of life. And we ALL go through those periods. Here is where I believe a good local, New Testament church comes in. We would love to have you visit us as I believe you will hear the Word of God and feel the love of God at our place! Let us know how we can be of further help to you. Check us out at kbc4u.org.