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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
There are days when the darkness of depression threatens to drown me in despair, depriving me of my lifeline of hope. Yet I am the child of a God who faced darkness itself and won, a God who allowed the darkness of sin to flow over him, who allowed his lifeline connection to His Father to be severed and who allowed darkness to take his life so it could have no power over me.
As I and many others fighting this same battle struggle against the torrents of despair, it is easy for us to forget the truth and the hope we have in Christ.
Consequently, the spiritual support of loved ones, mentors, pastors, friends, and others in our lives are critical.
Yet in the midst of the battle, shame can complicate the helping process and render gifts of support more damaging than beneficial. As someone who has both received and given spiritual support in times of depression, I would like to offer some of the knowledge I have learned along the way to those of you in the beautiful position of sharing God’s love to a child of God struggling with depression.
Pray long, pray passionately, pray always, pray specifically, pray together, pray on your own, pray with elders, pray ceaselessly. Although I believe depression is not an explicitly “spiritual issue”, it is something riddled with darkness and often becomes a battle field for spiritual warfare. On our own, we cannot do anything against the power of evil and the most powerful support we can offer to someone struggling with depression is prayer.
Pray for their spiritual, physical and emotional components, and ask them to join you in watching for God’s answers. Pray before you make decisions, big and small. Pray prayers of thanksgiving on the good days, and prayers of pleading on the bad.
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Second, be vulnerable, inquisitive, and honest.
In my own periods of despair, I often end up horrified at myself. I try to will myself to have faith, to have hope and to love and desire God, and yet I feel nothing but doubt and unexplainable, deep and powerful anger and bitterness towards God that leaves me terrified, ashamed, and hopeless.
In those moments, when people I look up to ask specifically about whether I am experiencing doubt, or my anger, or emptiness, or hopelessness, framing it as something I don’t have to be ashamed of, I am reminded I am not evil or unlovable or unforgivable or a bad Christian. When those same people are honest with me about their own spiritual struggles and the ways they have dealt with them, God uses them to release so much of my shame and fear.
Lastly, be careful how you present spiritual truth.
We have a lot of articles about this in the Libero Network Faith Column, and I encourage you to check them out. In summary, work to avoid suggesting “simple” trite solutions to difficult problems, and do not cherry-pick Bible verses and expect them to completely sooth an aching soul. Instead, explore biblical truths together, and allow God’s love to flow through you, particularly to those who aren’t receptive to explicit Biblical discussions.
Providing spiritual care to someone struggling with mental illness or any other type of pain is not easy, but in it all we can remember that every moment we love on those who need a lifeline of hope we are actively showing our love to God (Matthew 25:45).
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The opinions and information shared in this article may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process.