A Way to Respond...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

As Christians, we often hear that if we are struggling with severe depression, something must be wrong spiritually. We must not have enough faith.

You know what I have to say to that?...

That could not be further from the truth! And it completely minimizes a person's struggle.

Let's take a look at the book of Job in the Old Testament for a moment here. Job went through extreme physical and emotional pain, and it all fell on him at once. He questioned his whole existence. His suffering changed him into an unrecognizable person. Naturally, he took comfort in having close friends who were willing to be there for him, as they should have been. At first, his three friends, Eliphaz, Belidad, and Zophar simply sat and grieved with Job (Job 2:11-13)...and that would have been enough. But, like all well-intended friends and people in our lives, they HAD to say something.

It's not like they were TRYING to make Job feel worse, but their words were incredibly insensitive. Rather than encouraging and building him up, they sent a message of criticism and shame. Basically...

"You should have confidence in God! You're faith just isn't strong enough!"
"God must be punishing you for something!"

Really, though? What a way to kick your best friend when he's already down!
{And that was pretty much Job's response.}

All to often, people who struggle with depression are told to "snap out of it", and that is SUCH spiritual and emotional abuse! It is not a sin to be depressed. It is not an insult to God to experience doubts and questions. He wants us to bring those things to Him with a sincere heart, and He will not be offended, or turn from us, if we do that out of nothing but pure sadness and frustration.

The invalidation of struggles HAS to stop! We are called to encourage one another (1 Thes. 5:11), and if you have never experienced severe emotional health problems, the judgement of those who do is absolutely not yours! You may feel that you are "just trying to be helpful"...and yes, that is probably the case, as most people mean very well. But the next time you see a friend in an emotional crisis, I would challenge you to think through your words very carefully before speaking them, because you just never know how deep your friend's hurt truly is. And when in doubt, simply being there with them in silence, or offering a compassionate hug is always more than enough! 


  1. I love hearing opinions of people who are informed on this topic. Excellent point about Job, thanks!

  2. Great insight into the life of Job! I think restoration comes out of a response to God based on knowing He loves us deeply. It won't come from a forced sense of what faith "should do."