In the early 1960s when a Christian suffered from a depression that resulted in Job’s kind of thinking and candid admission, you never said so publicly. You swallowed your sorrow. The first book I read on this subject, covering emotional turmoil and mental illness among Christians, was considered heresy by most of my evangelical friends.
The pervasive opinion then was simple: Christians didn’t have breakdowns. Furthermore, you certainly didn’t stay depressed! You know what term was used to describe those who struggled with deep depression in the early and mid-sixties? “Nervous.” “He’s got a nervous problem.” Or simply, “She’s nervous.” And if you ever, God help you, had to be hospitalized due to your “nervous” disorder, there just wasn’t a Christian word for it. I repeat, you didn’t tell a soul. Shame upon shame that you didn’t trust the Lord through your struggle and find Him faithful to help you “get over” your depression.
I remember being told by a seminary prof, who talked to us about assisting families with funerals, that if you did funerals for those who had committed suicide and the deceased was a Christian, we were never to mention that fact. Frankly, it didn’t sound right then, and it doesn’t sound right today. Shame-based counsel never sounds right because it isn’t right! And I didn’t know enough to know that Job 3 was in the book back then. Had I known, I would have said, “Hey, what about Job?”
I want to write to you who are reading these lines who may be in the pit, struggling to find your way back. It’s possible that things have gotten so dark that you need a competent Christian psychologist (or psychiatrist) to help you find your way. The most intelligent thing you can do is locate one and go. In fact, go as long as you need to go. Make sure that the counselor really does know the Lord Jesus and is truly competent, able to provide the direction you need so you can work your way through your maze of misery. And, I would add, “God bless you for every hour you spend finding your way out of the hole that you have been in. There is hope. Our faithful God will see you through.”
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.