I, along with many others are saddened by the suicide of the much beloved actor Robin Williams. There is shock, confusion, and plenty of explanations to go around. As it turns out Williams was battling with depression and various addictions for some time. Many Christians are quick to point out that worldly success does not bring happiness. Many will conclude, “this is what you get when you turn your back on God.” However, in my reading through various reports on his suicide a different reality caught my attention. One particular headline said, “his energetic appearance hid what was going on inside of him from even his closest friends and family.” A man much loved by others, did not feel loved to share the depth of his pain with anyone. That headline caused me to stop and think about Christianity and depression.
If in a secular world where antidepressants are widely available and encouraged, where psychologist are waiting to tell you that it’s not your fault and that you are better than you think, and people still hide their depression, how much more in Christianity? Christians are uncomfortable with depression, particularly in their midsts. I think frankly many do know now how to deal with it, nor how to respond to someone who is dealing with depression. There is a stigma against “being depressed” in the Christian conscience. And from a certain perspective this is understandable and expected. How can we who have the glorious truths of Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15 as our reality struggle with depression? We, who’s hope is heaven, who are in right standing with the King, who have the Holy Spirit even contemplate being depressed? But this does not change the reality that many are depressed in the Christian Church!
There are many reasons for why Christians get depressed and why we are uncomfortable with the whole topic. But I have a very different goal in this post then to address them. I simply want to ask a question, “do we as Christ’s church have an environment of love that allows those dealing with depression (or any other sin) to have freedom and encouragement to share their burden with us?” Or, “do we by our actions and cookie cutter answers shun and and shut down those who need help?” Our friendships and local churches must be places of refuge for the hurting soul, not mere factories of answers.