Loving the Depressed

 Recently I attended the national conclave of the Bahamas Evangelical Church Association (BECA) in Freeport, Grand Bahama.  During the conference, the urgent, but often “hush hush,” issue of Mental Illness in our society and especially in our churches was broadly discussed. One of the symptoms of the disease is depression. Depression affects millions of people every year, including many Christians. The book of Psalms is proof that God’s people are not exempt from feelings of extreme loss, disappointment, and sadness. Given its prevalence, most of us probably know someone who’s suffering from depression. Depression can be debilitating, but God gives us a way through. We find hope for the future in knowing Jesus saves us. We find help for the present by reaching out to the church. And, we find healing through prayer and modern medicine.
No one gets through depression alone. So how can we love someone who is dealing with depression? It can be difficult. But someone coping with depression needs the hope of Jesus and our friendship more than ever. If you’re wondering where to start, here three possible ways we can love someone who’s depressed.
  1. Remind them of God’s truth.

Someone who’s depressed often feels alone, unloved, and doubtful. When David feared for his life, Jonathan helped David refocus by reminding him of God’s strength and faithfulness (1 Samuel 23:15-18). Like David, our friends will never stop needing reminders of God’s faithfulness. Let’s encourage each other with the truth that God is a promise maker and a promise keeper (Numbers 23:19).

  1. Be patient and understanding.

Depression rarely healed overnight. Be persistent in prayer and patient in person. To someone who’s depressed, questions like “Are you better?” and “Do you feel good today?” can sound like “Why aren’t you better yet?” In Psalm 40:1, we see David waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord while crying out to Him in prayer. Be patient while believing and expecting that the Lord will work all things for the good of those who love Him, including our friends (Romans 8:28)..

  1. Provide Regular Connection. 
In addition to patience and understanding, people who are depressed needn relationships with Christians who aren’t afraid to have uncomfortable conversations, pray with them, or just hang out without any expectations.  When we’re isolated from other Christians, it’s easier to believe that lie that we are unlovable, that no one cares. But when we’re consistently reminded of God’s faithfulness and promises, we remember that we are His beloved kids (Psalm 8:4-6). When Jesus looks at your friend or family member, He sees someone who needs His healing love. It’s no accident you are in this person’s life in this season. As Christians, we carry Jesus’ presence and power in us. Strengthening and encouraging each other is what we’re called to do (1 Thessalonians 5:11Hebrews 3:13).
Sometimes the best gift we can give to someone dealing with depression is gift of presence and the same love and grace Jesus has given us. As we spend time with Jesus, we experience what it’s like to be loved by him and have more of His love to give away to others (John 15:12-13Proverbs 17:17).
So, let’s provide hope for the depressed!

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