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Depression as a sign of faith?

Could depression be a sign of a deeper connection to God? By Joe Haward

 My twin brother is now blogging over at Huffington Post. His first article called 'Let's Talk About Depression' does exactly what it describes. In it he says,

Picture: xymonau/rgbstock

'Before I was diagnosed I remember feeling emotionally impotent in how to cope with whatever was going on in my head. I certainly felt powerless to talk with anyone about it. Surely all I needed to do was pull myself together, slap on a smile and get on with life?

'That misguided mantra crumbled when, one morning, I attempted to make a cup of tea. I walked into my kitchen and was suddenly rooted to the spot. All I wanted to do was walk over to the kettle and flick a switch; it seemed impossible though. I stood there, helpless and screamed. Depression has the ability to mentally and physically cripple you and I encountered the effects rather dramatically.'

It is good to hear voices speaking up over the pain and trauma of depression providing personal insight into something than can quite literally kill people.

For someone like me who have never suffered from depression we can do well to listen, to seek to understand, but most importantly to learn how to 'be there' when loved ones are going through times of blackness.

Walter Wink says,

'It seems to me that more and more people who have never experienced depression before are aware of being episodically depressed today. I do not believe their depressions are neurotic, but a sign of potential health: their heightened capacity to take in the suffering of the planet.' Engaging the Powers p. 305

In a similar way Paul says,

'I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.'
Romans 8:18-25

So perhaps depression sometimes is a sign, a 'groaning', a connection to the suffering of the world around us, a connection to the very heart of God and God's longing to redeem and transform all things, breathing in newness, reconciliation and peace.

Perhaps those with depression sometimes have a spiritual insight into the suffering of the world? We are so interconnected to the suffering of the life and world around us that we cannot help but be touched by the pain and suffering around us.

My brother Tom has not hidden his journey from faith to atheism and how his depression contributed to this lose of belief in God. But maybe his depression took him from a place of perceived faith which was actually atheism to a place of perceived atheism which is actually faith?

Perhaps atheists like Tom are more connected to God than they or we realise? Maybe their depression is an inward groan from the very Spirit of God while they wait for the redemption of all things?

The Revd Joe Haward leads This Hope Baptist Church in Newton Abbot. He blogs at RevJoe


Baptist Times, 26/01/2015
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