Romans 12: 15 - "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." (NIV)
A friend contacted me a couple of days ago delivering a simple message. To let me know they were contending before the Lord on my behalf and missed seeing me on CB. Knowing the struggle with clinical depression and anxiety disorders began in teen years with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) making this time of year most difficult.
Medication adjustments made nearly two and a half weeks ago still are not working and years taught the 'brain game" is as much art as science. The agenda was transparent. Merely communicate godly love, care, and prayers from The Father. No axes to grind on what is wrong in the world, church, Christians, politics, etc.
Micah 4:3 - "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (NIV)
They lived the words of a song listened too many times these past weeks. Who will be Jesus? © Bruce Carroll 1989. God answered my question the lyrics posed. The friend told me I was on their heart and mind but asked the accuracy of six questions. Three things you never say to a Christian dealing with depression and three things you do. They went to great lenghts to research how best to minister to me.
After listening to the questions, I said they were "100% spot on." Telling someone to "get over it" denies the reality of the pain, suffering, and grief and minimizes them and if internalized leads towards denial of reality.
Saying you are despondent because of sin is similar to Job's friends. God called to repentance for such "counsel." (Job 42) If adopted leading to further condemnation though in Christ none exists. (Rom. 8:1) As Paul stated, looking in a mirror and turning while forgetting our appearance. We are a vapor and must remember God judges other's hearts and lives. Though there are many permutations of errant responses. Most common encountered over the decades; "you lack faith causing your depression." Though not spoken, represents a variation of the disciple's amazement of Christ addressing a camel, rich man, and entry to heaven. Both based on the same belief. God blesses righteous people with health, wealth, position, and happiness.
The problem, biblical joy is now defined by emotions, life occurrences, personality and even whether bubbly mirthful endorphin "highs" are ever present. A Christian is to always be joyful, right? Tremendous care is paramount in correct biblical understanding for believers from various backgrounds, cultures, temperaments,etc. of "joy" and "happiness" too not cause another brother or sister to stumble.
The three things the Christian counselor recommended saying from thier site:
The first communicates the person is on your heart and mind before God. Do not say the second unless really meaning it. A person with a depressive disorder or wrestling through weighty despondency will take at face value and reach out. If really not able, available, or not meaning it ... leave unsaid. The last communicates though the heaven seems closed to your cry, another stands in belief God hears, directs, corrects, rescues, and leads to the land of the living. I told this friend, someone who deals with major depression long-term is not looking for someone to "fix them." Learning long ago it does not happen. Instead, really only wanting a friend though knowing not"fun" to be around or felling they do not have much to offer another.
Googling the topic you can find lists of five, seven, or ten things to say or not. All heard before but ones still causing pangs:
"God cannot use you in this state" and "you are being a terrible witness for the Kingdom." Though knowing God is not limited by any state I find myself and though others may believe my life witness lacks severely though God views otherwise... it still hurts. The Lord is able to work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8:28) How thankful God does not call me to be me. He calls me to be who I am in Christ by His power. Not leaving me to muddle through being me in the best possible human effort. This only leaves a giant man made mess.
Matt. 25: 35, 36 - "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (NIV)
The lyrics of the song by Bruce Carroll©, Who will be Jesus and my friends?
"Who will be Jesus to him? Who'll show the love that restores him again? Oh he does not need a judge, he needs a friend. Who will be Jesus to him?"
The next day another friend mailed asking how I was, replying "fine." They said Pinocchio responded and were praying.
Who will be Jesus to them? Who'll show the love that's commanded in His word? Will they see in us the mighty God we serve? Who will Be Jesus to them?"
Later in the day another sent a mail of inquiry and a Psalm God placed on their heart to share. They fulfilled the words of one final lyric. Also, concluding with scripture sent which "jumped off the page."
"The Savior cries for them to see Himself in me and you ... And when they look at us, do they see Jesus there? Who will be Jesus to Them? Who'll show the love that restores them again? Oh, they do not need a judge they need a friend, who will Be Jesus to them?"
I have seen Jesus daily all because of the saints of CB!
Psalm 61: 1 - 4 "Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings." (NIV)
Attributions: New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Bold, Emphasis, Underline - Mine
I am going to add a caveat to your second point. Sometimes the reverse is true. The individual hears what you said but at the same time, they don't want to be a burden so instead of calling, they don't. That's why I would suggest that in addition to keeping the door open, take the time to first of all be very specific about you genuinely wanting them to call. Let them know you are not just saying it. You mean it. Secondly, when you feel that urge to check on them, do so. Maybe everything is just fine but there is nothing wrong with letting someone know you were thinking about them and wanted to see how they were.
"After listening to the questions, I said they were "100% spot on." Telling someone to "get over it" denies the reality of the pain, suffering, and grief and minimizes them and if internalized leads towards denial of reality."
I also think you well target 3 "main points" of how to respond to those "especially" suffering from depression and other emotional issues, because by following these, they effectively show one's "seriousness of compassion" for them.
Thank you for this offering of enlightenment.
"God cannot use you in this state" and "you are being a terrible witness for the Kingdom."
Lemme at 'em... Lemme at 'em. Just tell me who said this to you! Them's fightin' words! (in Cowardly Lion's voice:) PUt 'em up, Put em up.
Will read more thoroughly later but saw this and my blood began to boil.
My daughter struggles with depression. I use to feel that i needed to have good advise. But, now i know that simply listening and drawing the pain out is the best action i can take. Prayer and a listening ear is what is required when ministering to ones who are plagued with depression and anxiety. Thank you for sharing your pain. You really are being prayed for, and you really are LOVED by your Heavenly Father!