Here are some rough notes from a seminar on Depression. They’re disjointed notes, but there’s some helpful stuff in there I feel. This isn’t an A-Z of depression, and it doesn’t touch on the role of the fall, and it doesn’t point forward to the new creation, and I would be interested to hear of any other Christian resources available.
The Bible addresses negative emotions a lot; the implication is they are part of life. Jesus was anxious in Gethsemane… it’s not a sin. In fact the capacity to cry is a reasoned creation, just like the capacity to laugh.
‘Good things happen to good people & bad things happen to bad people‘… this may sound absolutely stupid to us, but the reality is all too often it creeps into our thinking: ‘why is this happening to me?!’
Positive Confession Theology (‘Name it & Claim it’)… this teaching says that if we have enough faith then we’ll get what we ask for, so healing has been made available through the cross and Jesus dealt with human illness and all we need for healing is to ask for it. This is close to truth, because Jesus’ death has beaten death, but the blessings of that are not all this side of his return, and this theology often leads to a ‘if I’m not healed then I can’t have enough faith’ guilt.
It all stems from our self-gratification culture that says if someone prayed for me then we should immediately be better… this just wasn’t the case a few decades ago. Job & Jeremiah are long books… yet our culture wants instant effect.
We are permitted to express negative emotions to God (cf. John the Baptist in prison, Mary & Martha after Lazarus’ death, Abraham, Hannah)… no point hiding it… do we think God doesn’t know? Often we, as the caring friend, are distressed about their pain, and we want to fix it right here right now, and it is good to want people to feel better, but not just because we can’t cope. In Cor 12.26 we’re called to ‘mourn with those who mourn’.
The Psalms are all about modelling honesty and not pretence… in fact one of the most powerful points of counselling is in getting the emotion out there. There’s power in prayer… get people to pray with and for you, notice in the gospels Jesus prays a lot! Prayer reorientates our perspective, as we understand who God is.