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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression and the Christian

Back in the fall of 1978, I attended Fuller Theological Institute in Pasadena, California (Fuller is the Stanford or Harvard of theological studies on the west coast).
I was getting my master's degree in Biblical Languages (Hebrew and Greek).
I would be in the library on Thursday evening, studying.  The stress levels were high.  It was an intense academic atmosphere.
What brought relief from all of that stress?
Every Thursday evening, the Fuller library would seemingly empty out as we would walk across the lawn and gather in the student union at 8:00 P.M. to watch "Mork and Mindy."
A silly show, but it brought relief.  How do you spell relief?  R.O.B.I.N. W.I.L.L.I.A.M.S.
It has remained so throughout the years.  There has been many a time when I would watch one of appearances on television and laughter would fill my discouraged heart.
He was a comedic genius - yet a powerful serious dramatic actor at the same time.
That's why I was given pause yesterday, when Debbie looked up as we were watching television and said, "Robin Williams died."
Suicide.  Hanged himself.
The comic/clown dealing with bi-polar and depression - to the point that it overwhelmed him.
I am thankful that we in the kingdom are beginning to be sensitive to the realization that depression is not "just" a emotional/spiritual challenge, but can be mainly a physical (chemical imbalance) problem as well.
Are you dealing with depression today as a Christian?
Seek your doctor's help.  If necessary, take the prescribed medication.
And - know that Jesus is here to help - and God's people are here as well.
Reach out to a brother or sister in Christ.  The absolute worst thing you can do in to withdraw and become a recluse. 
In her book, "Darkness is my only companion:  A Christian response to Mental Illness," Kathryn Green-McCreight describes her tortured journey through ten years of extreme depression and bi-polar disorder.  Concerning the importance of Christian fellowship while in recovery, she writes:
"This is why it is so important to worship in community - to ask your brothers and sister in Christ to pray for you - Sometimes you literally cannot make it on your own, and you need to borrow from the faith of those around you.
Sometimes I cannot even recite the Creed unless I am doing it in the context of worship, along with all the body of Christ.  When reciting the Creed, I borrow from the recitation of others.  Companionship in the Lord Jesus is powerful."
You and I never know who is hurting as they walk through the doors of the church on a Sunday morning.
We really do need each other.
We really do need to be real with one another.
We really do need to reach out to one another and encourage, support and pray for one another. 
Don't be fooled by the smiles and nice clothes that you see on a Sunday morning.  Behind every smile there could be someone who is really, really suffering - like Robin Williams.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

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