Terry’s Take… June Week 3: Depression
Sometimes when I am not feeling my best, either physically or emotionally, I become very self-accusatory. I’m hard on myself. Perhaps you have experienced the same thing. “I need to just kick myself in the pants and get going!” In thinking more about this I think it is based on a common misconception:
Misconception: Depression is just an excuse for laziness or not doing your “Christian duty.”
Variation: You are letting God and your church down if you are too depressed to serve or minister.
Reality: God loves you however much you do to serve Him.
People who are depressed are already dealing with enough without also being shamed for not doing “enough.”
Churches often rally around people going through physical illness, bringing them meals and showing them grace. Sadly, mental illness is often met with judgment instead of compassion and support.
Not only is this unhelpful, it’s unbiblical. Depressed or not, your relationship with God is more important than doing or serving. We see this in Jesus’ interaction with two sisters named Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42 (NLT):
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed— or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
God is more concerned with your heart and obedience than how much you serve at church. Remember… Your service for God is an expression of the change He has brought about in your life… rather than a strategy for winning His favour.
But no matter what anyone says, having a relationship with God is not about what you can do for God. He’s already done everything through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, so once you have a relationship with God, you cannot lose it by failing to do religious things.
Depression can make it very difficult to accomplish the tasks of day-to-day life, including ministry. You may be in a season in your life when you need to focus on seeking healing from your mental illness and let some other commitments go. That’s okay.
Even if you cannot serve in your normal roles at church or minister in any way, God still loves you.
No one should try to guilt or shame you for not being able to do what you would normally do as your Christian service.