It’s a short little book, only 112 pages and it will take you about an hour to read. “Christians Get Depressed Too” by David Murray, is a book that every Christian with a heart for those who struggle with depression or anxiety should read.
David Murray writes with the hope that he can oppose and correct the very common thought that “Christians don’t get depressed!” His book is divided into six chapters, neatly with headings beginning with the letter ‘c’; The Crisis, The Complexity, The Condition, The Causes, The Cures and The Caregiver.
Murray is a professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at the Puritan Reformed Seminary and so writes this book with sound biblical references peppered with personal experience as he says, “I have had close and painful experience with depression. anxiety and panic attacks among friend and some of those I love most in this world.”
In the first chapter, Murray goes through eight reasons why we should even study the subject at all. He then goes into how we should study depression, and it’s quite simple – without dogmatism (big word for believing in something without considering the opinions of others), by seeking humility, avoiding extreme beliefs about it (it’s all physical, it’s all mental, it’s all spiritual) and to seek balance. He says, “For Christians, there will often need to be a balance between medicines for the brain, rest for the body, counsel for the mind, and spiritual encouragement for the soul.”
In the third chapter, Murray goes on to explain what depression is, and what the symptoms are. He aims to show, “from Scripture that such symptoms are not only compatible with being a Christian but are also found in some of the most eminent Bible characters.” Changes in life situations, unhelpful thought patterns are just a few of the ways depression works itself out in life.
The following two chapters were probably the most helpful to me; the Causes of depression (Stress: life events and lifestyle, Psychology: false thought patterns, Sin and Sickness) and the Cures for depression (Correct your Lifestyle, Correct your False Thoughts, Correct your Brain Chemistry and Correct your Spiritual Life) Murray does not shy away from the thought that Christians need counsellors and medical practitioners as well as spiritual guidance from church members to get better. He also does not mince his words when dealing with the thought that “depression is just sin and so you need to repent, make your life right before God and you’ll get better” (paraphrased by me) He notes, “If we come to the point that our default position in dealing with the causes of depression is that it is sin until proven otherwise, we are getting painfully close to the disciples’ position, “Master, who did sin, this man or his parents?” John 9:2 It is also a position that is somewhat akin to the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, in which the diagnosis for trials is personal sin and the prescription is more repentance and faith.”
The final chapter “The Caregivers” offers practical advice to anyone close to someone struggling with depression. Study about the illness, offer sympathy and support, quash the stigma, be a confidant, build self-esteem, remind the sufferer about biblical truths, refrain from repeating hurtful and damaging cliches, speak openly about suicide and be patient with the time frame of recovery.
In one of the final paragraphs of the book, David Murray reminds us to, “Take our depressed Christian brethren continually before the throne of grace and plead, ‘Lord, he whom Thou lovest is sick.’ ”
Overall, this book was easy to read, it contained plenty of biblical backup and countless references to other books you could read if you were interested in knowing more about how to deal with depression. I’d suggest you buy two copies immediately – one for you and one for a friend. You won’t be disappointed with this little gem.