Monday, March 6, 2023

Devotionals for the Heart: How to support someone who has depression

How to Be an Ally for Someone with Depression
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

Depression is a vicious beast. It steals sunshine on days we desperately crave it and sets the mind on trajectories that seem to have no finish line.

I know this all too well, as I have a number of loved ones who struggle with depression, including my teenage daughter.

One thing that hurts my heart is the way we Christians can, even innocently and unintentionally, minimize the feelings and the daily struggle of those who battle depression. I know I’ve done this myself, even as I strive to be an ally and supportive sister in Christ. The truth is I don’t understand their plight because I don’t have depression myself. And while I can relate, having been through depressive periods in my life and valleys that had me on my knees crying out to the Lord, it’s really not the same.

For some of my loved ones, depression looks like an almost constant fight. Some days are good, but some are not. And on the bad days, it feels like there will never be a bright tomorrow in this earthly world. Meanwhile, those without the disorder seem almost radiant in comparison, as if they have no cares in the world and an almost oppressively positive outlook.

Then there are the offhandedly judgy comments or suggestions my depressed loved ones have to experience…“What do you have to be depressed about? Just smile.” “You know, if you just prayed more or had more faith….” “You don’t really need medicine.” “Perhaps if you went for a walk, or joined this gym….” “Have you considered volunteering? Staying busy keeps your mind off yourself.”

The thing is, most people who battle depression have tried and continue to try all these. Their faith is strong, but the chemicals in their brain are on overdrive, resulting in a serious medical illness that negatively affects how they feel, think, and act. Sometimes, getting out of bed is a struggle.

I’m convinced that depression, as well as other physical and mental illness, are things the evil one uses to get a foothold and sabotage us in a persistent effort to wage war for souls. We all know there is a spiritual war going on, and some of us see it—I know I do. My eyes have been opened, and it’s waging all around us. Cancer, depression, all sorts of things are chinks in our armor as we join forces with other followers of Jesus Christ to stand strong for the Lord, for good, against evil.

But they are also chinks that God can use for His glory, for as Romans 8:28 promises, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT).

God has a purpose and a job, sometimes many jobs, for each of us in God’s mighty and heavenly army, even those of us still alive on earth. But that purpose is not always obvious, and sometimes—especially when depression blinds us to even the possibility that we might have such a purpose—we lose sight. The battle is hard. The dark is oppressive.

But we are children of the light, even if we don’t always feel that way because of the mood disorders or physical ailments we fight.

I’ve found there are things that can help people experiencing depression. Just like people battling diabetes are helped with insulin, or cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, people with depression often are helped by medication and therapy. A nutritious diet and daily exercise, even just light walking, also can be a tremendous help. It might not improve things significantly, but it can keep things from getting much, much worse.

But solidarity helps, too. Knowing they have the support, sympathy, and empathy of other people can be huge. Knowing they have value in spite of their illness feels good and encourages them to press on.

It also helps to understand other people who have made a difference in God’s kingdom battled depression, too—people like Moses, King David, the prophet Elijah, the prophet Jeremiah, and many others. I wrote an article as few years ago for that dives into what the Bible says about depression, and it helps me to know other people God has used also experienced depression, anxiety, and other things:

If you struggle with depression, whether because it’s an extraordinarily difficult period in your life right now or because you have a long-term mood disorder, please know I’m praying for you. And if I can pray for you specifically, please reach out.

If you love someone with depression, keep praying for them and loving them. Their battle can be invisible, but it is fully real and incredibly difficult.

Remember: When one of us in the body of Christ hurts, we all hurt. Let’s come together in love and support, whatever that looks like. Together, may we heed the words the apostle Paul wrote to his young mentee, Timothy, as we strive to bring heaven on earth for eternity:

“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 NLT).

Let’s Pray: Lord, help me to be a supportive ally to my Christian brothers and sisters struggling with depression. Help me to wage war against evil with them and not be yet another stumbling block they must endure. Use me for Your ultimate glory, Lord. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Better” by Jessica Reedy. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.

She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at She has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

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