I have often heard it said to someone who is depressed, “turn it all over to God.”
While I understand the assumptions and theology behind the assurance, the notion of an “all powerful God,” this encouragement may not automatically be helpful.
Depression often involves prolonged and intense discouragement, hopelessness, and powerlessness. In reality, we are not as powerless as we sometimes feel. We have been given a greater gift: the ability to choose.
During a crisis, these available choices may not be readily apparent when depressed, nor, easy to make, just as there are choices not ours to make, such as reversing the loss of a loved one. Ours is a journey to discern the difference. Depression is not a sin nor lack of faith nor failure. Whatever the situation, re-claiming and maintaining a sense of self-efficacy is crucial.
Recovery often involves making empowering choices, not encouraging greater helplessness, dependency, and powerlessness. Turning it all over can be heard by some as confirmation of their utter helplessness. While such words may be seen as promoting faith, they can also exacerbate depression and be perceived as yet another failure – a failure to be faithful enough.
We can support persons struggling with depression to find their own inner strength to make the difficult choices which empower and create renewed hope and safety. This would be my petition for depression for a person of faith:
Lord, empower me with courage and hope. Guide me as I claim and use the power already entrusted in me, to make the often difficult choices that will bring back my life of abundant joy and contentment. Help me be patient with myself in that journey. I am reassured of comforting presence even when I feel so alone.
Where there is despair, show me comfort.
Where there is weariness, show me strength.
Where there is pain, show me relief.
Where there is loneliness, show me companionship.
This too shall pass, even as my choices unfold before me.
© 2015 Dr. Daniel L. Baney