I’ve heard them all. Countless stories of people coming to Christ and losing all of their symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s a beautiful thing. I love hearing these hope-filled tales and wondering if I can be saved from the crippling effects of these diseases as well.
The problem is that they are not always the case. In fact, they are not even the norm. We hear from people all the time who say that if you just trust in God enough or pray enough that you will be delivered from these things. But this simply isn’t true.
Depression and anxiety are both diseases. They are diseases that are often set off by a particular life event, and they can take years, even decades to be completely healed from. Depression cannot be fixed by simply attempting to be happy. Anxiety does not go away by just telling ourselves we will be fine.
I constantly see stories in the media of someone struggling with cancer or some other awful disease who is considered strong because they trust in God even through their illness. They are still struggling, and they are still dying, but they know that God is good and has his hand in their life. Their faith is not defined by being rid of their affliction.
I’m here today to tell you that if you love God and still struggle with depression or anxiety, it’s okay. Because I do too. I’ve come to experience the confusing yet very real situation of being content and complete in Christ yet still feeling the weight of my depression. I’ve known complete trust and comfort in my Savior while still feeling anxious about many things. I’ve known my place in the Kingdom of God and my value in society yet still struggled with an adjustment disorder and feeling like I couldn’t cope with what was happening in the world around me. It can’t be helped. I feel that way because my brain is wired to feel that way, and while I know that God can and sometimes does change those things in our lives, I also know that he is still sovereign and perfect and worthy of my affection even if he doesn’t.
I’m also here to tell anybody reading this to stop blaming humans for what God chooses not to do. I’ve seen it in more situations than this. I’ve had people tell me to my face that if I’m depressed I’m not doing enough spiritually. I’ve heard people tell me that if you struggle with anxiety you don’t really trust God. I’ve had people say that if you struggle with homosexuality then you aren’t letting Christ change you. I’ve had people message me and tell me that they are offended by the fact that I used to cut myself and that I should have simply stopped and never done it again. Don’t be that person. Educate yourself, not only on diseases that are very real but on grace and forgiveness. Learn how to react to the struggles of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and don’t give promises of deliverance from God where you have no place.
I’m not ignorant, and I know that there are many things that we tend to make excuses for just because we struggle with a disease. I have a post coming soon on that very topic. Struggling with these things does not give us a free pass to give in to our temptations. But do know that you are allowed to be human and you are allowed to be imperfect. It is okay to love God and have a depressive disorder. Know that God is still perfect, even when he doesn’t do what we ask him to.