Real Christians don’t get the ‘flu. Getting the ‘flu means you don’t have enough faith and it’s probably a manifestation of the unconfessed sins in your life. Sometimes the ‘flu can be a sign of demon possession.
Sound ridiculous, right?
So why does it seem any less ridiculous when applied to clinical depression?
Why is it normal to think of a mental illness as a manifestation of unconfessed sin, when we don’t apply the same logic to physical ailments?
Ultimately, the entry of sin into the world is responsible for all ills.
Unconfessed sin messes us all up – but I’m pretty convinced that the causes of depression are more complicated than that. Childhood, environment, work and genetics can all contribute to someone developing depression.
It breaks my heart that hurting and broken people are told by the Church that it is their own fault they are suffering from depression.
This year’s World Mental Health Day today is focussing on depression as a global crisis and while the manifestations may differ from culture to culture, person to person, the devastation of depression is as real for those in Africa as it is in Amersham.
It isn’t feeling depressed because your favourite got voted off The X Factor or your football team was relegated. Depression is characterised by total darkness.
The draining of colour and the loss of hope.
So when the light at the end of the tunnel is extinguished and the torch batteries have run out – it surely must be the task of the Church to point to a light that doesn’t fade.
It’s a light that helps people to hold on in the dark.
It isn’t the job of the Church to be psychiatrists or mental health workers – it is the job of the Church to be a lighthouse to the lost.