Where is God when I'm depressed?
My wife has clinical depression and it’s really hard on her because she has always drawn a lot of strength and inspiration from prayer and now she says she can barely bring herself to really pray in any meaningful way. She understands that it is her disease that is causing her to feel this way but in her heart I think she feels a lot of guilt and despair at this loss of connection and at her inability to open herself up to Christ.
I am not sure how to help her. I want to know if Christian counseling might be something that could help her to find her way again.
Penny Bell Says ...
Yes, even Christians, praying Christians, can become depressed. Unfortunately, along with grace, love and forgiveness, we learn very quickly in our Christian walk that negativity is a no-no, and that we must always be up and positive, because we are "living letters" to the world that tell about God's gifts of joy and happiness. The truth is though that we are human beings, fragile and vulnerable emotionally, psychologically and neurologically to anxiety and depression, particularly in these last few decades where the pressure is on to be and do as our fast-paced society dictates.
It's great that you are seeking solutions for your wife, because it shows that you are a caring and compassionate husband, which is what she needs right now. When depression takes over one's life, emotions and experiences take on a kind of grey colour - enjoyment of any kind is elusive, and an underlying sadness persists, day in and day out. There's a numbing or blunting of the good feelings we would normally receive when we accomplish something or feel loved or connect with others. That numbing also affects our relationship with God.
I'm wondering if the guilt you suspect your wife feels is connected to this philosophy of positivity that I referred to earlier. Sometimes we need to examine the tyranny of the "shoulds" in our lives and change our thinking from "I should be able to pray and connect to God and find his joy in that" to "it would be great if I could feel connected to God, be positive and enjoy my prayer time as I did before, but right now I'm stricken with an illness called depression which makes that very difficult".
A Christian counsellor may indeed be helpful here, as he or she could assist your wife to forgive and accept herself as she is at this time, examining the "should" messages she holds and dispensing with them, and supporting her in her quest to restore those parts of herself overshadowed by depression, the empowering prayerful part being the primary objective.
Another powerful contribution would be the support, and prayer support, of Christian friends. Often when a person becomes depressed friends find it hard to know what to say or how to be with the depressed person. The joyfulness of the relationship has diminished and it can become baffling and some may give up. As well, the depressed person tends to isolate, thinking they are rotten company anyway. But the support of friends is one of the things that can help your wife through this, and you may have a part to play here by encouraging her to stay connected to her friends.