Thursday, 1 April 2010

Christianity and Depression

God moves in a mysterious way

Those are the opening lines of a hymn written by William Cowper, poet, hymn writer, friend of John Newton, evangelical Christian and manic depressive. Yes this renowned Christian hymn writer, who also wrote O for a closer walk with God was, like me, a Christian battling with depression.

Now too often mental illness is frowned upon in Christian circles as a sign of a weak faith – ‘If you really believed you would feel better’ ‘Cheer up, Jesus died for you.’ etc etc

I’m sure some of these comments are well meant but they miss the point – they are equating being a Christian with an emotional feeling. Faith is not built on feelings it is built on knowledge and understanding. If what we believe depends on what we feel that would mean that on the days when we felt bad God was irrelevant.

Now I can tell you that is wrong. When I was at my very lowest it was my faith in God that enabled me to keep going. I felt terrible but I was still aware of God’s presence and, most wonderfully, His sustaining love. Did this make me want to shout for joy? No, I was in no state to experience joy but it was a comfort to know He hadn’t given up on me.

Here is Cowper’s wonderful hymn in its entirety, read it carefully and you catch glimpses of his fight with depression and his unwavering faith in a loving God.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.


Sandy Groom MSW said...

What a beautiful title -- "Don't Leave your Brain at the Door." I have often said that I do not want to leave my brain at the church door or my faith at the university door. Both are so important.

The Lord does not reject us when we are depressed. Instead, he draws close to us during those dark and difficult times of life. Thanks for the reminder that our Lord does not look on us with disgust when we experience mental anguish or distress. I have created a blog called "Hope for Hurting Hearts." You can find me at

The Lord Bless You.
Thank you for a great blog.
Sandy G.

Still Breathing said...

Hello Sandy. Thank you for dropping into my blog; I've found yours now so should keep in touch.

Sorry it's taken a while to welcome you but, as you can see from my blog, life here has been rather hectic and is only just begining to calm down. Hopefully I'll get a post up in the next couple of days about our Good Friday service - that's how far behind I am at the moment.

God bless