Depression in the Life of a Pastor

I will never forget the painful sadness I felt as a child. It made no sense to me. While a lot of kids I knew were care-free, I was struggling to find joy or happiness at times. The feeling never left through middle school or high school. It lingered and lurked. Even as I began to experiment with various “Christian” methods of attempting to eradicate it from my life, it never went away. I would spend hours reading Scripture and praying warfare prayers, only to discover its ugly presence remaining in my life. That ugly thing is called depression.

I thought I might “outgrow” depression. Maybe I could move somewhere else, get married, get that church job I always dreamed of, or make more money, and all the depression would disappear. It didn’t. I remained silent for decades because I was told depression and the Christian life do not mix. Surely I had a demon, reigning sin in my life, or a pathetic lack of faith. Some would say everything would just be better if I would repent. I can assure you I did everything I knew to do.

In 2010, I got brave. God placed me on staff with a wonderful co-laborer who had been a senior pastor for 20 years became taking this associate role. He was publicly open about his struggle, giving me the courage to be open about mine. That began a few years of me being a guinea pig medically before I received the proper treatment. I wish I could say everything is perfect now. I must admit I am at another low point, but I know the fog will lift as it has done many times before. The beautiful thing is I am not the only servant of God who has experienced this struggle. Scripture actually talks about depression.

For years, I have heard preachers bash the prophet Elijah. After the great victory which he witnessed firsthand at Mount Carmel, he crashes. Jezebel, the queen, is out to kill him, and Elijah cannot see the light of day. He believes he will be killed anyway, so he is ready to die. In the midst of this dark time for Elijah, an angel of the Lord visits him, provides nourishment for him, and God speaks to him in a still small voice. God could have done like many haughty saints and rebuked the snot out of him, but God did not. God ministered to Elijah at his low point and refueled him for ministry.

Are you struggling with depression? You are not alone! Even the “choicest” of God’s servants have. They are no better or worse than you. God stands ready to meet you during your dark night of the soul. Let Him wrap His loving arms around you, letting you know He’s got this!

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