I have recently been reading the book When The Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper. This isn’t going to be a full review of it, so if you would like to read one please visit Irish Calvinist , where you will find a good review of the whole work. I recommend you do so, it’s a good blog.
A few things struck me as I read this book. The most relevant for this blog being what Piper has to say regarding evangelism and the depressed Christian. As anyone out there who has suffered a depressive illness will know, the last thing you feel up to concerning yourself with when you are struggling to make it through the day without losing your grip is sharing your faith with others. This is entirely understandable, but can present you with an opportunity to do something that may aid you in your recovery. As Piper suggests:
“Millions of Christians live with a low-grade feeling of guilt for not openly commending Christ by their words. They try to persuade themselves that keeping their noses morally clean is a witness to Christ. The problem with this notion is that millions of unbelievers keep their noses morally clean. Christians will – and should- continue to feel bad for not sharing their faith. Christ is the most glorious person in the world. His salvation is infinitely valuable. Everyone in the world needs it. Horrific consequences await those who do not believe on Jesus. By grace alone we have seen him, believed on him, and now love him. Therefore, not to speak of Christ to unbelievers, and not to care about our city or the unreached peoples of the world is so contradictory to Christ’s worth, people’s plight and our joy that it sends the quiet message to our souls day after day: This saviour and this salvation do not mean to you what you say they do. To maintain great joy in Christ in the face of that persistent message is impossible.” (Piper; When the Darkness Will Not Lift, page 65)
I myself am currently recovering from post natal depression, and have suffered from depression on more than one other occasion and I appreciated this page immensely. In the context of the book, it didn’t make me feel guilty (or I should say more guilty) for not sharing my faith, but rather reaffirmed what I knew to be true: The gospel is the source of great joy for all of us, and sharing it with others brings it into constant focus for ourselves, reinforcing the deep joy that sometimes is lying dormant within a depressed believer. I would encourage all Christians who suffer from depression, as well as their family and friends, to read this book. It gives a helpful, scripturally based take on the problem, and I think a helpful set of guidelines for someone caring for a depressed person.