Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. Proverb 25:20 NIV
A friend was in deep sorrow due to the death of her husband whom she had loved so very much. She was doing everything she knew to do, but her depression remained. Well meaning friends would say things to her like, “Jane, you’ve got to stop this. Samuel would never want you feeling like this.” Jane said to me, “Do they think I am enjoying this? Do they fail to understand that I don’t want this sadness and aching in my heart day after day?”
There was a time when a family member was deep in depression and I recall saying to her, “You need to get outside, get some fresh air, take some walks, just do something to help yourself.” She hung up on me crying. That is carved deep in my memory. I knew immediately I had caused deeper pain; I had absolutely done the wrong thing. I wrote her a letter of apology, asking for forgiveness. Though I had not suffered depression and didn’t understand at all what it was like, I apparently assumed (unwittingly) that the reason I had not, was because I was smarter or stronger or something equally absurd. She got the help she needed and eventually got on top of things but it was sure from no help from me.
There is always a place for a Christian counselor in severe cases of depression, but this is about the kind of friends a depressed person needs during their trials. Probably paramount is the need for gentleness and security with anything they need to say. That person needs the safety of knowing anything they share will not be disclosed to anyone else. What that person does not need is meaningless prattle — someone talking without kindness or helpful direction. And the hurting one always needs prayer. To know someone is fervently praying and covering the individual with love is a gift beyond measure. That provides comfort and hope.
The New Living Translation puts Proverb 25:20 like this: Singing cheerful songs to a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing someone’s jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in a wound.
That’s a sobering and seriously important piece of wisdom.
Ernestine S Bonicelli said:
How true! I struggled with deep clinical depression years ago and some of the advice I got was just as discouraging and heart breaking. Even from godly people, who simply did not understand that depression was not self pity or wallowing in negative circumstances and feelings . There are different kinds of depression, therefore different kinds of treatment. But none of those treatments are “just stop it” or “boot strap it, you can do it”.
Pat Rowland said:
The best friend during a time of depression is one who has walked that pathway and overcome. Thanks, Ernestine. I have every certainty that you have helped others.
Jean Ann Williams said:
Thank you for being so honest, Pat.
I remember I lost a best friend, because she felt she was no good for me after my son died. It devastated me that I didn’t have her friendship to help me along.
God is so good, because he sent me more friends and especially one in particular who suffered from severe depression through out her lifetime. This brave woman gave so much to me, her love, her time, prayers, and her suggestions.
Thank you for another wonderful Prayful Ponderings, Pat.
God bless you!
Pat Rowland said:
As God gives, I write. I suspect someone read this who really, really needed it. That is what I felt when the Holy Spirit chose this writing for me to do.
Jean, you are ministering everyday to those who have suffered the severe loss of a child through suicide. This is bigger than I can comprehend. I admire you tremendously and am anxious to see the devotional book you are now writing to help those mothers who have gone through such a tragedy. I know it will be powerful. I love you, Jean.
Ernestine S Bonicelli said:
May God richly bless that book; it is needed. There are spirits loose in the world today that have not been in such abundance before I think. These dark spirits lie to people and seduce them into all kinds of anti-Scriptural behavior. They need to be exposed through people who have been their victims and we need to have a fresh revelation that God and His word are the only way to counteract the power of evil. I am also sure this precious sister has learned much about Romans 8:28 through her experience. There is a lovely woman of God in my church who had this awful experience and she has suffered much but is such a blessing, not only to our fellowship but other gatherings where she gives her testimony.