by Edward T. Welch
New Growth Press, 2004, 279 pages
Compassion - not what this book needs, but what it shows. Honestly, I would recommend anything I've ever read by this author, but what makes this book special is its compassion for both sufferers of depression and those who suffer seeing them suffer.
What sets this apart from many other books on depression is that it refuses to get caught up in debates about brain versus heart in depression. Whether depression is an organic illness or a spiritual problem, or both, it feels the same for those who suffer through it. The introductory chapters offer hope for the depressed; careful acknowledgement of how devastating it feels - by examining what many depressed people have written about their struggles; and a hint that even mental illness has a spiritual dimension.
Part One - Depression Is Suffering - does not simply validate how a depressed person feels, but also begins to reveal the Scriptural comfort for anyone who is suffering: God's presence; the psalmists' suffering and crying out to the Lord; Christ's suffering for us and before us; depression as a part of our spiritual warfare; depression as a clue to our need for proper purpose in life; and an urgent exhortation to persevere through suffering.
Part Two - Listening to Depression - shows us how depression exposes the failures and flaws of our culture and our own hearts in dealing with others, our own difficult negative emotions, and death itself.
Part Three - Other Help and Advice - deals straightforwardly with the use of medication to cope with depression; the help of family and friends; 20 ways for a depressed person to deal with their own depression; ways to avoid "helping" (think of Job's three friends - "Miserable comforters are you all!"); and the ultimate comfort for depression in its end when Christ comes again.
Part Four - Hope and Joy: Thinking God's Thoughts - shows how humility and thankfulness bring hope and joy to not only the depressed and those who suffer with them, but to all whom Christ has made His own - even when He does not yet take away their suffering.
Welch's Final Word is not his own, but God's - a word that summarizes Christ's tender exhortation to "all... who are heavy laden" to receive His rest. Read the book to find out exactly what that word is...
This is a soul-stirring book to give to anyone who is "heavy laden" with the burden of his or her own - or someone else's - depression.
You can pick up a copy at Amazon.com here and Amazon.ca here.