Summary: How can we help someone who has Depression? This lesson answers this question by examining Job's interactions with his miserable comforters.
Today will be part two of our study titled “dealing with depression”. In my last lesson, we spent some time defining what depression is, the causes of it, and the remedy for it as we examined Job as our case study. I would encourage you to listen to that lesson if you were not here, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them.
Today I would like to go a little more in depth about a point I made in our prior lesson about the cure for Job’s depression. I stated that there was one thing Job desperately needed during his time of suffering: He needed good, caring comforters. Obviously, he didn’t get this from his friends. Job himself told his friends what they should have been doing for him. Obviously, since they had come to comfort him, he says in 16:4-5 that he could have, just as they are, built a case against them, but instead he says that he “would strengthen” them with his mouth and comfort them with his words. What his friends instead did for him is make his condition worse. They sent him into deeper sorrow and depression.
I would like to look at some of the things these “friends” of Job said to him when they came to comfort and counsel him so we can learn, as we try to encourage and counsel each other, how we too can be miserable comforters. Of course, Job’s friends came with good intentions, and for at least a week, did good in being there for their friend. But by the end of their time together, this is what Job had to say to his friends:
“Then Job answered and said: 2 "I have heard many such things; Miserable comforters are you all!” (Job 16:2)
If we want to help those who are suffering from depression we need to see in these friends what it is that we should not be doing. Our goal will be to do the opposite! But before we get into this lesson, I want to say this: although I will be focusing on how to help the person suffering from depression, many of the points I will share today can be used in the majority of circumstances in which we would sit down with a brother or sister in Christ to help them in their faith. Let’s keep this in mind as we examine the “help” that Job’s friends give him today.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP SOMEONE WITH DEPRESSION?
Everything we will look at today assumes the fact that the depressed person wants help… This may not be the case with the depressed person you know. One of the interesting paradoxes with depression is that many who are depressed know that they need the help of others, but they do whatever they can to isolate themselves and to push away those who want to help them, even using outbursts of anger to do so. It may seem at times that they are acting in a way that shows they are addicted to their emotional state, and even though they know it is not best for them to remain there, they may do whatever they can to stay there. They may think that this is the easier road to take. Overcoming their depression may seem to daunting a task that they don’t feel like they can do it. We need to be patient with them and help them overcome this obstacle.
And one final point before we get into the lesson: What is our goal in helping our brothers and sisters who are depressed? Is it to help them to be happy? The answer to this may shock you… Our purpose in helping the depressed person is not to make them happy. This is not our ultimate goal! Our purpose is two-fold: First, we want to obey our Lord in making a disciple of the one we are trying to help (Matthew 28:19-20). Secondly, our goal is to help them to fulfill their purpose as a disciple, “we make it our aim… to be well pleasing to Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). Fulfilling their purpose needs to be their first goal, not alleviating the depression…
This is very important because our help is unbiblical if it is focused on them; if it is focused on the depressed person and making them feel happy instead of pointing them to the Lord. We all need to remember that life is NOT all about us! It is about the Lord and Him being glorified in us! This is a big problem with a lot of secular counseling. It is all about the depressed person. It teaches the depressed people to think more about themselves instead of pointing them to their ultimate purpose and to the foundation that can help them to deal with the storms in their life. Society has led us to think that if we are feeling depressed, that if we feel like there is something wrong with us inside, that we are sick and that the first step we need to take is to go the doctor and get medicine to help us. But just because a lot of smart people say these kind of things does not make them true. I don’t believe this to be the Biblical response to our problems, including depression. We are to be disciples who point people, including our brethren suffering from depression, to the Lord.