By: Nick “Tapobu” Rohlf
Christians should be happy. If you’re not happy, I seriously doubt your faith.
Ever heard that line? Anything like it? You’re not alone. Not even close. It is a staple of churches across the nation – perhaps across the world. On the surface, the message seems warm and welcoming. Join our Church, follow Jesus, and you will be a happier person! Right now you are suffering with all of life’s little problems because you just don’t have God in your life. If you just give your heart to Him and spend a little bit of your time with fellow believers each week, all your troubles will float away! It seems too good to be true, and it is.
I’m not going to deny that my faith has made me a happier person. It has. But a part of my faith includes understanding that life isn’t always going to go my way. Part of my faith includes understanding that God and I don’t always see eye to eye, and His will is more important than mine. Part of my faith involves moments of crippling doubt that make me stronger in the long run even though they’re pretty awful as they’re happening. Part of my faith involves knowing that someday God will lead me through moments that are terrible and awful and depressing.
Consider Elijah. Run out of his homeland by the people he’s trying to help, he stops at the foot of a tree and begs for God to let him die.
Consider Jeremiah. The poor man didn’t even want to be a prophet, and he’s tasked with the job of warning people of their impending doom.
Consider Christ. He knew from the very beginning where he was headed. In his final moments He asks God, please spare me from this if it is Your will. He then marches to death, knowing full well that if He doesn’t, everything will be forfeit. You think he was happy?
The fact is, sometimes bad things happen and they get us depressed. Or sometimes nothing goes wrong at all and we still get depressed. Christianity isn’t some vaccine that prevents us from catching the depression virus. It isn’t a force field that keeps out all negative thoughts. Sometimes things can go terribly, terribly wrong, and we have no choice but to seek help from doctors. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is, however, something terribly wrong with telling a depressed person that their pain is a sign of weakness. There is something wrong with telling a depressed person that they cannot possibly do God’s will until they are happy again. There is something truly and obscenely wrong with one who tells others to fear professional help. And quite frankly, if you are guilty of any of these aforementioned crimes, I wholly and sincerely doubt your faith.
To those suffering from depression, I just have this to say: It will get better. I don’t know when or where or how, but it will. You might fight and fight to try and make things better and still nothing happens, then someday you’ll wake up and everything will be ok for no reason whatsoever. That’s kinda how depression works sometimes. Do what is necessary to get through whatever it is bothering you. If that means locking yourself in your room, avoiding people, and ingesting high quantities of sugar, go for it. Been there, done that, stomach survived. If it means going to the doctor, do it. If it means checking into the hospital, do it. Been there, done that, stomach survived. Barely. The food is truly horrible. But do what you have to.