Depression: Resources for a Bleak Midwinter

A well-known Christian counselor in Philadelphia was asked last week how he was doing. His response: “I’m very tired.”

Why was that? Was his counseling load too heavy? “No,” he answered. “I’m tired because I have to keep shoveling snow.” 

The 2013–2014 winter is the fifth snowiest on record for the eastern two-thirds of the country, even as the west is experiencing a severe drought. Right now, as I write this blog post from a hotel in Newport, Rhode Island, I’m watching the snow sweep in again and hearing the strange sounds of thundersnow (yes, there is such a thing).

Licensed for use by Creative Commons by Flickr user NASA Earth Observatory

That counselor who was tired of all the snow, Ed Welch, of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation of Philadelphia, says that the emotional condition of depression tends to peak around now—during the holidays and then after, in the early months of the new year. 

Are you struggling with depression? How would you know? If you’re feeling sad and those feelings are interfering with your work, sleep, eating, and things that you once considered fun, and especially if you’re surprised by suicidal thoughts—the idea occurs to you that not living might be better than current struggles in your life—then you might be suffering from depression.

You ‘might not have noticed a downhill turn of their emotions, but all of a sudden … [you] notice a certain hopelessness that creeps in and says, “Why bother living?”‘ —Ed Welch

Welch says that these dour feelings tell a story: “I’m a jerk, God is far away, I am all alone, nobody cares, and if they say they care, I don’t believe them.” 

If you’re suffering from depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder and the winter storms are only making it worse, it might be tempting to try to hold out until the light and warmth of spring and summer. Rather than look to outside circumstances to affect the heart, though, we must look to God.

Pray that God would tell your heart a different story: I love you, I am with you, I care deeply about your hurt and pain.

Here are some resources that we pray will give your aching heart a glimmer of hope:

And remember, as Welch says, “The normal Christian life is one that feels like we can barely make it. It’s not unusual.” You’re not alone. Your grief is not unusual. 

Since suffering is normal, then Jesus surely knows and sees your pain. We want to leave you with words that are more powerful than any words we could write. Listen to what He says to you in His word:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. —John 14:27

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39

Lindsey M. Roberts is the editor of the All About Jesus blog. She spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything—cleaning the kitchen three times a day, delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket, describing the flavor profiles of different coffees—is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and son in Virginia.

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