This short, helpful book deals with a topic not often mentioned in churches: depression. For several reasons, this book makes an accessible guide for anyone who is depressed (Christian or not) or for anyone who knows someone who is depressed.
Murray takes a great deal of time explaining how widespread depression is in our country and in our churches and thus its need to be considered. Despite its pervasiveness, most Christians know little about it. This book helps both those who suffer from depression and the ‘caregiver’ to clearly understand what they are dealing with. Murray points to Scripture to show that there are people who at least “manifested many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety.” (2) If you know little or nothing about depression besides the stereotypical notions, this book serves as a great first step in bringing clarity to the issue.
Is the cause of depression all physical? Spiritual? Murray explains well the differences in opinion among Christians about the appropriate use for secular pyschological theories and articulates a balance. Some argue that depression is all physical thus all that is needed is physical treatment. Others argue that it is (almost) always a spiritual issue and thus what is needed is a serious look of spiritual issues in the person’s life. Murray states that neither extreme is right. Rather, he argues, we must understand that depression, like heart disease or cancer, is usually a physical issue that sometimes has a spiritual component. Both need to be addressed. I found Murray’s balance to be generally helpful. When helping a person walk through depression it is absolutely necessary to not make assumptions about why the person is experiencing such darkness. They may need guidance through real spiritual issues and matters of sin, or they may need to see a medical professional who can advise them further. Or both. Murray encourages us to walk slowly and not make assumptions.
Without oversimplifying, Murray offers some common causes and helpful cures for depression. I will definitely use these two chapters for future reference when helping walk someone through this. There are mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual issues that must be addressed when dealing with depression. Murray provides some practical questions and thoughts to understand the cause and hopefully arrive at a cure.
In the end I would recommend this book to anyone who is seeking to help someone they know through depression. (The last chapter provides some great exhortations for the caregiver.) It is short enough to not be overwhelming but long enough to provide a sufficient foundation for understanding depression. I would most likely give this book to a person struggling with depression but would want to walk through it with them.
Sometimes God calls us to walk through the darkness and this book serves as a great tool in that struggle. Murray points the reader to Scripture and ultimately to Christ, who is the Great Healer.