Episcopal Diocese of Albany, NY
Business Office: 68 South Swan Street - Albany, NY 12210 - (518) 465-4737
Christ the King Spiritual Life Center: 575 Burton Road - Greenwich, NY 12834 - (518) 692-9550

Depression: Prayer and Prozac!

By The Rev. Nigel Mumford

And God gave skill to human beings that He might be glorified in His marvelous works. By them the physician heals and takes away pain, the pharmacist makes a mixture from them. God’s work will never be finished; and from Him health spread over all the earth. (Sirach 38)

A man complaining to his friend... “I just can’t take it any more”.
His friend says, “”Well, what’s wrong?”
He replies: “It’s my wife. Every time we have an argument, she gets historical.”
“You mean HYSTERICAL, don’t you?” the friend asks.
“No,” he says, “I mean HISTORICAL. Every argument we have, she always brings up the past.”

At first glance this scenario might be funny. But, if it is real, and the past is hurting you and are suffering from depression, read on.

This time of year we see a marked increase in depression at the Oratory of Christ the Healer. The dark mornings, dark evenings, the weather, the cold…. the list goes on and on. I will stop now before I get depressed! Sadly, the Christmas season can be a depressing time of year for some people. Some may slip into depression to require medication. Some get the “holiday blues”, and some suffer “Seasonal Affective Disorder”, with the appropriate acronym, SAD.

We all have ups and downs in life, but some spiral down into such a dark place that therapy, meds and prayer are very necessary. A place is visited in the mind that is so dark and familiar that the only way out is by letting someone help you. The old saying, “Pull yourself up by your boot straps” is just not appropriate. Help might be needed from a professional. Medication may be necessary. Josh billings wrote, “There is not a lot of fun in medicine but there is a lot of medicine in fun.” Agnes Sanford, the grandmother of the healing ministry as we know it today, suffered from depression for most of her life. She was eventually healed in the latter part of her life, having spent her last years in California living on the earthquake fault praying for the land. People who live on faults should pray a lot. She did!

The dictionary describes depression as a) act of depressing b) state of being depressed, and c) period of low economic activity. I am not a licensed therapist so I am not going to do a teaching on the DSM IV or go deeply into the cause and affect of depression, but if this article can help one person to seek help, I will have done my job. There are several symptoms of depression: unusually snappy, irritable, sleeping a lot, deep sadness, physical aches and pains, drinking and self medicating, change in the usual pattern of life, a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, appetitive and weight changes, sleep changes, keyed up or restless, loss of energy and self loathing. It is not surprising that studies have shown that people living with a depressed spouse have a terrific strain on there marriage.

The Bible writes that the two disciples walking to the village called Emmaus with the stranger were prevented from recognizing Jesus; He asked them what they were talking about. They stood still with downcast faces. I am sure their hearts were pierced with grief and a pall of depression gripped them. As Jesus broke the bread their eyes were opened. They recognized Him and the depression lifted. I wonder, in our loss, in our depression, are we also blind to the Christ? Are we so downcast that things are not what they seem? Are we so blind to the truth? Perhaps when the bread is broken we may see as Cleopas and the other disciple saw. Could this be the start of your healing? In recognizing the Christ who heals? In recognizing the hands that break the bread in receiving the body and the blood that heals even today? Take your depression to the Holy Eucharist. Give it to God. Here you are, God, I can’t do this, but you can!

I am sure there were several people in the Bible who suffered from depression. Do you think Job could have been depressed? How about Moses? He was a basket case you know! Would he have been a bit upset not knowing where he was going for forty years? He must have had a few rough nights! Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? How about the chap at the pool of Bethesda who sat there all those years, with no one to put him in the waters when they were bubbling? I am sure he was quite down in the dumps. Daniel in the lions den? Dinner? The list goes on… (By the way, that is where a certain well-known quote comes from. Daniel was in a cage with a lion on the left of him and a lion on the right. To use his time well he read from the scrolls. This is where the expression “reading between the lions” came from!)

Perhaps the man with great wealth was sad and depressed when Jesus commanded him to give away everything (Matthew 19) when he asked the teacher “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Joseph, on reading dreams: Joseph came to them the next morning and he saw that they were dejected! The Pharaoh’s officials ask, why are your faces so sad today? Nehemiah: I had not been sad in his presence before; so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” What a biblical diagnoses of depression! I am not sure that I agree with this one from Ecclesiastes: “Sorrow is better that laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart,” Proverbs writes in rebuttal; “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

There is much sadness and depression in the Bible, but even Job, the poor bloke, was healed. After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10). I like that verse. Even Jesus wept… at the death of Lazarus and over Jerusalem. (Of course, he was not depressed, but I am sure he was really sad at the human condition.)

Someone once asked me, “Can a Christian be depressed?” Yes, of course! The fact is, anyone can get depression. Some people I have met were even born depressed. Some have it passed down to future generations. Some “catch it” after a trauma, situations or issues in life. Depression can be a chemical imbalance of the brain. It can be generational, that is “pre-wired” for depression, or in our DNA. We might even “learn it” from a parent. I have seen it in children of the Nazi concentration camps survivors. During and post 9/11, even the dogs trained to find bodies at Ground Zero were depressed because they could not find any bodies! Depression can stem from trauma, post surgery, post partum depression after giving birth, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, moving, divorce. The list goes on and on.

My visual perspective on depression is like a black ping-pong ball being released on a track, spiraling down and down into the very depths of Hell. Something may trigger the release of the ball, or the ball may just be sitting somewhere along the path. Within the healing process, I see the ball being released, but bit by bit, the ball is stopped by the very hand of Christ. The journey of the ball is shortened as understanding and realization comes to mind. In other words, when you realize that the dark cloud of depression is building, like a threatening thunder storm, the journey of the ball is stopped. Over a period of time the ball might still be released, but the ball’s journey gets shorter and shorter until it cannot move anymore. A new joy, a new peace and the healing Grace of Christ slowly envelopes the cloud and stops the release of the black ping-pong ball to Hell! Perhaps in giving it a name and visual stimuli, this thought and the following prayer might help. Don’t forget to pray. Take your meds, bless your meds, and seek the face of Jesus. Perhaps you might like to learn the following prayer:

Oh God, the great physician, Jesus the healer and lover of souls, in and by the power of the Holy Spirit, please hear my very personal prayer in that I will be healed and transformed from the depths of depression. You came to set the captives free. Please release me from this depression. I humbly pray that the joy of the Lord will be my strength. Amen.

If you know someone who is depressed, why not send than this prayer? If you think you or a friend is clinically depressed, PLEASE go and get help. Depression needs to be treated. Go pick up the phone.

Jesus said to downhearted disciples in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Richard Rohr, a theologian and scholar wrote: “The law will give you the intellectual knowledge of God. Only the Holy Spirit will transform you…”Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours…” Mark 11:24

It was Sir Winston Churchill who said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going!” Be well, do good works and for God’s sake love one another.

In the perfect healing love of Jesus,
Fr. Nigel+

The Reverend Nigel Mumford is Director of CTK SLC Healing Ministries and a regular contributor to The Albany Episcopalian

Back to Index

Disciples Making Disciples

Beaver Cross | Christ the King Spiritual Life Center | Donate to the SLC
News | Find A Church | About The Church | Directories | Event Calendar
Find A Cleric | Documents | Our Ministries | Site Map

© 2000 - 2009 Episcopal Diocese of Albany New York, All Rights Reserved
Optimized for Mozilla Firefox 3