Christians Get Depressed Too, David Murray, Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010. Paperback, 112 pages, $10.00
Dr. David Murray is rapidly becoming well-known. He blogs regularly (headhearthand.org), does a podcast with Tim Challies, is a regular Facebook user, video producer, and preacher. Besides all that, he finds time to teach Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Theological Seminary, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Murray has developed a reputation for being theologically astute, biblically faithful, and pastorally sensitive. All of those qualities come together in this short book on a tough subject.
There is a perception out there that depression is, at its roots, a spiritual problem. According to this perception, people become depressed because they have done something sinful. A true and faithful Christian would never get depressed. Part of Murray’s burden in this book is to dismantle that perception. He does that with an open Bible, explaining how godly believers in both Testaments struggled with this problem.
The author goes on to outline how complex depression is – there are no trite and easy answers. He describes the problem in a way that will be helpful for those trying to understand it. He also gives hope, comfort, and help for those who are suffering. Again, all of this is grounded in the Word of God. Yes, Murray believes that Christians can learn from medical science and he attempts to incorporate some of those insights into this book. He is also firmly convinced that medication can not only alleviate symptoms, but also address the causes of depression in many cases.
There are a lot of people out there who struggle with this ailment. In severe cases, it can be debilitating. It’s hard to know what to say or do if you’re watching someone go through it. Those who want to help should read this book. And don’t be afraid to buy a copy for the person suffering either. It may give the encouragement and help they need. The book is short enough so as not to be intimidating and written clearly enough so as not to be misunderstood.
I’ve read and reviewed several books on this subject over the years. I’ve learned that depression is a dark and ugly consequence of the fall into sin. It is no less a part of this world of dysfunction than is cancer. At the same, I’ve learned (and Murray’s book has reinforced this) that depression reminds us of how little we know about the workings of the human brain and how it relates to our non-material aspect (our soul). Finally, I’ve become convinced that God brings trials (including depression) our way so as to shape, teach, and lead us. This little book brings us back to the Word through which that all happens.