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“Can a Christian be depressed?”

“Can a Christian be depressed?”

APRIL 29, 2022

/ Programs / Key Life / “Can a Christian be depressed?”

Steve Brown:
Can a Christian be depressed? The answer to that other questions, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
This is Key Life dedicated to the message that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. That teaching raises a lot of questions, so here’s author and seminary professor Steve Brown, along with Pete Alwinson from ForgeBibleStudy.com with answers to the Bible that’ll make you free.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Hi Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man. Happy Friday.

Steve Brown:
Happy Friday to you too. You depressed?

Pete Alwinson:
I’m not, today.

Steve Brown:
Me neither, today, but we’ll deal with that in a minute.

Pete Alwinson:
You got it.

Steve Brown:
That’s Pete Alwinson, by the way. And be sure and go to ForgeTruth.com. And the audio version is finally out after all these months of his book, Like Father Like Son. And if you would rather read a book by listening to it, get this. It’ll absolutely change your life. Like Father Like Son, and you can get some information on it by going to our website, KeyLife.org. And Pete comes in every week and we answer questions and we love this time, just sitting down and discussing things that you brought up, some of which we hadn’t thought about before. And, you can submit a question anytime you want. By calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE, 24 7, recording your question. And sometimes we put that on the air. Or you can send your question to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794

in Canada, it’s

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

or you can e-mail us at [email protected] And we will take you and your questions seriously. And by the way, if you’re going to help us financially. And I realize that not all of you can, but if you can help us financially, please do. And we’ll be faithful with your gift. We’re a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And those are organizations that oversee our monetary practices, to make sure that we’re ethical. And we were ethical before those organizations came along, but it’s nice to have them check off the box of Key Life. If you can’t help us, say a prayer, we understand. And Pete, why don’t you pray for us? And we’ll get to these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
Alright. Our great Father, we come into your presence today at the end of this week. And what a joy to stop for just a minute. And to remember that we belong to you and Lord, we give ourselves to you again. We love you, but it’s only because you first loved us. It’s only because you took the first step toward us and that Jesus, you came into this world to teach us to, to fulfill the law perfectly than to take our curse for us on the cross. So, we thank you for all that you have done in our life. And we come to you and ask that you would continue the great work you began. Lord, help us to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. And, then Lord fulfill us, with just your love and joy and peace. We give you those things that we cannot control, and we ask you to take them and work them out in your way. Be with our pastors and our leaders, priests this week-end, as they lead us in the all truth, be their worship leaders, Lord, what a joy to know that so many prepare to lead us into the throne room of the living God. So, we commit them to you. And even this time of Q&A now. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Steve Brown:
Amen. Pete, let’s go to our phone lines.

Caller 1:
I’ve lived long enough and sinned bad enough to have real problems. I guess at this point, I’ve buried the the babies and cleaned up after the suicides. And have been praised and betrayed and just have plenty of people that love me and plenty of people that hate me and think I’m horrible. And the scariest thing is they’re not even very wrong about that, so I was thinking about how you’re like literally the only person that I think I would believe, and you said that God wasn’t mad at me. Things are getting harder and I just want to keep going. I want to be faithful, but I also want to give up.

Steve Brown:
Oh man. I’ll tell you. That was hard to understand, but it’s a guy who’s obviously going through a tough time, who’s been rejected, who’s been down, who says, we say God’s not mad at him, but he sometimes thinks he is. And he is obviously depressed. And, I get that. I get where he’s coming from. Can a Christian be depressed?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. You know, we can, as a C.S. Lewis talks about in The Screwtape Letters, we have an undulation of our emotions. We’re fallen people. We experience great trauma and our emotions do go up and down and we can go into the dry valleys for a long period of time.

Steve Brown:
And sometimes the prescription that our religious friends give us, read the Bible more or pray more, just don’t work.

Pete Alwinson:
I know, I know. I read a great book recently by a secular counselor called, I Don’t Want to Talk About It. And, I liked the title because there’s a lot of things we don’t want to talk about it, but how often our childhood trauma is repressed into behavior that seems functional for awhile. And what he calls it as covert depression, how we press it down, and then eventually our strategies stopped working and they break down and he says, we’ve got to get through to what the trauma was, now as Christians we know, that once we can do that, we can bring that trauma to the Lord and he begin to heal us.

Steve Brown:
That’s true.

Pete Alwinson:
But boy, it’s very real. And so, depression can be that red light on the dashboard to say something’s wrong, let’s get some help.

Steve Brown:
And to this person who called, I’ve been there and I’ve done that. So. I know what you’re going through and that old statement of don’t doubt in the dark, what God taught you in the light is really important. And I have a friend who says that don’t doubt in the light, what God taught you in the dark, which I agree with too. But I would say to him, look, look at your own personal issues. If you have to do that with somebody else, do it. And don’t deny medication. Sometimes that does make a difference in people. I was preaching in Atlanta one time and just off the cuff, I said, I believe, I said what you said, Christians can get depressed. And I believe that God has given us certain medications that help, that’ll maybe get over a hump because this is hard place to live right now. And a guy came up to me, a very successful businessman and we became friends, but he said, Steve, I’ve never heard a pastor say that before. And he said, I’m going to send you one of my mugs. And he sent me the mug and it’s a good looking mug, but the statement on the front of it in red says, Prozac until Jesus returns. And that’s why God gives us each other because in those times, you know, when I’m down, you come in and I feel better about the world because you preach the gospel to me. And that’s what we’re supposed to do for each other.

Pete Alwinson:
Really, that’s true, to encourage each other, to bear with one another, to love one another, all the one, another commands in the New Testament

Steve Brown:
Are so important

Pete Alwinson:
are so important. And so yes we can get depressed. Yes, there are means that the Holy Spirit can use to heal us. But this is like you said, a difficult place to be.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, it really is not for sissies.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
So, hang on. It’ll pass. And, when it does go find somebody else who’s going through what you just went through and become the person who comes alongside to help them. This, in 20 words or less, is the Bible true? That’s an e-mail.

Pete Alwinson:
Absolutely. It is. Yeah. And you know, one of the, I love to just put it out there. Why do we believe it’s true? Well, I mean, the unity of the Bible, how it hangs together Genesis to Revelation is one reason.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, we just interviewed Eric Metaxas on, he has a new book called Is Atheism Dead?

Pete Alwinson:
It’s great. My wife just finished it and I’m reading it and it’s good.

Steve Brown:
You know, he just, he says, look if you’re an atheist, there’s something wrong with you. You do. And he spends a lot of time talking to him about the veracity of the Bible. And it’s really, it’s really a very good book.

Pete Alwinson:
It is so powerful. It has the ring of truth, as J.B. Phillips wrote years ago. You read it and you find truth.

Steve Brown:
Who is responsible when bad things happen?

Pete Alwinson:
It’s not your pastor.

Steve Brown:
No. It’s not your wife or your husband.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. It’s not.

Steve Brown:
It’s you buster.

Pete Alwinson:
Well, it depends. Right? There’s that answer, it depends.

Steve Brown:
Ultimately, God’s responsible.

Pete Alwinson:
Okay.

Steve Brown:
He really is. And you know, once you get that, it makes slights, it makes sin, it makes pain, it makes cancer diagnosis, it makes the loss of a loved one. All of the dark things, once you get that, are bearable, if you know, they went through the hands, the nail scarred and of Jesus himself.

Pete Alwinson:
I like that, but that is a place that a lot of Christians never get.

Steve Brown:
I know.

Pete Alwinson:
And they’re constantly blaming God, I’m mad at God right now. We can be mad at God.

Steve Brown:
Sure.

Pete Alwinson:
But they stay mad at God. And part of the reason is that they don’t understand that he’s absolutely sovereign. And at the same time, he’s absolutely good.

Steve Brown:
So true. You know, I’ve just turned in the manuscript, as a matter of fact, of a book that deals with those issues called Laughter and Lament: The Touchstones of Radical Freedom. And, what I learned in working on that book, is just what you said, you know, I have trouble with that myself.

Pete Alwinson:
Yes.

Steve Brown:
You know, I, you and I have been pastors for a hundred years, both of us, and we’ve stood beside graves of children and wept with parents. We’ve listened to tragedy, after tragedy, after tragedy. And it’s painful. It’s awful.

Pete Alwinson:
It is.

Steve Brown:
And the only answer is from God, I’m here. I love you. I know what I’m doing, trust me, even when it hurts.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. And, that is so powerfully true. Is God going to do anything about it? He has in Jesus.

Steve Brown:
Yeah. He really has. And it’s so, you know, to talk about it sounds glib. It’s really not.

Pete Alwinson:
No.

Steve Brown:
You know, the alternative to that is absolute meaninglessness.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s absolutely true. It’s Nihilism in its purest form.

Steve Brown:
Exactly. Nihilism on steroids.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. But he is sovereign. He is good. He does know what’s going on. The world is not out of control, of his control.

Steve Brown:
And one of the good things about being a pastor all those years is that we so often saw the rest of the story. We saw God’s hand in it. We saw what God did. And we said to him, oh, I didn’t understand. But now I do.

Pete Alwinson:
Right.

Steve Brown:
And someday in heaven, we’re going to say that about everything. Oh, I didn’t understand, but now I do. Time to go, but first Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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