We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.
Are religious people as prone to depression and anxiety as the non-religious? Researchers the Pew Research Center studied the issue and divided survey-takers into three categories: the “actively religious,” who identify with a religion and attend a house of worship at least monthly; the “inactively religious,” who identify with a religion but attend less frequently; and the unaffiliated (or “nones”), who do not identify with any religion.
Here's what they discovered: Actively religious people are more likely than their less religious peers to describe themselves as "very happy".
Moreover, a half-century of research confirm that high levels of faith commitment correlate with lower levels of depression and stress, and give us a greater ability to cope with stress.
Knowing this, at the nexus of faith and living while black in America, is our faith failing us?
"A central component of optimal mental health for Black people is having the ability to cope with and combat racism and discrimination", writes Kevin Cokely, Ph.D., in an article entitled 'Promoting Black Mental Health and Wellness'.
Faith has always been the backbone of our ability to cope with the daily systemic and institutional inequities of our physical environment. Moving into the threshold of a new century, though, has exposed believers in the African American tradition to seminal sociopolitical events that are threatening to batter the very foundations of our faith in God.
Consider the following: In just the first two decades of the twentieth century, we have already experienced three life-altering events. A global pandemic. The rise of Trumpism. The execution of George of Floyd (and by extension the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Michael Brown).
On an psycho-emotional Richter scale, those three events alone would be considered earth-shattering, not to mention the daily challenges of racism embedded in American society.
How are we coping? Growing numbers of black believers are abandoning the faith, for others it is becoming more difficult to sustain hope. Many are reporting a type of depression of the the spiritual realm.
We are saved. But are we well?
When we discuss the phenomenon of spiritual depression, it is distinct from that of mental depression, which affects more than 40 million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
What is ‘spiritual’ depression? In 1965, Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones , a Protestant Welsh minister, wrote a book entitled Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cure. Dr. Jones, using Psalm 42:5 as his text, did not really give a hard definition of the malady but characterizes it as the way the psalmist deals with a major life event (which often forms the basis of depression), or “the way in which he faces the situation, and the way in which he deals with himself.”
Spiritual depression is generally the loss of vitality and joy which results from the daily incursion of living while black in America.
This is the linchpin of the malady: how we as believers deal with major life episodes. Should this be distinct from those of non-believers? Does the Christian have resources at his or her disposal that strengthen us in crisis which the non-believer does not have? The Bible clearly answers that in the affirmative.
Or, as Dr. Jones opines, “In a sense a depressed Christian is a contradiction in terms, and he is a very poor recommendation for the gospel".
Spiritual depression unfolds within a context of one’s relationship with God; specifically how one sees God and the ways in which we have been taught God sees us. If this context is made up of “bad theology” and “bad thinking”, it opens up a litany of opportunities for the enemy to expose our weaknesses.
We must remain strong at the vanguard of faith.
Reach Pastor C at email@example.com