Top Ten (or so) Worst Things To Say To a Depressed Christian

Sometimes our friends and family, in an honest effort to help and/or express sympathy, offer us these Christian platitudes. The really irritating thing about it is that most of them, taken by themselves, can be or are true. It is often a great comfort to know that someone you love and who loves you is praying for you. However, many times these clichés are just spouted off by people who don't really have any idea what you are going through, and just want to avoid the problem. They don't realized that there are no easy answers.

(After each one, in parentheses, is a comment of my own; sometimes these are things I would like to say, but of course, never do.)

12. "Well, you haven't died for your faith, like the martyrs." (People who are hurting might respond by saying that they'd like to. If this is you, please visit the suicide information page.)

11. "Just turn it over to God." (How does one do that?)

10. "You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you depressed!" (Really? Like what? Seriously, even the most depressed and hurting person usually has things that they should/could be thankful for, but right then, they don't know how to do that.)

9. "Have you been praying/reading the Bible?" (Of course! Have you? The truth is that praying and reading the Bible can and often does help, but sometimes it doesn't. To read about Job or whatever can be a source of comfort, but also can just "pour salt in the wound," as it were. If you have experienced this, you know what I am talking about. If you haven't, pray that you never do.)

8. "Depression is a symptom of your sin against God." (This one really irritates me. Clinical depression is not a symptom of sin against God. It is a disease, often physically-based, which expresses itself through our emotions.)

7. This one is best executed with an evangelical-style handshake, i.e. one of my hands is imprisoned by two belonging to a beefy person who thinks he has a lot more charisma than I do: "Our thoughts and prayers are with you." (Who is "our?" So many people say they will pray for us, but how many really do? How many times do I really pray for people I say that to, myself? Think about it.)

6. "Well, we all have our cross to bear." (Really? Well here, take mine.)

5. "God didn't turn away from you; you turned away from God." (Why is it that whenever someone has difficulties or depression, there is all this talk about "turning away?" God didn't turn away from Job, and Job didn't turn away from God. Explain that.)

4. "Maybe there is unconfessed sin in your life." (While unconfessed sin or an unrepentant heart can indeed affect our spiritual lives, for most of us, by the time we get to the point where we feel we can no longer trust God, have gone through a virtual litany of sins, real and imagined, in an effort to make sure that there is no unconfessed sin in our lives. But we still hurt.)

3. "God doesn't desire to make you happy, he desires to make you holy." (We want to be holy, but sometimes the raw reality of our pain makes it impossible to focus on being holy. All we can focus on is the pain, and how to make it stop.)

2. "God wants you to think positively!" (Really? Where in the Bible does it say that? Right next to "God helps those who help themselves," and "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." Neither of these statements is in the Bible, and neither is "God wants you to think positively." Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale want us to think positively.)

The the number one worst thing to say to a Christian in pain is.....

1. "Let go and let God." (What, exactly, does this mean? How does one going about doing this? Does this mean that we are just supposed to forget about the problem, and assume that, without any action on our part, God will fix it? What if that doesn't happen?)


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