The following is a brief overview of Welch’s Book Depression: A Stubborn Darkness
While the immediate sources of depression are many, the ultimate understanding of depression must be in the context of one’s place before and relationship with God.
Causation: Depression does not stem from a single cause – nor do all depressions have the same form (14). God has never prescribed a happy life, nor does God legislate emotions (15). Suffering, which is the larger category to which depression relates, may stem from several sources: any of the aspects of creation which God curses (our bodies, our-selves, other humans, Satan) or even God, himself (27, 31-32, 38-41, 42-44). Any particular depression may stem from multiple causes (41).
Depression stems from an interaction of external events and internal beliefs (106). This interchange occurs in the heart, which Welch breaks out as follows: spiritual allegiances; imaginations, desires, motives; thoughts and feelings; actions. This two-step process lies at the heart of Welch’s analysis of depression.
Things outside our control
Things that come at use
Internal beliefs and interpretations
Things we can change
Things that come out of us.
The Unveiled Heart: “One of the problems with the heart is that it is difficult to know it” (133). Depression exposes the heart, which can lead us to change:
When we see something of our own hearts, we are in a position to grow and change. However hard it is to have our innermost being exposed, it is a necessary part of the path of blessing. (135)
Ultimately God: Fortunately, it is not necessary to know precisely what caused a particular depression (43). We ultimately deal with God – and thus depression must be seen in light of this relationship (43, 46). The misunderstanding which contributes to our depression ultimately entails errors in our understanding of God (136).
Depression may unveil fears (chapter 15), anger (Chapter 16, “Sadness + Anger = Depression”), loss of hope (Chapter 17), failure and shame (Chapter 18), guilt and legalism (chapter 19) and death (chapter 20).
Jesus willingly entered into our pain and partook of those things which could bring depression (47-50). To have seen the difficulty suffered by Jesus will take us out of ourselves (a self-centeredness) and permit us to see more clearly of God and his goodness (47-50). This teaches us that life will not be easy for us, and that difficulty is not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure (51-52).
Sin is the real problem – far more profoundly than any depression (76). Thus, resolution of sin is foundational to the resolution of any pain (reminds me of the progression of ideas in It Is Well With My Soul). God is the only true basis for hope (78). Our purpose in life is to fear God and keep his commandments (82). The primary commandments we are to keep: love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; love our neighbor as ourselves. “Fight the spiritual battles that accompany depression so that you can love other people” (85).
Depression seeks surrender: God calls us to persevere (91). “What you thought was a path of life now looks more like a battlefield. Satan’s strategy is to wear you down. You remember the cross one day and [sic] Satan is content to wait for tomorrow” (97). Perseverance derives from and leads to knowledge and grounding (faith, trust, hope, love) in God (99).
Thus, to deal rightly with depression, we will need to become worshippers (55). Since we will not want to worship while depressed, we should liturgically use the Psalms to structure our worship before God (56). The Psalms present many opportunities for the depressed person to enter into worship, because the Psalms introduce the concept of depression quite plainly.
Welch lays out the following format for spiritual attack: “You are spiritually vulnerable — your emotions are so powerful that they skew your interpretations –Satan attacks — you swear allegiance to your most pessimistic interpretation no matter what others say” (65). Satan primarily attacks such a person by means of lies (64, et seq.).
Indeed, we must assume the presence of the lie, therefore, we be assured of the truth in Christ:
With depression, assume the lie is present. Consider a permanent attachment. As long as you struggle with depression, you will have to be particularly alert to it. Your goal isn’t to overcome it; your goal is to engager it with a growing knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Know Christ. Satan’s energies zero in on this point: the truth about Jesus. If you are growing in an accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ, you are winning the battle. If you are not, you are losing ground daily. 69
Only when one has been assured and of the truth Christ and his work (69) will we rightly The primary work of Christ being the undoing of the curse, in particular the forgiveness of sin (which separates me from God) must be at the core of restoration to the broken soul (a review of Psalm 130) .
The book concludes with helpful chapters on medical treatment, the effects upon family and friends, care and expectations.