The Tears of a Clown (by JP Williams)

JP Williams is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Archie, MO. He blogs at Believing Out Loud. In the wake of Robin Williams’ death, this is a “letter” JP wrote to his best friend who committed suicide 20 years ago.

Dear Alex,

It has been about twenty years since we cut class.

Man, was that ever a fun time. Running free. Hearts racing, hoping we didn’t get caught. Sure the Highway patrol was on the lookout for two truants.

Guitar shopping. Blasting punk rock on that old Emerson boom box. Checking out the Concert Express catalog. Taco (sort-of) Bueno.

We must have been a sight. Sitting there in Southwest Oklahoma circa 1996. You with the orange mohawk.

Me with the gothy, punky, headbangery, grungy, someone accept me cause I am socially schizophrenic look.

Then you looked at me and asked that question, “Do you think that God would forgive you if you killed yourself?”

I had no idea what to say. After all, we were just kids. And spiritually, I was a nursing baby.

“I don’t think that is ever God’s plan for someone’s life.”

“Okay.” I think you said, then, we went back to our terrible Mexican fast food, and our fantasy wardrobe of indie punk t-shirts that we knew our parents would never let us wear out of the house even if we had the money to get them.

I wish I had known.

I wish I had known that you had tried before to end your life.

I wish I had known who to turn to for help.

I wish I had known that you were not asking a random, reflective question like adolescents often do.

Why didn’t you just tell me?

You didn’t feel like you fit in anywhere.

You didn’t feel like you could break free from whatever prison you were in.

You didn’t even tell your best friend.

Friday was awesome. Then Monday came.

I saw you trudging back to the car. We were busted. Well, you were busted. I had cover.

Thankfully I can’t remember whose idea it was to cut class, because if it was mine, I am not sure if I would ever forgive myself.

I just knew I would see you again. You were headed home to face the music, I was headed to class. When you are 17, you live forever. Unless you take your life.

Tuesday, “Has anyone seen Alex?” Wednesday, “Man, I wonder where he went?” Thursday, “If we don’t hear from him soon, I bet he’s dead or something…” What a terribly accurate assessment.

I got home from work, and there was the call on my answering machine. “JP, this is [Alex’s mom], we have some news about Alex.”

You know it is bad news when they don’t leave any more details.

I prayed, and I asked for God to help me take the blow.

“They found him. He’s gone.” She wept. I kept my composure, hung up the phone, and fell apart.

Your funeral was very difficult. We walked from the school to the church. It was a longer walk than normal. I got to hang out with that cute girl with the lazy eye, and she looked great in her funeral dress. At least I was mature enough to have my mind in the right place.

I decided on the way back that I would quit smoking, you always hated that I smoked. That was my memorial tribute to you, even though it took me until New Year’s Eve ’98 to finally put them down.

You may have thought you solved your problems, but you didn’t. You ran from them. Suicide is selfish, and unforgiving. It is permanent solution to temporary problems. I have to confess that I am still pretty angry at you, but who am I kidding, I can’t be mad at you…  but it hurt others, and it still hurts.

Somewhere I have some of your artwork. Your dog collar. Your bass guitar is on permanent loan to a kid you never knew. Sometimes I find stuff in my garage or whatever, and usually it stops me. I shed a tear. I move on.

The thing that hurts the most is that you never talked to me. You never told me.

What if you had? Maybe we could be laughing about the time we cut class and you got busted. You would have loved the new Supertones record, and Squad 5-0 broke big right after you…

We could have talked to our youth pastor, or the school counselor, the art teacher, anyone.

But no. You didn’t talk to us. You ran.

About a year later, your mom got to where she couldn’t bear the pain. Your dad took her to an inpatient mental facility. On the way home, he pulled over to the side of the road to take a nap and was killed by an 18 wheeler.

Did you know that you would do that to her? To him?

How could you have ever known how much you would hurt others? If you’d known, you never would have.

It doesn’t end the pain. At least not for us.

God has helped me work through most of this. But man, if I could see you again, I would just grab you, and hold you, and tell you that whatever it was that we could have worked it out. We could have fought it together. We could have won, I know it.

So maybe someone will read this. And they will think, “Man… I don’t want to do that to someone. I don’t want my best friend to be aching inside twenty years later.” That’s why I am writing to you. So that you, and maybe others can see.

It’s just terrible when you aren’t taken, but when you take your own life.

I hope that my understanding of God’s grace is right. And that one day, we will meet again.

If they allow mohawks in Heaven, I will know how to find you.

Love forever.

JP.

_______________________________________

This is pretty raw, I posted it before I could talk myself out of it. When I was in High School, my best friend took his life. That was 20 years ago, and it still hurts today. Maybe this can help someone. Writing it helped me.

Alex is obviously not my friend’s name, but might be. You’re always supposed to change names when you write these sort of things.

He was a clown for a living, and an aspiring artist and musician. Quite a ladies’ man. The death of Robin Williams triggered a flood in me and this is what came of it. It is odd how so many people who make a living making us laugh seem to die of sadness.

There are some hopeful and awesome things that come out of this story, but that is not the focus today.

Please, if you read this and are contemplating suicide, or self-harm of any kind; reach out to a teacher, a pastor, a friend, even a stranger. Anyone. Most problems in life are temporary. Suicide is permanent. There is so much more to life than what you are going through, so don’t take it.

Comments

  1. William Thornton says

    While I appreciate the heartfelt piece, do we always need to blame the victim (didn’t talk, put mother in mental institution, indirectly killed father, selfish, ran from problems)? The one thing you did not say that might have a much better chance of helping someone contemplating suicide is to get to a doctor, call a hotline, or see someone who can get professional help.

    You have a church and congregation. Is it helpful to them or just to you for you to pile all that heavy blame on your dead friend? Do you think you will motivate some away from suicide if you plant rational thoughts in their mixed up brain about how harsh a sin that it is? That they will heap untold misery on their family and friends? Is this the way we redeem the lives of suicide victims, castigate them with a tear in our eye in hope that their sins will motivate someone living to take the right steps? Isn’t the point about suicide that it is not rational but rather the ultimate in distorted thinking?

    I confess to saying in years past almost exactly what you have said, thought not about a personal friend. The idea of mental illness, a phrase that did not appear in your piece, was foreign to me. What an idiot I was back then.

    Rick Warren and Frank Page both have books on the subject. They would be worth reading.

  2. Dave Miller says

    This was moving and powerful.

    Contra my friend, William, I think that a friend or family member’s suicide always leaves you rehashing feelings such as were expressed here.

    Thanks for letting us publish.

      • says

        Why do we always have to blame the guy who was left behind when his best friend offed himself, and he had no warning, and now he’s hurt and angry and expresses himself and it sure as heck doesn’t hurt the guy who died? Why is that?

        • William Thornton says

          Good question. One could view the article, JP’s letter to his friend of long ago who like Robin Williams committed suicide, as having two contextual settings. One is therapeutic for the writer who lost a friend. Most of us would see the anger, blame and the like as normal, expected, and helpful for the writer. I took the context to be a post-suicide missive by a pastor, especially in light of JP’s addendum after his first person letter.

          In the former context sympathy and understanding are in order. In the latter context perhaps the most important thing a pastor can say was completely missing – someone who is seriously depressed should be directed to medical help and intervention.

          In a way I regret that this topic has lurched to the usual Bible vs medicine mode. Such seems irreverent in the light of the pain expressed by the writer who lost a friend.

        • Dave Miller says

          Clark, in general, you might find better results if you stayed away from words like “offed himself.” Crass and hurtful to anyone who has lost a loved one.

          • says

            Dave I appreciate your sensitivity here, and William’s reply as well. I don’t really see a big difference but no need for unnecessary hurt. But that is the kind of language people often use when angry with the departed. Been there myself.
            And William does make a good point and I concede, that there are at least a couple of contexts going on here. You. Dave. picked up on the same one I did in your reply after William’s first post.
            And I too think the whole “Bible vs. Medicine” is going awry of the original post.
            But let me just say, No, the verb I used isn’t hurtful to “anyone who has lost a loved one.” Crass to you maybe. My apologies, I was trying to make a point.
            And a final word to William, no the most important thing a pastor can say was not missing. He urged them to tell someone. Telling a friend or pastor is a whole lot more likely for a person that depressed and not thinking clearly, than making an appointment with a medical professional. The friend or pastor needs to step up and get the person professional help.
            Thanks for letting me weigh in again.

  3. Jess says

    I’ve had to take several suicide courses in school. One thing to always remember to do is to observe changes in people, sadness, depression, losing someone close, or even saying, “I would like to kill myself”. These are things family members, friends, and someone in the ministry have to take seriously. I cannot over emphasize the importance of what I have just mentioned.

    Never blame the victim, because suicide is a product of not knowing of another alternative to solving a problem. Mental health issues are so common in our society. Do yourself and those around you a favor and study up on mental health issues. A good course in school would be wonderful.

    Someone contemplating suicide needs someone to recognize the signs,
    be that person so you can give them help and point them in the right direction. Don’t try to be the doctor, get them to a doctor. Don’t try to be religious, thinking Jesus will take care of everything, get them to a doctor. Remember, we are talking about mental health issues. It doesn’t matter how long one has been saved, or how much Bible they know, these are mental health issues, get them to a doctor.

    • Tarheel says

      Wow, what a touchy subject I remember coming up at the convention in Texas year before last. 

      Sure, medical or psychiatric treatment for mental illness certainly is a common grace and I think it is something that God has given us.   I would say it’s foolish to ignore those things as like I said it is a common grace. 

      However, Scripture is profitable for all things…. We need to make sure we don’t lose sight of that. 

      We also must not lose sight of the fact, that all of her elements are a result of the fall…. That sin has infected all of creation, and true solutions or always biblical solutions. 

      While psychiatry and medication and doctors care can be appropriate and beneficial it must never be offered as a substitute for the word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit. 

      • William Thornton says

        I’ve never known of Christians advising those who are suffering serious mental illness to eschew prayer and scripture but I’ve known plenty who advise prayer and Scripture but not medical help.

        Jess can answer for himself but I took his point to be that mental illness has a physiology that needs medical intervention. One might pray away heart disease but should visit the cardiologist as soon as possible. You can pray on the way.

        • Tarheel says

          Yea. Lol. I’m with ya there.

          Sadly I’ve known of pastors and Christians who convey both messages to the mentally/physically ill.

          1. the prayer of faith is all ya need for healing, no or little doctors care needed. (for its symbolic of a lack of faith)
          2. Medicine and secular psychiatry is all ya need…these issues are at all a spiritual issue it’s only physical so no real answers can be found in scripture and prayer.

          Both approaches are wrong, I think.

  4. William Thornton says

    It might be helpful for someone to write how pastors might best address the issue of suicide from. The pulpit.

  5. Jess says

    I would like to add a bit more to what I mentioned above. Never, allow your theology to interfere with getting treatment for the mentally ill. Sure pray all you would like, fast as often as you want, exercise all the faith you can come up with, satisfy yourself all you would like, the object is not to satisfy you, but to get help for the mentally ill.

    Some of you assume the mentally ill will hear and understand everything you say. If that were the case they wouldn’t be mentally ill. They may hear but will not take it to heart. We must come off our high horses and do what is best for the one suffering. Remember there are folks in the church who become suicidal, and they hear about Jesus all the time. I know I sound harsh and blunt, but I’m telling you the truth here. We need to stop being so religious and get the suffering to the doctor as soon as possible. It is a matter of life and death. Ask me, if I were bleeding what would I want, a preacher praying over me or an ambulance come and take me to the doctor. I’m sorry but I would take the doctor every time. The mentally ill often times don’t know the right choices to make. This is why we must act and get them to the doctor.

    In closing, keep the Romans Road to yourself, use it when the one suffering mental illness gets better. Wow! did I just say that? I certainly did, and meant every word of it.

    • Jess says

      James 2:15-16, We are to minister to the needs of the suffering and not be Holier than thou.

    • Adam Blosser says

      I think that post is helpful in this discussion, Tarheel. Ignoring the physical factors contributing to a person’s depression is wrong. Ignoring the spiritual factors is also wrong. It seems that ignoring one or the other is the approach most often taken. This is why we need capable Christian biblical counselors working with capable Christian medical doctors to work together in caring for the whole person. We are not just spirits. Neither are we just bodies. We are embodied spirits. We must care for the whole person.

      • Jess says

        Adam Blosser,

        If you ask any capable Christian Psychologist what their objective is with the patient, guess what they will say. The mind has to be healed first before the spiritual can take place. The mental issues are the priority.

        • Adam Blosser says

          You are setting up a false dichotomy. If you treat the physical and ignore the spiritual, you are doing just as much (or more) harm as if you had treated the spiritual and ignored the physical. We must care for whole persons.

          Who tells a cancer patient they need to get physically healed before they can come to the Lord seeking help with the spiritual issues they may be dealing with as a result of their cancer diagnosis?

          • Jess says

            Adam Blosser,

            If you notice, I’m not saying to ignore the Spiritual. I’m saying the mind has to come first before the spiritual can be received.

            We are talking mental illness not cancer.

          • Adam Blosser says

            But Jess, isn’t the argument that mental illness is a completely physical problem just like cancer? If so, my analogy is not off base at all.

            I don’t have a problem telling someone to take the pills they need and seek help from God and His Word. I have a huge problem with telling someone to take the pills they need and then once they get better physically they can come to God and His Word for spiritual growth. The latter is what you seem to be advocating.

      • Jess says

        Adam Blosser,

        If you ask any capable Christian Psychologist what their objective is with the patient, guess what they will say. The mind has to be healed first before the spiritual can take place. The mental issues are the priority.

      • Adam Blosser says

        I wouldn’t be so hardheaded if Jess would just see the light and recognize that I am right and he is wrong. ;)

        (The emoticon is just for you to brighten your morning.)

  6. Jess says

    Allow me to explain the situation this way, if the mind is beyond rational thinking, it has to receive help first. If the mind doesn’t receive help first this could lead up to suicide in the church. We must avoid this at all costs.

    This is what I mean by putting our Theology before the one suffering with some type of mental illness. Anxiety, depression, dementia, and a host of other mental issues require the mind to be repaired first either through medication or other sources.

  7. Jess says

    Adam,

    There is a vast difference between mental and physical problems. Unless the church wants a lawsuit on their hands, we had better not handle mental problems in house unless someone has a Doctorate in Psychology, and Psychariaty and also licensed by the state to practice these professions. Ignorance is not a defense that will win a case.

    I think all DOM’s should set up a training program anywhere from two to four hours long, maybe all day would be better just teach the basic warning signs of suicide. Then the questions would be answered.

    Dave Miller, you could help make this happen. No Pastor wants a suicide in their church. Neither do Deacons. I think it’s a matter of vital importance.

    • D.L. Payton says

      Jess
      Excellent word re. credentials. I shudder when I see men put counseling on their business card or such if they are not certified in that area. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen to be sure. However even worse this can prevent a person from getting qualified help when he needs it. For the past 20 years I have not even used the word counsel in regard to talking with people. When asked I tell them I am not counselor, but i would be happy to visit with you and pray with you etc.

      • Tarheel says

        Yea, DL…I personally go to great lengths to make sure they understand the difference between a pastoral counselor and other counselors. It is not on our cards, nor is it all that highly “advertised” that we do pastoral counseling…but it has to be understood that we are offering pastoral and biblical counsel not mental health counseling.

        I tend to think that if we are talking about believers here that the best possible counseling one could receive is a bible believing pastor who knows and loves them offering sound biblical and pastoral counsel in and spiritual guidance and a bible believing mental health counselor offering what they offer in the way of mental health counseling and perhaps medication. (although, I am not sure all that many of the second component exist…at least not in my area…we have a couple but not many)

        • D.L. Payton says

          Tarheel

          Re. your last sentence, you are correct These folks are in short supply. i have not in my area.

  8. says

    I don’t understand depression but I know I despise it. I honestly don’t think anyone regardless of their education can understand what depression does until it is experienced. One may look through sympathetic eyes and recognize it in someone’s life but I am afraid they can’t understand it. Words will never make the sun shine in the mind of an individual when the gray, cold, wet fog rolls into their mind. Words will never make a person feel accepted, appreciated or loved when they feel they are all alone even with dozens, maybe even hundreds around them who love and care for them. I am afraid words will not penetrate the mind of a person who has suffered in their own personal hell until they are to the point where they want to take their life just to go to heaven or even try a different hell. I am scared no words can relieve the guilt felt when a person suffering from depression looks into the eyes of their family when the look on their faces asks the questions their voices never will, “why aren’t we enough and why can’t you be happy?”

    Words, theology, and even being a true friend may not help a person who is suffering from depression, but if you love them you dang sure better pray for them. Pray without ceasing.

    • Jess says

      Dean Stewart,

      My friend, you do understand depression. I have battled depression and you are spot on. No words can help, I would even quote scripture to myself, it was as if it was a foreign language I didn’t understand.

      There are folks here on Voices that are so determined to share scripture with victims of depression thinking that scripture will somehow help solve the problem. Scripture will not solve the problem, and many times will make the problem worse, because it puts more stress on the victim. The victim will think why am I not as close to God as I used to be? What is wrong with me? Where have I failed? Why am I not as happy as other Christians? What am I doing wrong?

      I will repeat one more time that our Theology isn’t as important as the victim of depression. Depression is mental illness and it requires outside help, medication, etc. The mind must be healed before we can rightly divide the word of God.

      I don’t know why this is so hard for folks to grasp. Yes I do, it’s because they haven’t experienced depression. Once someone has experienced depression, they will see it as it is, an illness that will suck the life out of an individual and turn their world upside down.

    • Jess says

      Dean Stewart,

      My friend, you do understand depression. I have battled depression and you are spot on. No words can help, I would even quote scripture to myself, it was as if it was a foreign language I didn’t understand.

      There are folks here on Voices that are so determined to share scripture with victims of depression thinking that scripture will somehow help solve the problem. Scripture will not solve the problem, and many times will make the problem worse, because it puts more stress on the victim. The victim will think why am I not as close to God as I used to be? What is wrong with me? Where have I failed? Why am I not as happy as other Christians? What am I doing wrong?

      I will repeat one more time that our Theology isn’t as important as the victim of depression. Depression is mental illness and it requires outside help, medication, etc. The mind must be healed before we can rightly divide the word of God.

      I don’t know why this is so hard for folks to grasp. Yes I do, it’s because they haven’t experienced depression. Once someone has experienced depression, they will see it as it is, an illness that will suck the life out of an individual and turn their world upside down.

      • Tarheel says

        “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of Godb may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
        2 Timothy 3:16-17

        “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.a 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

        “As I swore in my wrath,
        ‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

        although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5And again in this passage he said,

        “They shall not enter my rest.”

        6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

        “Today, if you hear his voice,
        do not harden your hearts.”

        8For if Joshua had given them rest, Godb would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
        Hebrews 4

        • Tarheel says

          John 14;

          “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.d From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

          8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

          12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask mee anything in my name, I will do it.

          Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

          15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,f to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will beg in you.

          18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

          25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”

          • Tarheel says

            Not to mention all the passages where we are told that we will in this life suffer various trials…but fear not because Christ has overcome the world.

            Depression is a terrible thing and a product of the fall, just like other illnesses and disease. God, by the means common grace has given the world medical advancement and treatment for all sorts of things including depression…and we would be wise to take advantage of these gifts…but for the believer He has granted so much more by special grace through the work of the Holy Spirit.

            Pastoral counseling must rely on the tools we have in our “soul ministry tool box”…the only tools we have really….the word of God and prayer ministered in love. Without this medical treatment will be incomplete…neither (psychiatric treatment and pastoral counsel) should be done to the exclusion of the other…to do so, as Adam B. said…fails to minister to the whole person. We are not body…we are body and soul….we cannot forsake “the inner man.” To place psychiatry or any other thing above the comfort that God gives is to “honor the creature, rather than the creator.”

            Ephesians 3;

            “14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

            20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

  9. Jess says

    Tarheel,

    Brother, you are so wrong. I cannot even attempt to count the ways you are wrong. The scripture you shared is correct but it has nothing to do with depression.

    This is why it’s needful to have training sessions all across the SBC to educate folks about depression. This is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. God can only work through someone whose mind is spiritually inclined, depression takes that away. One is still saved by God’s grace, they still love God, they still know his word, but depression creates a feeling that God is so far away, and that one is all alone even in a crowd of folks. Depression causes one to not to even want to pray. No preacher or church member can help. In most cases only a doctor can help. We are not talking about minor depression, I’m talking about clinical depression. I can see how God’s word can place undue pressure on someone suffering from it. Mental illness is a bad thing.

    This is all I’m saying about the subject, it’s as though it’s falling on deaf ears. I just pray that no more pastors have to face suicide in their church, especially when it can be prevented.

    • Adam Blosser says

      Thankfully, our SBC seminaries (at least SEBTS) ARE training students in how to minister to people dealing with depression. Students are being trained to minister to the whole person through biblical counseling and the use of Christian psychiatrists when necessary.

      So, there is training for dealing with depression in the SBC. I praise God that it isn’t the kind of training you are calling for. I can only shake my head when a Christian pastor suggests that Scripture is not helpful/useful when dealing with any issue in life.

        • Adam Blosser says

          Jess, you have been very clear that the Scriptures have nothing to say to those struggling with depression. If that is not your position, I have not understood you well or you have not communicated well. I just took a peak at the appendix giving counsel to pastors in Frank Page’s book “Melissa”. It provides what I perceive to be a biblical approach to ministering to people struggling with depression. I intend to read the entire book sometime soon.

          I will bow out of this conversation now. Thanks for interacting.

          • Jess says

            Adam,

            What ever you and Frank Page agree on, have at it. I’m looking out for mentally ill, and always will. Thanks for interacting.

          • Dave Miller says

            C’mon, Jess.

            Do you really need to claim that you are the only one who cares about the mentally ill or that those with a different perspective than yours do not care.

            I’m pretty sure Adam cares about the topic. His solution might be slightly different than yours, but your insinuation that he doesn’t care or want to help the mentally ill is a little unfair, don’t you think?

  10. says

    If one tries to counsel depression there are a couple of things I would encourage you to remember. One is there certainly is a depression that comes with rebellion in the life of a believer. In the 51st Psalm you read of a man void of joy, gladness and laughter as a result of sin. It is my opinion that such depression over sinfulness is more prevalent in the life of a spiritual leader, like David. Counseling such an individual will involve leading them to repentance and takes true discernment to recognize. To lay the cause of depression on one’s sin when that is not the case is a grievous mistake.

    Secondly, there is a depression that occurs as the result of Adam’s sin. It is an illness that is part of the fallen world. Such depression can come on some who are absolutely in line with the will of God for their lives. Their devotional lives and service may be better than most. Some will not understand but when dealing with such depression often times the words of the counselor are just like the noise that the characters make in the Peanuts comic strip – wawawa wawa wawa. Its not that the depressed don’t want to hear you are feel better; they simply can’t. Good luck trying to help such a person. I pray one day the stigma that is attached to the things that can help these poor souls will be removed and more people will get the help they need.

    With no malice toward anyone, I just smile as I think of some of our bold today taking their wisdom and knowledge and counseling the Prince of Preachers, Spurgeon, “Charles, if you had an understanding of faith and the Bible you would overcome this depression and get out of that bed.” After the deaths at the Surrey Hall it appears Spurgeon was never able to go very long without being thrown into the despair of depression.