Voices of Faith: How can one keep faith during depression?

The Rev. R. L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.: According to the “Wordbook” dictionary, depression is “a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.” Everyone in this world has at one time or another experienced this human feeling. Some are temporary and some are long-lasting.

Those who have faith can experience and overcome the places depression takes us. If we believe and trust God and continue to maintain a strong relationship with Him, those issues and concerns will dissipate.

The Bible is full of illustrations that provide us a vehicle for trusting God. Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Deborah, Esther and countless others have given us the opportunity to experience their moments of depression and how they overcame them.

We keep our faith by continuing to trust God. So if this life brings moments, or times in our lives, when we question ourselves about what to do when we don’t know, then we turn to sources that will give us support.

We are constantly reminded that we need to give thanks to God in our struggles as well as in our good times. Read your Bible and pray without ceasing: It is the strongest way to maintain your faith and trust in God.

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery, Kansas City, Mo.: During times of severe depression, some people experience what has been described as the “dark night of the soul.” This term, first coined by St. John of the Cross in the 16th century, is when one experiences a crisis of faith.

There is probably not a person who has ever lived who has not had doubts about their faith at one time or another. It was revealed that Mother Teresa had such doubts for most of her life.

For most people, such doubts are usually temporary in nature, but for others they may last for extended periods of time. Doubts are just an inevitable part of life. Well-known Western Buddhist nun Pema Chodron said, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”

So, we must accept the reality that there is nothing solid, permanent, or anything for us to hold on to. The rug just keeps being pulled out from under us.

That is the nature of life. But despite our doubts we can choose to let life’s disappointments harden us and make us bitter, or we can use them to wake us up and to respond to every situation with compassion.