If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed? is a very helpful book on the subject of depression because it’s written by someone who has personally experienced a deep depression … after having been a pastor for 35 years! It’s also helpful because it’s saturated with Scripture gathered over a lifetime of studying and preaching the Word of God. In addition, it’s helpful because it holds out genuine hope, and HOPE is what every depressed person needs. Having had a brush with depression myself in early 2001, I can honestly say that this book is right on! I wish I’d had it then.
Dr. Robert B. Somerville, along with his wife, Mary, have faithfully served for several decades in pastoral ministry. Bob is now professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California, and a fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.
In the spirit of full disclosure, you should be aware that my wife Donna and I have known Bob and Mary since seminary days at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Interestingly, after graduation Bob became the pastor of Donna’s home church, Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Teaneck, New Jersey, and assisted in our wedding in September 1971. However, even if I’d never met the author of this book, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed? is based on solid biblical theology and is written out of real-life experiences.
The titles of the chapters reveal the contents of the book:
- The Story of My Depression
- Where’s the Hope?
- Lessons from the Life of Elijah
- If I’m a Christian, Why am I Depressed?
- How Do I Handle Guilt?
- What’s Going on with My Body and Mind?
- How Do I Deal with My Fear, Worry, and Anxiety?
- How Do I Express My Grief to God?
- Is Joy Out of Question?
- How does the Caregiver Cope? Comfort for the Caregiver (This last chapter, written by Mary Somerville, is worth the price of the book, but by all means read all ten chapters!)
There are several additional features that I appreciate about If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?:
- Every chapter begins with a deeply biblical prayer from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, a marvelous book that we should read over and over again. (No, we should PRAY over and over again.)
- After each chapter there’s a short “Response” giving practical assignments related to the lessons taught in the chapter. These could be valuable to someone facing depression, as well as to the caregiver or counselor of a depression person.
- At the very end of all the chapters, except the last, there’s a true story by a Christian who has actually experienced depression and found healing. These stories are helpful because they are honest and because they reveal some of the causes, as well the cures for depression.
- In addition, the author has included several very valuable appendices. The first one, entitled “The Gospel Assignment,” contains seven Gospel truths packed with Scripture verses and “A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Commitment.”
- Another very helpful feature of the book is how a depressed individual can use the Psalms of lament in his or her prayer time. This is a unique contribution of the author that I’ve never read elsewhere.
In conclusion, a word of counsel to the reader of this review from the pen of the author’s wife, Mary Somerville:
“I have since found out that many have experienced depression but are afraid to share what’s happened to them even with those with whom they are closest. If that is you, take courage and be willing to share with those whom you trust in the Body of Christ. You may be surprised by how your sister or brother in Christ will seek to understand and feel blessed and honored by your openness. We need to learn from each other and we can do that through books or face-to-face relationships.”
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