I am sad to report that Adams’ appraisal of depression described below is at best lacking; at worst potentially harmful to the hearts and minds of his readers.
Lets think about this from a different angle. . . what if our straw man (or woman) is unmarried and feels she is doomed to a life of singleness, perhaps concluding that God does not have her best at heart or cannot be trusted? What if our straw man has suffered a disability and is not able to work, and has concluded that he is a failure at providing for his family? What if our straw man has been infertile for years and has been finally blessed with a pregnancy, only to end in a miscarriage, concluding that she has done something to make God displeased with her and withhold blessing? All of these conclusions can lead to hopelessness. I assert that these beliefs are often the root of depression . . . and then are often accompanied by neglect of responsibility, which compounds the problem.
Does the Bible speak to these misbeliefs? Absolutely it does! Depression is ultimately hopelessness, and I would cautiously assert that hopelessness always involves believing a lie.
And here’s the kicker: believing a lie does not usually in itself represent willful sin. Think of it in these simple terms . . . what loving parent would would be angry at their child who inaccurately concludes that they are not loved by the parent? Would a reasonable parent view this honest misbelief as deserving of punishment? No! The parent would be moved to reassure the child that they are loved and clear up the misunderstanding. Yet this exact misbelief, or one similar, is often what is behind the hopelessness of depression. “I have failed God and he has turned His back on me.” “God left me at my deepest point so he can’t possibly love me.” etc, etc, etc.
No one should assume willful sin is always the cause of depression.
Speaking of motives, I believe Adams’ motive is to help, not hurt. I am urged to write this blog out of concern for the people who read Adams’ article or one like it and believe, based on Adams’ assessment, that getting into depression and getting out of depression is entirely bound up in “doing”. He also doesn’t even mention the reality that since our bodies are fallen and broken by sin, it only makes sense that our brains sometimes aren’t working as they were created to.
I remember vividly a personal bout with depression. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can certainly say that this article completely misses what my core issue was. I was believing lies about myself and about God and didn’t even know it. And these misbeliefs became a lens through which I viewed almost everything. I looked at the evidence and drew a wrong conclusion about God. Only when these beliefs were identified and challenged did I begin to feel the sun again and notice the dark clouds beginning to lift.