We have to be careful when we blame a family member for being lazy. When we’re not familiar with psychiatric illnesses and symptoms, it’s understandable to feel that way. But if this apparent laziness doesn’t lift within a reasonable length of time, the problem could very well be depression—an illness that could become serious., requiring medication. The suffering person should be treated with compassion.

Yes, it’s hard not to get annoyed and impatient when you don’t know the reality of what your loved one is dealing with. But such illness is not always easy to overcome. Family and friends need to be patient. Try to be kind, showing that you accept their condition as sickness. They can’t help the way they are.

A person with a psychological condition like this would benefit from the same kind of support we might give to people with physical illness. Make them feel loved and cared for with tasty food, treats, even some flowers to brighten the darkness they’re living in. Put yourself in their shoes.

What do you think would brighten your day if you’re in a dark place like your friend?

Depression is so commonplace it’s been called the common cold of mental illnesses. It’s surprising to still see such a stigma attached to it. Doesn’t everyone get down now and then? Yet for some, that dark mood can be quite serious, even causing them to lose the will to live.

If you want to help a friend who’s feeling low, a good place to start is to be open to hearing about their feelings. Much can be done with vulnerable communication between you and the person who’s hurting. Try not to give advice. Receiving advice from someone who doesn’t know first-hand what we’re going through, makes us feel even worse.

Encourage your friend to read the Psalms. David, the writer of at least 73 Psalms often struggled with depression. He knew how to describe what he felt. For example, “I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all day long. … I groan because of the turmoil of my heart” (Psalm 38:6, 8).

It’s always a good idea to encourage friends who are struggling to browse through the Psalms. There’s no better place to draw close to God at such a time. They would be surprised at what they’d find. It’s very likely they will find things in the Psalms that they can relate to. They will realize that even David, “a man after God’s own heart” had feelings just like them.

Psalm 40:1-3 was a favourite one for me when I experienced depression. Note how God gradually brought David back from “the mud and mire” to a firm place.

Not only that, but God put a “new song” in his mouth with which to praise him. Picture how it must have been for him. Picture how it would be for us and for our friend after so many dark weeks and months.

And yet this is how it is for many as they overcome a period of depression. A fresh new morning after a never-ending night. We can’t help but sing a joyous new song of praise to God. And how we’d love to sing it everywhere we go! Through our suffering, God changes us. David’s transformation was amazing, as he shows here. Yet this is how God works.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3


(Marja is not a professional caregiver. Since 2006, she has given spiritual support as a peer to people living with all kinds of mental health issues. She writes from the point of view of someone who has been there and understands—someone who wants to share the faith she has found in God.)

This has been Part 4 of the series In the Name of Jesus. For Part 5, go to Over-reliance.