by all means, let Him work miracles.

***Please know that I acknowledge the validity of multiple aspects of this topic, including the real danger of over-diagnosis and also the miracle of healing without the use of prescription medication. But, I feel that I need to give this perspective voice because someone may need to hear it. I want you to hear this. You, you right there who needs to hear this, it is for you.

I needed to hear it 4 months ago.

I spent many more months of my life in the darkness of depression than my Good Lord wanted me to because I refused to let Him work.

Although never spoken directly, those whispers of “It is unchristian to use anti-depressants,” present in the Evangelical Christian subculture had settled into my amygdala and put down roots. {To be clear: I have only heard this message whispered and alluded to by the people in the church, not the doctrine or theology of the church itself.} They defined my view of depression treatment to the extent that someone very dear to me struggled through a very dark depression that changed who she was as a person, and throughout her treatment of it I quietly held the belief that by taking prescription drugs she was taking the easy way out.

As Christian and a woman, a mom, and a survivor of postpartum depression, I now have a humblingly different perspective that was painfully acquired:

There is no easy way out.

Just because I put 50mg of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor into my body each night does not mean that I got up, dusted off my knees and walked away from postpartum depression the moment I had a written prescription in-hand. It is naive to think that something as large, brooding, and evil as a mental health issue could be solved that easily.

I do not believe that the medicine saved me, but I do believe it was through the use of medicine (as well as support, prayer, counseling, an exercise regimen, doctoral supervision, relaxation, accountability, and a compassionate community) that I was saved.

Often when (if indirectly) criticizing or minimizing the validity of the use of anti-depressants for the treatment of depression, statements such as “Find your healing in Christ”, “Medicine only masks the problem,” or “Only Christ can restore your joy.” are made. Depending on their context, these statements are potentially harmful (and well, the 2nd one is always harmful because it’s not true). Spoken to a friend who needs help seeing through the darkness of depression and then followed up by a sincere offer to help her find the resources she needs, they are good; Christ is the healer, He is the source of all true joy. However, it breaks my heart to have read these statements verbatim on a Christian mother’s blog series on depression no less than a few months ago. When left out there in the cyber universe as blanket statements, they feel like condemnation to the depression sufferer who is feeling helpless. They leave him or her without an actual, tangible step to take toward healing.

They make a 23 year old new mother in Minnesota sit for months on end in a very dark place because she knows she needs to find her joy in Christ but she doesn’t know how and trying harder isn’t working.

Pray. Seek Christ. Appeal to the Lord to heal you. These are all important steps to take toward the healing, but what if when someone prays and seeks healing from God, He leads them to their doctor’s office? I knew in my heart and must have said to DanO several times that I needed to “see someone about this” but that stigma, that judgement I had heard passed and subsequently passed myself, it stopped me in my tracks. It hindered God’s ability to heal me. ‘He couldn’t be leading me to a doctor, that’s unchristian.’

From where I stand, with a bright, beautiful but distant view of what God holds in store for me and with a clear, painful window on what He has brought me through, my perspective is this: “Why can’t God work miracles through the use of medicine to heal me?” We claim He uses miracles, yes? We claim He heals, yes? Then let’s not be so zealous as to think we understand His ways and that His ways could not possibly include medical assistance. I know my Lord used means to reach people that were completely and utterly disgusting to the religious right of His day.

Cleaning out the temple courts with righteous anger.

“Zacchaeus, I’m coming over to your house for dinner.”

Asking a woman in Samaria for water from the well.

Dying a criminal’s death.

These things were contemptible to the self-proclaimed religious authorities of Christ’s day, but He was using them for good, for healing. Because I know how wrong the Pharisees were on these matters, I cannot pretend I understand what is and is not being used by God to restore and heal individual people of various ailments and afflictions. I know that my God will go to any length to bring His children back to himself, even if that length is medicinal.

Yes. 1,000 times yes, Christ is the healer, but let’s not tie a hand behind His back by deciding by which means our Savior can move.

75 Responses to “by all means, let Him work miracles.”

  1. Muser

    I LOVE this post! Brought tears to my eyes. Absolutely God finds so many ways to heal us, and why wouldn’t we think that the human brilliance and compassion behind medication is a miracle from the God who created those human minds and hearts?

  2. Lisa

    I could not agree more with you on this. I often wonder why it is totally acceptable to be on medication for high blood pressure, arthritis, migraines, etc. but not depression. It seems to me that there is a double standard in the church when it comes to mental illness because it can be a vague and ill-defined problem. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Julie

    What I always struggled to understand is the fact that there was some invisible line. Yes, medicine for bipoloar disorder is okay, depression no. What separates one mental illness from another? Because that’s what it is. It’s a chemical imbalance. Why, just because it’s in our brain, are we suddenly expected to “think” ourselves well. Cancer patients can’t do that. Yet once I came out about my struggle with depression in a very public way (giving my testimony in church) I received nothing but love and support (and quite a few “me too”s). So I think the anti-medicine people are the minority – at least I hope, I just think they’re much more vocal about it.

    I endured over 9 months of true darkness before I recognized it for what it was (thanks to a friend) and sought help. Unfortunately I have a genetic predisposition to depression and since that initial time (2003) I have had several different times when I needed to go back on my medication. Did you know there was such a thing as post-adoption depression?

    Still, every time I struggle with this “do I need meds or should I tough it out” mentality and I’m not sure why.

    • Bridgette

      Julie, the enemy wants to keep you down and out rather than sharing your life and your faith with the world. If he can make you doubt the acceptability of medication to play some yo-yo game with your life where you are never stable, he doesnt’ even have to do any work to keep you out of the game; you’ll do it all yourself. Simply stop having an argument. If you have a chemical imbalance, as you sound as if you do, stay on medication and do not allow yourself to go off. This is what I’ve done. I do not allow the “medication game” as I call it. Also know that this is a common problem for anybody on medication for depression because as soon as we feel better, we start thinking we don’t need medication any longer, and thus starts the roller coaster again. Give yourself grace to be all that God created you to be. Relying on medication and on God does not in any way undermind God’s role in our lives. One of the most powerful testimony’s I’ve heard on this is Sheila Walsh formerly of the 700 club. Her climb back from the pit of depression was powerful…and medicated!

      I wish you every success in this and heaps of blessings in all you do!

  4. Kelly @ Love Well

    I read this on Friday, Allison, and nodded my head through the entire reading. I couldn’t agree more with the underlying statement that God can heal with or without medication. He gave us these amazing doctors and researchers for a reason. It doesn’t mean drugs are always the answer. But why would we limit God and say He can’t work through people? (Which is a hard argument to win when you consider the whole purpose of the Church is to be God’s hands and feet on earth. But I digress.)

    Anyway. So that afternoon, I took my kids to an indoor playground and I got a text from my oldest and dearest friend. She isn’t dealing with PPD, but she’s had a really tough couple of years, and I think she’s suffering from anxiety or PTSD or something similar. She asked me to pray and said she’s on the verge of losing it (again). I asked if she had ever considered that maybe she’s dealing with something more than normal stress. And she replied, “I just hate to think I am not trusting Him for all.”

    I. Almost. Fell. Over.

    We had a good chat via text about how BOTH could be true — you can deal with a chemical imbalance in the brain EVEN AS you trust God. I pray she talks to her doctor this week.

    Either way. Timely. God prepared my heart for her through your post. I love that about Him.

  5. Jen

    Yes, yes, yes. Everything in this is so true and so needing to be said. I’d been wondering how you were doing with the PPD but didn’t want to come out and ask. I’m very happy to read this.

  6. Scarlett

    All I want to say is, yes! Yes! Yes! Youre so right. I want to get behind this so much. You speak with so much authority, so much spirit, I feel as though youve definitely hit the nail on the head. Good job with this. Please keep brining us more because we need more of your type of blogger.

  7. Bridgette

    Preach it girl! If somebody wants to tell me that we aren’t supposed to take medication for mental illnesses then I’m going to argue we shouldn’t even take asprin because then we aren’t trusting that God will heal us from that headache either. It’s the most preposterous argument and one the enemy had bombarded us with for years.

    I do understand some of the problems the church has with aspects of psychology; there is a lot of junk being taught out there, but that’s true of everything. I had a Christian psychologist who truly helped me and I listen to what he says and find that it is always lining up with the Bible and specific things Christ teaches in how we are to treat others and ourselves. We need to be wise is all.

  8. Andie

    This was a great read. Thank you for writing. I did not turn to God but did turn to meds when I was diagnosed with PPD. I really feel that I could not have found my way out of the dark cloud without the meds. I tried a better attitude, reading about it and exercise but needed the help. I am sure the people who feel this way also believe I shouldn’t have children since I needed medical help to get them!

  9. Living the Balanced Life

    You can’t see it, but I am applauding you! It is so important that we stand up and fight the stigma that comes with depression, especially in Christian circles. My babies are all almost grown, but I have dealt with depression all my life. I remember wanting to give my 2 month old up for adoption, I couldn’t handle it anymore.
    I recently dealt with a mental meltdown, involving stress, overload, depression and anxiety. It got so bad because I would not speak out. I would not take off my superwoman cape and ask for help. So on my blog I tell my story in hopes that I can A. help someone who is already at a critical place be restored and healed and B. help someone who NEEDS to ask for help before it is too late to do so.
    The more we talk about mental illness and the treatment for it, the better off all woman (and men!) will be. And like you said above, the healing doesn’t just come with popping a prescribed anti-depressant, it comes through much prayer, counseling, self-care, as well as medication.
    Blessings to you as you prepare for number 2! You’ll do fine!


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