Two weeks ago, I recommended this book on depression from a solid Christian perspective: Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray. Since then, Steve and Robyn Bloem kindly sent me a copy of the book they wrote on this topic: Broken Minds: Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You’re ‘Losing It.’ I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect before I read this book (I’ve received some very odd books in the past!). However, having read it, I have to say it is outstanding. In fact, it is better than outstanding. It is one of those books you’ll read and not soon forget.
The book is partially an autobiography by Steve and Robyn on the ‘hell’ of depression that Steve faced while in the pastoral ministry back in the 1980′s (when views on depression were a bit different than they are now). I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but suffice it to say I was in tears during parts of this book, only to later rejoice in the grace God showed to the Bloems as they rested upon him through their struggles. If you are a pastor who has struggled with depression – either mild or severe – you must get this book soon. Though I don’t suffer from depression, the Bloem’s story was helpful and edifying to me in more ways than I can list here.
This book is also about how Christians should deal with depression in a wise, medically informed, and biblical manner. Since Steve has gone through the dark fog of depression, his wisdom in this area is invaluable. He talks about how nouthetic counseling can be damaging to those with endogenous (biological) depression. He also talks about the dangers of some secular approaches to depression. And he evaluates the integrationist approach and points out its strengths and weaknesses. Before reading Broken Minds, I only knew a little about the different medicines and methods for treating chronic depression. Though I still do not know it all, this book has reminded me to weep with those who weep and it has given me a respect for medical professionals who work with depressed people. Finally, I now better understand the courage, strength, faith, and grace it takes for Christians to struggle through the dark fog of depression.
The Bloems also talk about theology as it relates to depression. I loved how they interacted with the Puritans’ explanations of melancholy. There’s even an appendix that gives Thomas Manton and Thomas Goodwin’s meditations on Isaiah 50:10. The authors state how God uses afflictions for our good and they show the importance of the Christian church and fellowship for those who fight depression.
I’ll have to come back to this book later and give some specific quotes that I found helpful. For the time being, please trust me when I say that Broken Minds is a necessary resource for those of you struggling with depression or those of you who have loved ones struggling with this. Pastors, you should get this book to help you understand depression, help you address it in the pulpit when the text allows, and help you counsel those with depression. Actually, I recommend this book for all Christians who want to read a testimony of God’s grace that brings Christians through the valley of the shadow of death. The Bloems have been in the shadow, and they describe it well. But they also know the Shepherd who leads them, and the book ultimately is about him.
Thank you, Steve and Robyn, for putting your story, wisdom, and counseling in words for us. I have no doubt the Lord will use your story in this book to help other Christians in many ways. This book is a help for pilgrims making their way heavenward while slogging through the fog of depression. And Amen, we do have great hope in Christ, that one day in the New Creation our infirmities will be totally gone.