Books to help believers deal with depression are not new for religion publishers. But after a year when millions coped with isolation, mourning, and financial challenges, such titles have grown in number. Why is obvious. “The number of people with depression tripled between 2019 and 2020, according to the medical journal JAMA, and a University of Chicago study found Americans are more unhappy than they’ve been 50 years,” says Jan Long Harris, executive publisher of Tyndale non-fiction. “People of faith are suffering tremendously, like everyone else. But faith also has an important role to play in well-being. Jesus came to bring well-being to the world – spiritual, emotional well-being."
Tyndale Momentum is bringing out Hope Always: How You and Your Church Can Be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide by Matthew Sleeth (May 4). “Sleeth is a medical doctor who wants churches in particular and communities of faith to wake up to the epidemic of depression and resulting suicides. They don’t take it seriously enough. They don’t have the training to recognize the signs and refer people for help. He talks about how to open the conversation. Right now, about the only time pastors talk about suicide is after someone has taken his or her own life,” says Harris.
Not all believers are churchgoers or part of a Christian community where someone might reach out to help someone dealing with depression. However, almost everyone has a Bible. That’s the source for a new title from Chris Hodges, a bestselling author (What’s Next?: The Journey to Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose, and Make a Difference) and a megachurch pastor. He points to the story of the prophet Elijah as a path to find light in dark days. In Out of the Cave: Stepping Into the Light When Depression Darkens What You See (Thomas Nelson, May 25) Hodges shows readers lessons from Elijah's journey and how their own temperament and view of God affect the way they handle depression.
Biblical and personal
“It’s important for Christians to see that struggling with and overcoming depression has a biblical basis. Hodges brings this forward,” says Nelson Books v-p publisher Tim Paulson. In addition to Hodges, Nelson is publishing singer Michelle Williams' Checking in: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life—-And Can Save Yours (May 25,) She details how treatment for depression helped her find new hope and trust for God’s plan for her. “Hodges and Williams will reach distinct audiences – she’s an entertainer, he’s a pastor – but they both address the topic in a fairly vulnerable way,” Paulson says.
Two other titles releasing this spring also offer very personal painfully-earned wisdom for finding mental and spiritual health. Ministry leader Sarah Robinson says nearly all her life she has had suicidal thoughts and crippling depression that were not eased by the popular notion that prayer and Bible study would suffice. She titled her upcoming book I Love Jesus, But I Want to Die: Moving from Surviving to Thriving When You Can’t Go On (WaterBrook, June 15) to highlight tools and practices she learned to escape shame, fear, and suffering and “find a rich vibrant life in Christ," according to the publisher.
In his book, Beauty in the Browns: Walking with Christ in the Darkness of Depression (Focus on the Family, out now) author Paul Asay shares how he and his son came to terms with being Christians living with depression. “Even in the bleak browns of depression, even when the world looks hopeless, God still has a plan for people dealing with this issue,” he writes.