Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet
The Rev. Barbara C. Crafton
Published by Jossey-Bass 2009
The Rev. Barbara C. Crafton has written an important book for EMIN News readers and all who have or love someone with debilitating depression.
The following synopsis comes from the dust jacket:
“Depression is the sapping of spiritual strength and joy, the graying of everything.” —From the Prologue
Drawing from her personal experiences and those of hundreds of others, Episcopal priest Barbara Cawthorne Crafton explores what it means for a person of faith to suffer from depression. Just as no two people are the same, the experience of depression is unique to every individual.
Depression’s mark on each soul can perplex or even annoy loved ones, friends, and family, while at the same time they want very much to help.
All too often religious people face unique challenges when depression sets in. Jesus Wept explains that faith can be enormously helpful and comforting or can seriously hinder the healing process.
Communities of faith and ill-advised teachings can leave sufferers feeling abandoned. They wonder, “Where are the joys and comforts of faith and the power of prayer? How can I trust God? My depression is a sign that I have disappointed God!”
Offering hope to those who suffer, Crafton shows how a life of faith can bring together unique resources for dealing with the dark night of the soul. The ancient practice of prayer, which has taken sorrow seriously for thousands of years, can be a powerful elixir for the spirit, Supportive religious teachings can offer a powerful hope for resurrection and healing. Faith can build a community that, at its best, enshrines love and welcome to the poor in spirit.
Jesus Wept is a valuable resource for those who are finding their way through the darkness of soul and spirit—or for those who care for them.
Barbara C. Crafton is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director and author. She is the founder and head of the Geranium Farm, www.geraniumfarm.org, an online institute for the promotion of spiritual growth which publishes The Almost-Daily-eMo from the Geranium Farm, read by thousands of people worldwide.
In a chapter titled “A Learning Experience,” Crafton writes:
“The pain is a memory now, but that thought can still produce a shudder. I don’t ever want to feel like that again.
“Or perhaps that frightful era just past wasn’t a demon at all. Perhaps it was a teaching tool, a means by which I was strengthened in wisdom about the very nature of the human self. Was it purposed to teach me about my many blessings by allowing me to experience their privation, in case I ever started taking them all for granted? In truth, I have been educated by having survived depression, by the memory of its dreadful emptiness. I do feel glad just to breathe the air without feeling its dead weight on my chest. I do have a more nuanced view of God than a simple equation of God’s presence with my own well-being, not that I had ever put much stock in that equation anyway. And it certainly has taught me what a blessing ‘normal’ is. I don’t ever want to feel like that again.” (pp. 16–17)
Note: The Rev. Barbara Crafton has consented to be interviewed by EMIN News about this new book. The article will be published in the Winter 2009 issue.