I am in the process of emerging from a nearly three year struggle with what I now understand has been depression. I didn't recognize my trouble as depression when I was in the midst of it. All I knew was that I was suffused by grief, a sense of helplessness, and a feeling that nothing would be right again. Nearly 16 years of accompanying my my mother through her Alzheimer's journey certainly played a part in my sorrows, but other things happened as well (they always do).
Someone who is depressed will probably alienate loved ones because of the human tendency to blame others: "If only he/she would (or wouldn't) have done thus or so, then I wouldn't be in this situation." When living with someone who has this attitude, we have to rest upon the commitment we have made to one another in the Lord in order to continue in prayer and compassion for them. I have done my share of casting blame and am grateful for the Lord's steadfast love, as well as for my friends and loved ones who stuck with me even when I was not supportive of them.
The only consistent element that has emerged as being truly helpful both in my own depression and in dealing with that of others, is prayer. Praying for someone who is not acting as they ought is not an automatic response; we are much more prone to distance ourselves from them. But God's word doesn't say to pray for others only when they are acting like they ought to act and doing what they ought to do. The verses that end this post make it clear that we are to pray for one another even when we feel more as though we are enemies than friends with those for whom we pray.
In the end, our most effective work is prayer. If you are suffused by sorrows, keep crying out to the Lord. If you are living with someone who is struggling, pray for them and don't stop. To paraphrase Dory's line from Finding Nemo: Just keep praying, just keep praying, just keep praying!
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" Deuteronomy,” 33:27.
“Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work” Oswald Chambers.
“Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God” (Isaiah 49:4).
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:19-21).
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people (Ephesians 6:18 CEV).
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
I include this last verse from the Contemporary English Version with a smile, because although none of us are truly innocent, we often feel ourselves to be so. When we have been wronged and did not deserve it, but nevertheless pray for those who have hurt us, our prayers truly can help a lot:
"...pray for one another and be healed. The prayer of an innocent person is powerful, and it can help a lot" James 5:16 CEV