I happened on a column of the evangelist, Billy Graham, today and I was very heartened by his response to a parent who was asking for prayers for his daughter who was depressed and had even spoken of ending her life. Here is Mr. Graham’s reply:
I strongly urge you seek the best medical advice you possibly can for your daughter, if you haven’t already done so. Prayer is important, but sometimes God answers our prayers through other people, including those to whom He has given special gifts and abilities. This includes men and women with scientific and medical skills; one of the Apostle Paul’s closest companions was Luke, whom he referred to as “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14).
I’m not a doctor or psychiatrist, of course, but I understand that depression can have many different causes. Some (such as chemical imbalances in the brain) often respond to treatment, and you should do all you can to be sure your daughter is properly diagnosed. Your pastor or family doctor may be able to suggest the best options in your community. In addition, let your daughter know that you’ll always love her, and that God loves her also, whether she “feels” His love or not.
Too often I have encountered people who have a loved one who is struggling with depression or another brain illness who don’t see the many ways in which prayer may be answered. Mr. Graham says it well when he states that God answers our prayers through other people. The work of God is in the therapy sessions and in the medication and in the support of the community. We need to recognize that.
An old Middle Eastern proverb says, “Trust in God but tie your camel.” We who live with brain illness day after day have to indeed trust our Higher Power but we have to reach out to the many helpers the Higher Power gives us in our lives, those who can help us on the road to healing and health. Thanks, Mr. Graham, for that reminder.