Support follows sympathy.
- It involves being available to listen and talk either in person or at the end of a phone.
- It includes praying with the person, especially as the depressed person may find it impossible to put words and sentences together in prayer.
- It means unconditional love, love that is maintained even when you do not agree with every decision your loved one is making and even when that loved one may unjustly turn on you.
- It requires practical help such as babysitting to enable a young mother to get a few free hours each week or such as taking an elderly person out for a drive to give him a refreshing change of scenery.
You will need wisdom to recognize when the help you are providing is not enough and the depressed person needs expert support from other caring professions. The benefits of such supportive friendship cannot be overestimated:
On a congregational level, pastors and office bearers should encourage a supportive atmosphere:
The church should be especially aware of the need to support the supporters. To be an effective support to depressed loved-ones is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually demanding. As Christians we need to be conscious of the need not only to support depressed people but also to minister to the needs of their nearest and dearest.Edited extract from Christians get depressed too. Available at RHB and Ligonier. Kindle version here.