Out of the Depths: Bible Studies on Depression and Hope
This book is designed for use by those experiencing mental and emotional illness, as well as those who would like to improve their skills in caring for people in this situation.
It is designed primarily for use by groups, but is also of benefit to individuals wanting to learn more about anxiety and depression.
In the group setting, this series of ten studies may be used as a tool for Christian churches or fellowship to help support and encourage those in their group who are struggling with depression or anxiety. This book can also provide a format for a ‘depression group’ to follow as they help each other to cope with their illness. This is particularly important, as group interaction is an important aid in the recovery process.
These studies also provide some biblical teaching on the special spiritual problems that arise for those who are struggling with mental and emotional illness, as well as some basic medical knowledge to help those who suffer understand more about their problems and what can be done to help.
If you are struggling in the above areas, this book will help you to learn
– about depression and anxiety and a little about the underlying chemical problems
– how stress causes and worsens these conditions
– to recognise stress overload and begin working out how to reduce it
– that it is not your fault but it is your problem to deal with
– that you are still ‘victorious’ and able to serve God even when depressed
– that God allows suffering to help you grow in maturity in your relationship with him
– that you are not worthless or a failure
– that you will recover and be able to help others in similar situations.
Dr Helen Rienits, MBBS, DRANZCOG is a doctor who works in general practice on the south coast of NSW. After graduating, Helen undertook some theological studies before working for nine years with the Leprosy Mission in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. She is regularly invited to speak on this topic in various churches and with a variety of groups. She is married to Ian and they have three children.
Susan Davén (coordinator for the Golden Doves – a group based in Sweden for those needing support during a period of depression), 15 May 2012:
We are a group of five women in our church in Stockholm, Sweden that supports a young mother who went through a difficult period of depression and is still being rehabilitated. We have used the book for almost a year now in our monthly meetings, reading it in English, and then looking up the Bible texts and carrying out our discussion in Swedish. We are so grateful for the information and advice from a Christian perspective we have gained from it. We feel that the time has come to spread this wonderful book further afield therefore we would like to translate it into Swedish. We want to inform and inspire other Christians in our parish regarding facts around depression and how we can help one another.
Kate Harrower, 2 February 2012, posted by Bishop John Harrower (http://imaginarydiocese.org/bishopjohn/2012/02/02/book-review-out-of-the-depths-2/)
This study book, Out of the Depths by Helen Rienits, may not be at the top of the list for many small group leaders – but that would be a mistake.
There are probably more people than we are aware of who suffer from various degrees of depression. In addition, others struggle with anxiety, stress, or insecurity. These studies are written for these people, and for those who seek to care for them.
It is also a great resource for addressing the struggle of living in a world that includes suffering, and how it fits with the character and acts of God. As such, it can provide Christians with a biblical framework for talking to friends who aren’t Christians and lament the harshness of life.
The book includes eight studies on topics such as:
– Where am I? What’s wrong with me?
– What happens if I can’t cope anymore? Will God forgive me?
– Why don’t others understand me?
Helen Rienits, an Aussie general practice doctor, includes helpful hints for running the group, notes for the study leader, and a bibliography with additional reading material. This means that a Christian can feel confident about using this book with a group of people.
The studies are very comprehensive, including medical information, well crafted discussion questions, encouragements, and practical suggestions. Importantly, each study is based around a passage from the Bible which participants look at together and discuss. It is very accessible, yet also addresses to the main issues in an approachable way.
I found the book to be stimulating, challenging and informative for my own life. I would be excited to explore it with a group of people, and see how God might work through it to bring about transformation in people’s lives, and build a healthier, more loving, church.