Jesus Wept

When Faith and Depression Meet

 

Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet. By Barbara C. Crafton. Jossey-Bass (2009).

Book review by Christine Guth

Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet, by Barbara C. Crafton (Jossey-Bass, 2009), explores serious depression with searing honesty and gripping realism, through the perspectives of people who have lived it. Pastoral ministry in a church in the shadow of the World Trade Towers in New York City following the September 11, 2001 bombing provides an ominously fitting context for Crafton’s personal story of plummeting into depression.

She shares her personal journey through the pressing theological and practical questions that depression often thrusts in the face of believers. “People of faith face unique challenges when neurotransmitters go haywire,” she notes. “Years of teaching make them feel like depression is disloyal to the cause, disappointing God. Guilt can make church folk unable to seek professional help,” which, she points out, prolongs suffering unnecessarily.

As its succinct, evocative title might imply, the book extends companionship in short, pithy chapters, offering a way out of the isolation and shame that compound the misery of depression. Crafton’s blog, www.geraniumfarm.org, invites furthering the connections begun by reading the book. 

Jesus Wept will be deeply appreciated by people struggling to hang on to faith while living with depression and by survivors of depression. The book also offers companions, caregivers, and persons offering pastoral care to people living with depression a deeper understanding that will increase their capacity to care well and bear the presence of Christ to another through dark times. Given the ubiquitous presence of this serious mental health condition, Jesus Wept would be an excellent addition to church libraries.

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