Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JODT 19:57 (Summer 2015) p. 201
If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed? Finding Meaning and Hope in the Dark Valley, One Man’s Journey by Robert B. Somerville. Santa Clarita, CA: Xulon Press, 2014. 243 pp., paper, $14.39.
Robert Somerville is a professor of biblical counseling at the Master’s College as well as a fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counseling. He has counseled hundreds and taught many others how to apply Scripture to life’s problems for decades. Such people are not supposed to get depressed, but Dr. Somerville did — severe, clinical depression. Somerville’s book describes his journey through what he calls his “dark night of the soul” (pp. 17, 197). The expression is an unfortunate term that some are using today to describe depression; it originated with St. John of the Cross, in his book by that title, as the first step toward mystical union with God, known commonly as purgation. However, Somerville’s work does more than describe a man’s journey; it also offers extremely helpful insight and biblically accurate means of dealing with depression.
Each of Somerville’s ten chapters opens with a Puritan prayer and ends with a story of other Christians who have similar experiences. The individual whose life is being described wrote each of those stories. Somerville addressed a wide variety of topics including symptoms of depression (p. 18), the lack of hope (ch. 2), causes of depression (pp. 69- 71), tools to avoid sinful responses which lead to depression (pp. 71–85), guilt (ch. 5), the physical components of depression and the need to care for one’s body (ch. 6), anxiety (ch. 7), how to express concerns to God using the Psalms as a guide (ch. 8), joy (ch. 9), and help for the caregiver (ch. 10), written by Somerville’s wife Mary.
Each chapter is biblically sound and offers practical ideas and suggestions. Scripture and ways to use it during times of depression are abundant. The book includes seven valuable appendixes, which explain the gospel, guide the reader in how to study the Bible, pray along with the Psalms, provide hymns of comfort, and point toward other resources that will provide aid for those who suffer from depression.
Throughout the volume, Somerville offered numerous exercises and projected that, if applied, would help a depressed person tremendously. However, very few in need will actually take these steps because the very nature of depression leaves most with little motivation or initiative. For this reason the best use of If I’m a Christian, Why Am I
JODT 19:57 (Summer 2015) p. 202
Depressed? is as a resource for biblical counseling or a book study for a small group or adult Bible class. Homework assignments ...
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