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A Book Review By Wes Bredenhof

Depression: A Stubborn Darkness

Edward T. Welch, Winston-Salem: Vantage Point, 2004, softcover, 275 pages.

Depression has been described as the common cold of mental illnesses.  Many of us know people who chronically or periodically suffer with this ailment.  Many of us ourselves suffer, often in silence.  This being the case, it’s always good to know of some helpful resources that direct us back to God’s Word for the support and encouragement we need.  This book by Ed Welch is one such resource that I can highly recommend.

Ed Welch is the author of several helpful books, including When People are Big and God is Small.  He is a professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and a counsellor, faculty member and director of the School of Biblical Counseling at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.  His years of experience both in counselling and in teaching the Scriptures are reflected in this volume. 

The book begins with a vivid description of what depression is and what it’s like to experience it.  For those who live with depressed people, this will be enormously helpful.  It’ll give you an idea of what your loved one is experiencing.  From there, Welch goes on to describe the ways in which depression is suffering and how we’re to interpret that suffering in the light of the Bible.  He examines what depression is saying to us and goes on to look at ways that the depressed person can be helped.  Welch acknowledges the place of medication in treatment for depression, but he urges his readers to be circumspect.  The book closes with some exhortations from Scripture to humility, hope, thankfulness and joy.  Like his other books, this one is really devotional in character.  Skilfully using the Word, Welch drives us to God and, more specifically, to Christ the Saviour.  It is a long book, but the chapters (26 of them) are short enough to read in one sitting.

There are a good deal many helpful insights in this book.  This is not the “grin and bear it” brand of counselling, nor is it the brand that simply tells us that depression is a disease like cancer, a disease that might be helped solely by medical treatments.  Welch’s approach is balanced and Biblical.  All in all, when that stubborn darkness descends on you or someone you love, Ed Welch could be the one to bring the light of the Scriptures to bear with a good result.  

*While the original book can still be found in some bookstores, a new edition with some additional content is available from Pro Ecclesia Bookshop. This new version is called Depression: Looking Up from a Stubborn Darkness.