- Do we have unrealistic expectations of happiness in western culture?
- Do we expect unbroken tranquility in a world that has fallen from its Creator?
- Do we have a place for the groaning described in Romans 8:22-23?
As diagnoses of depression and cases of suicide escalate, the Church must equip people to understand what the Bible teaches about trials, hardships, suffering and sadness.
An inadequate theology of suffering contributes to unrealistic expectations of the “good” life. This in turn sends one through endless cycles of expectation-disappointment and despair.
Along these lines, it’s equally important to help people distinguish sadness due to neurological challenges from normal sadness based in biological responses.
In “The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sadness Into Depressive Disorder,” by Alan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakelfield, the authors offer excellent insight for distinguishing “sadness due to internal dysfunction” from “sadness that is a biologically designed response to external events.”
Their focus on the anatomy of normal sadness and the failure of social sciences to distinguish this kind of sadness from depressive disorder should be required reading for all medical and psychiatric professionals — as well as all counselors.
For helpful focus on the purpose and place of trials, hardships, suffering and sadness, see: