The Way to Hope

A long-ago friend I’ll call “Beth” suffered from depression, growing more and more discouraged as she slogged through her days under the weight of it.  I asked her one day, “Why don’t you try reading a book about depression?”

“I’ve tried,” she replied, “but they only make me feel worse!”  If only she could have read Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, I believe she would have been uplifted, encouraged, and enlightened in her understanding of what was going on in her body, her mind, and her spirit when depression washed over her days.  Dr. Bengtson has experienced depression herself, so she writes from inside the problem, and, as a clinical neuropsychologist, she experienced the shock of realizing that the treatment suggestions she had offered to her patients were not working for her.  Medication, therapy, diet, exercise, prayer are all tried and true remedies for depression, but it was only when she began exploring the spiritual component of depression that she began to find freedom.

Hope Prevails offers the comfort of companionship, the clear light of truth, and the gift of hope with solid facts about depression:

  • “In any given year, approximately 18.8 million Americans adults suffer from depression.  If we broaden the scope, in most countries 8-12% of the population suffers from major depression at some point.”
  • Depression is chemical; it is genetic; it can have physiological roots; and it is influenced by environmental factors such as stress.
  • The underlying roots of depression lie in the spirit of the depressed person who lacks peace and joy and has bought into lies about herself that detract from her ability to live life to the fullest.

The hope Dr. Bengtson offers is not a personal recipe that she takes credit for, but springs instead from a Scriptural promises that point the way to a supernatural hope.  When she says that those who mourn will find comfort, that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy, and that there is an inexpressible joy available on this planet, she is not offering Scripture as a “snap out of it” lucky charm, but as a truth to replace the lies that lead to depression and as ammunition to fight the battle.

Dr. Bengtson’s go-to verse is Jeremiah 29:11, for it speaks of a hopeful future that is invisible to the eyes of the depressed believer.  A steady diet of strong truth works to bring feelings into line with a quest for biblical joy.  Michelle recommends a gratitude journal as solid accountability in practicing “the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details . . . the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”  This “settled conviction about God” is Kay Warren’s definition of joy which forms the bedrock on the road to healing and restoration.

Peace flees in the presence of shame, and owning one’s brokenness shines light into the dark places where shame rules.  Dependency on God and genuine forgiveness as a path away from bitterness and resentment are strong medicine.  Hope Prevails urges readers to take responsibility for their responses to circumstances —  a victim mentality leads only to self-pity and gets in the way of accepting God’s glorious validation of our identity as believers:  Accepted!  If God says “beloved,” who am I to disagree?

The truth of our value to God rests on the exorbitant price He paid to own us, and this counteracts all the whispered lies that hiss “unlovable” and “not good enough” into the ears of our heart.  Dr. Bengtson’s own embrace of this truth is part of her story, and she also shares her experiences of  illness, dysfunction, and grief that allow her to reassure her readers that pain is not wasted, nor is it evidence to disprove a loving God.  On the contrary:

“God never protects us from that which He will use to perfect us.”

Dr. Bengtson urges her readers to take advantage of any and all possible treatments for depression from medication to better sleep habits, but stresses that a God-reframed mindset and care for one’s spiritual self is the foundation upon which all other modalities will find greatest success.  Her message and the message of God in His Word are one:

Hope does not disappoint.
Hope prevails like love poured out in the heart;
Like light kindled in a dark place;
Like a Listening Ear who “searches the heart” and intercedes in wisdom;
Like a sign post in the road pointing away from danger.
Even in the midst of depression — by grace — reach out for and rejoice in hope.

This book was provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

23 thoughts on “The Way to Hope”

  1. Good morning, Michele …

    I’m resonating with Dr. B’s story having been through my own valley of anxiety and depression mixed in with peri-menopause, surgery, Lyme disease and a whole bunch of other life events … all while serving on a church staff as a pastoral counselor about 10 years ago.

    It’s a scenario I never want to wade through again, but we love and serve the One who specializes in redeeming our pain, our sorrow, and flips everything upside down and inside out so we can minister to others with the comfort we ourselves have received.

    Bottom line? God used all that had swirled around and in me to bring me to a place where I could offer other women real and genuine hope because I had been there, done that. I became the counselor I never would have been precisely because of the gruesome experience He had allowed.

    I am forever grateful …

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  2. As a mental health professional, I struggle with the stigma in regards to Christians who are depressed. I believe wholeheartedly in treatment and I believe even more wholeheartedly that faith, hope, and prayer are essential complements to medical treatment. I will make sure and get a copy of this book. Thank you for sharing her brave and truthful words!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like one of the most balanced books on the subject! Having worked as a professional counselor for nearly 30 years, I am so much acquainted with how much depression and anxiety impacts a person as well as those around them. I am grateful we now have so many good Christian authors with clinical and spiritual experience to bring hope and help to those hurting with these things. Have a God-kissed day, my friend!

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  4. there are lessons along the line that we must go through while it may not seem like something good for us at the time it teaches us lessons and prepares us for the next step. I loved your post and the reminder that all though the day may not go as promised the thing we need to do is to keep on going
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  5. Depression is so hard. Many people have the misconception that it is not possible for Christians to be depressed, and if they are, there surely must be something wrong with their walk with Christ. Sometimes, it takes God allowing us to walk through a situation in order to better see and understand it. I am so sorry to know of your dear friend’s distress back then, and, I, too, wish she could have read this book. Thank you for the time you put into reviewing these books for us. You are such a blessing!

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    1. I’m glad to know about this book because as I get older I find out more and more of my friends struggle with ongoing depression. I usually have nothing to offer other than stories of my dad’s depression. But even then, I was too young to remember what he was like before he found the right medication.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a friend who has struggled with chemical depression for a long time. It’s hard to understand that it’s way more than the ‘blues’. Thanks for this better understanding that I’m sure will be so very helpful for so many!

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  7. I love the review, Michele. I wish someone would have been able to help three of my former students who dealt with depression. They all grew up in a Christian home, two were pastor’s children but did not get the help they needed because of the teaching that depression is a heart/sin situation. I can’t wait to get this book and read it. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

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  8. Michele,
    I’ve heard so many good things about Michelle’s book! I know it’s a must on my reading list! Beautiful review, my friend ❤️

    Like

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