By: Jonathan Harris
In Dr. Steven Waterhouse’s booklet Depression Recovery According to the Bible, the topic of depression is approached in a nouthetic yet realistic way. I say “yet realistic” not to demean nouthetic counseling of which I am a subscriber, but to distance Waterhouse from those in the nouthetic world who down play medical problems as contributors to spiritual conditions. Waterhouse makes it clear that there are a variety of reasons for depression, and a variety of solutions. He divides the causes of depression into three separate categories which constitute 19 possibilities. The first category has to do with depression caused by sin. The second category concerns the non-sinful (circumstantial) causes. The third category is a subset of the second, but deals more with personal circumstances (medical and wrong theology) rather than social causes.
All in all I found the booklet to be helpful in diagnosing a problem—however it may not be sufficient in dealing with that problem in a meaningful way. I don’t believe the work was ever intended to zone in on specific problems in a nuanced way, so I’m not complaining. What the book attempts to do it does. I would recommend it.
I think the main thing I learned from it—mainly because I tend to be a perfectionist—is learning that while it is good to aim for an impossible dream, it is not the achievement of the dream that pleases God, but rather the intention behind it. God commends David as a man after His own heart, yet David’s goal to restore the temple was never met. God’s response is recorded in 2 Chron. 7:8. “But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.'” It is not the achievement of perfection that God takes pleasure in, it is the honest attempt to obey His commandments.